HORSESHOE BEND, Idaho — A year ago on the 4th of July, a truck crashed into the Payette River on Highway 55 backing up traffic for hours, after first responders opened the highway the next day there was another crash.
Update 3:25p - This is what Hwy 55 just north of Smiths Ferry looked like a short time ago as crews work to pull the wreckage of a tractor-trailer out of the Payette River. One lane of traffic was open briefly but is closed again at this time. pic.twitter.com/N4akCQymJU— Idaho State Police (@ISPHeadquarters) July 4, 2020
On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend this year, northbound traffic at Banks backed up for about 10 miles because of an accident.
“A lot of what we are seeing in accidents is speed related and a few road rage incidents where people are not patient," said Sheriff Scott Turner of the Boise County Sheriff's Office. "Unfortunately these crashes usually end tragically."
The North Fork of the Payette features class five rapids, but kayakers and rafters often refer to Highway 55 as a class five road which becomes even more dangerous on holiday weekends when so many people head for the mountains.
"On the holiday weekends if we get a crash on the highway we are forced to shut the highway down for an extended period of time just to get emergency vehicles in and out of the crash scene due to the sheer volume of traffic on the highway," said Turner.
Highway 55 and other roads like Highway 21, the Banks-Lowman Road and Highway 95 near Riggins demand your attention because the canyon areas of these roads only have room for the river and the road.
It's important to slow down, passing on these highways can be dangerous and drivers will likely get stuck behind the next caravan of cars, plus arriving safer and a little bit later at your destination is better than waiting in your car because of an accident.
"We encourage people if you are holding up traffic use the slow vehicle turnouts but the biggest thing is just to be patient," said Turner. "We want people to come up and enjoy what we have to offer, just pay attention to your surroundings."
The Idaho Transportation Department stopped construction operation at Smith's Ferry and they will also have flaggers at Banks at the intersection of Highway 55 and Banks-Lowman Road.