"We're already pushed to the limit": ITD struggling to keep up with growth, damage repairs

Posted at 10:30 AM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 18:20:02-04

Growth in the Treasure Valley may be great news for business, but bad news for our roads. Not only are they overcrowded, but the building boom is causing unnecessary damage to our roadways.

Most people every worry about driving under an underpass, but unfortunately, the few drivers who need to take extra care are not and putting all of us at risk.

Last week, an excavator being hauled down the interstate wasn't lowered properly and hit the overpass.

"There's no immediate danger of the bridge coming down," said Jake Melder, a spokesperson for the Idaho Transportation Department. "It is enough damage though that repairs are going to be made in the near future."

The excavator hit one side of the Robinson Road overpass and then bounced up under the other side, causing damage going in and coming out.

"There was a lot of debris in the road, mostly small stuff, but a lot of that stuff can be picked up by tires and thrown into a windshield and we don't want that," said Toby Griffin, a bridge inspector with ITD.

In a world where ITD is struggling just to keep up with growth, unnecessary overpass damage is costly.

"We're already pushed to the limit with the amount of crazy expansion here in the Treasure Valley," said Melder. "We're having to pull those resources to now address this problem."

Road crews say bridges are high enough so there's no excuse for developers or anyone else to run into them.

"It's in excess of 17 feet, you know, your standard legal load in Idaho is 14 feet so that's way up there," said Griffin.

Crews say just this year, they've responded to five incidents of damage to bridges and all of them they say are from construction equipment. ITD says they are reaching out to contractors to educate them and remind them of the rules.

Melder says the transportation department will bill the responsible parties for the damage. He says the repair to the Robinson Bridge alone could run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.