Sunday, September 15, 2013

Daily Bee: Sand Creek Byway Competes for National Award

Posted By on Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

The Sand Creek Byway, in Sandpoint, took about 70 years to debate and cost $106 million to build. At 2.1 miles, that makes it the most expensive road project, per mile, in Idaho history. - COURTESY IDAHO TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT/IDAHO AIRSHIPS
  • Courtesy Idaho Transportation Department/Idaho Airships
  • The Sand Creek Byway, in Sandpoint, took about 70 years to debate and cost $106 million to build. At 2.1 miles, that makes it the most expensive road project, per mile, in Idaho history.

The Sand Creek Byway is among 10 projects nationwide vying for America’s Transportation Award, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee. The 2.1-mile U.S. Highway 95 realignment project in Sandpoint, which opened in July 2012, was among the most expensive, controversial and complex road projects in Idaho history. Planning for the bypass dates back to the 1940s, but was held back due to concerns about its impacts both economic—local merchants were worried the bypass would direct business away from downtown shops—and environmental—built along a shallow creek, the roadway required six bridges, 65 retaining walls and vast quantities of fill to buttress it against the soft creek bed. All told, the project cost $106 million to build.

Once a subject of fierce disagreement, the Sand Creek Byway is being considered for a $10,000 grand prize and $10,000 people’s choice award. If it wins either or both, the money will be awarded to North Idaho Bikeways, a nonprofit created in 1995 to establish a network of bike and pedestrian trails connecting communities in the Sandpoint area.

The Bonner County Area Transportation Team recommended that the trail organization be named beneficiary of the award if the byway wins. The Idaho Transportation Department nominated the project for the award because of its complexity. Factors included mitigating wetlands, a tight construction zone, a large archaeological excavation and a prodigious amount of public involvement.

The byway is competing with projects in California, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Folks can vote up to 10 times a day through Oct. 2 here: americastransportationawards.org.

The winner will be announced on Oct. 20.

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