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Dry Creek Bridge on US 30 near Murtaugh is on the list to be replaced

Posted at 5:04 PM, Oct 12, 2023

MURTAUGH, Idaho — In an ever-growing Idaho, transportation needs affect every corner of the state.

The Idaho Department of Transportation says that while nearly 80 percent of bridges in the state are in good condition, more than 900 bridges are over 50 years old. One at a time, replacement projects will ensure drivers can safely and easily travel Idaho roadways, ITD says.

Most travelers on US 30 outside of Murtaugh won’t even realize that this bridge is here. The most you can see of it from the roadway is the concrete railing.

But the Dry Creek Bridge, at 90 years old, is due to be replaced.

Rocky Matthews owns property right next to the bridge and says he’s spent most of his life nearby. When he was in high school, Matthews would come down and climb around on the arches above Dry Creek.

“I just want a bigger, better bridge,” Matthews told Idaho News 6. “As much as I hate to see this one go, it’s dangerous.”

Matthews is one of a handful of people who get to see the architecture of the bridge because both sides of the highway are private property.

He said he thinks it’s time for a new bridge, even though the current one is interesting and unique.

“The older I get, the more time I spend under it, the more dangers I see.,” Matthews said. “Because on a good day you can go underneath there and stand and pea-gravel sized bits of concrete will fall on you when the big trucks go over the bridge a little too hot, so to speak.”

The bridge is historically significant ... It was designed by Charles Kyle, the same Idaho engineer who designed the Capital Boulevard Bridge in Boise, and the Rainbow Bridge that crosses the Payette on State Highway 55 near Smith’s Ferry.

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Those bridges are considered masterpieces for their design and the era in which they were built. Because those bridges are in more visible settings, people have lots of opportunities to see them.

That historical significance is a big consideration in the design of any replacement.

At an open house on Wednesday night in Murtaugh, ITD Project Manager Brent Brumfield said the historical significance of the bridge is a prime consideration ahead of planning a replacement.

“We have to worry about the historical preservation of the bridge first and foremost,” Brumfield told Idaho News 6. “We have to come to an agreement with the state historical preservation office and Federal Highway Administration on what mitigation is going to be required.”

ITD is looking for feedback on three design options. Two options would keep the bridge where it is and realign US 30 several dozen feet either to the north or south of the bridge. A third option would be to detour traffic around the bridge while the current one is removed and replaced – a process that could take 18 months.

“Once we have (the feedback) we can work towards a permanent design,” Brumfield said. “But we’re taking the public feedback tonight and online to work towards a design that will appease the most, and still fit the needs of the transportation network.”

It will be a while before a decision is made. After a design is proposed, ITD will hold a final open house, tentatively planned for summer 2024, and construction is expected to begin in 2026.

Comments will be accepted through Oct.18, and anyone interested in sharing their thoughts on the proposal can find information at ITD’s online open house for the project.