Schweitzer Cutoff Road construction continues on

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(Courtesy photo) Construction on Schweitzer Cutoff Road to continue into the fall.

SANDPOINT — The construction on Schweitzer Cutoff Road ran into a couple of delays, but is still on track for completion this fall.

"The roundabout won’t be open at Labor Day, and that was my initial target. I was hoping to see that," said Ryan Luttmann, the city's public works director.

The roundabout at the intersection of Boyer Avenue and Schweitzer Cutoff is Sandpoint's companion project to the Sand Creek Bridge replacement on Schweitzer Cutoff. The bridge received a very low sufficiency rating based on significant cracks in the girders, and therefore qualified for some federal emergency dollars for replacement. 

The cities of Ponderay and Sandpoint partnered on the project with Sandpoint as the "sponsor." The cities are responsible for a 15-percent match, so 7.5 percent each, of the funding. Ponderay city officials originally budgeted $255,000 for the current fiscal year, but with bids coming in higher than engineers' estimates for projects across the state, they are looking at a cost of more than $312,000 for their share of the bridge replacement. Sandpoint, as the project sponsor, pays the bills and is reimbursed by Ponderay for the costs. Ponderay, as well as Sandpoint, is currently going through the 2018 budget process, so any extra costs will likely be budgeted for next year. Sandpoint is solely responsible for the roundabout project.

Due to the federal funding, the cities have a state/local agreement with the Idaho Transportation Department for the project, and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council administers that funding for the state. Under the state/local agreement, ITD has the authority to award a project within a certain percentage of the engineer’s estimate.

"This one came in a little higher, so LHTAC went to the ITD board and justified those dollars," Luttmann said. "So they looked at those to say, 'Are these reasonable increases above the engineer’s estimate?' and that is typical on a federal aid project. The ITD board concurred and found the additional dollars to keep the project moving forward."

That was before the bid was awarded and the project officially began, Luttmann said. Since then, construction has, for the most part, been continuous. The roundabout is close to subgrade elevations now, and the piles have been driven on both sides of the creek for the bridge.

As far as delays on the project, Luttmann said, there has been some utility conflicts, because within that corridor runs power, new fiber line, a water line, storm water lines and telecommunication lines.

"So you’ve got a lot of people working in a small area, as well as a bridge replacement pile driving project," Luttmann said. 

Crews moved power from one side of the road to the other, which “doesn’t seem like too big a challenge,” Luttmann said, but the area is also in the runway protection zone for the Sandpoint Airport, and therefore required the process of review and approval through the Federal Aviation Administration for new pole locations.

“At this point, all of those challenges have been resolved and they are moving forward with the construction of the roundabout now,” he said.

Another issue that arose, Luttmann said, is the design length for the bridge piles was 105 feet, but to get the “bearing capacity” of those piles, they had to drive the piles down to 160 feet. There are 22 piles, Luttmann said, and will likely add a few extra days to the project due to the welding involved, as well as more pile and more material going in.

Nevertheless, as per the schedule, crews will start pouring abutments next week, Luttmann said, and then placing girders for the bridge the following week.

“At the same time the girders are going in, they’re going to start pouring the curb, gutter, and the islands for the roundabout,” Luttmann said. “It’s going to take a couple weeks to get through all that, and they are scheduled to start paving asphalt about the middle of September.”

The bridge was initially scheduled to open at the end of October, Luttmann said, but the schedule currently has it pushed back to Nov. 8.

The road remains closed as construction continues, and detour routes include Baldy Mountain Road to Great Northern Road, where detour signs direct traffic back to North Boyer Avenue; and for those heading to North Boyer Avenue from the north side of Ponderay, West Bronx Road connects with North Boyer as well.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.the Sandpoint Airport, and therefore required the process of review and approval through the Federal Aviation Administration for new pole locations.

"At this point, all of those challenges have been resolved and they are moving forward with the construction of the roundabout now," he said.

Another issue that arose, Luttmann said, is the design length for the bridge piles was 105 feet, but to get the "bearing capacity" of those piles, they had to drive the piles down to 160 feet. There are 22 piles, Luttmann said, and will likely add a few extra days to the project due to the welding involved, as well as more pile and more material going in.

Nevertheless, as per the schedule, crews will start pouring abutments next week, Luttmann said, and then placing girders for the bridge the following week.

"At the same time the girders are going in, they’re going to start pouring the curb, gutter, and the islands for the roundabout," Luttmann said. "It’s going to take a couple weeks to get through all that, and they are scheduled to start paving asphalt about the middle of September."

The bridge was initially scheduled to open at the end of October, Luttmann said, but the schedule currently has it pushed back to Nov. 8.  

The road remains closed as construction continues, and detour routes include Baldy Mountain Road to Great Northern Road, where detour signs direct traffic back to North Boyer Avenue; and for those heading to North Boyer Avenue from the north side of Ponderay, West Bronx Road connects with North Boyer as well.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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