Transportation department narrows design for south Jerome interchange | Public meeting slated for Feb. 22

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JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Idaho Department of Transportation will be holding a public meeting for input on the south Jerome interchange.

Nathan Jerke, the project manager from the department, said they have been in the design phase of this project for almost a year.

The current bridge was built in 1966, and the transportation department is ready to update and redesign it.

"Essentially what this project is doing is replacing the bridge," he said.

Jerke said they started plans of a new interchange back in May of 2017 with over 20 designs and narrowing it down to about 6 that they showed the public.

"Even those five or six that we took to the public in May of 2017, we still took those away and brought this design forward," Jerke said.

He said they held another meeting in August and said "the public came in and looked at it and said this is going to work for us."

The plan the department decided to go forward with is called a divided diamond interchange. According to Jerke, this design is unique, "not only for Idaho, but possibly even for the United States."

"It's a two bridge design. It looks like a really big round-about... We're just bringing in the traffic at a little wider angles and it's a big looping pattern," he explained.

Instead of having four potential signals between the Frontage Roads and the on and off ramps, there will only be two, according to Jerke.

"People would be just taking a circle around to get those two signals and to get onto the on/off ramps, so it's very unique, but it's also very innovative" he continued. "Trying to make sure that we are meeting the future needs for Jerome."

Jerke said they're still in the design phase and will still be in it for another six months. Following that, he said they'll be working on purchasing the right of ways for another half a year after that.

Jerke said they have been in contact with businesses in the surrounding area in anticipation of the redesign.

General Manager of Con Paulos Chevrolet Costa Paulos said he's "pretty excited."

"We've had a lot of traffic here, it's been a long time coming. I think it's going to help the community," Paulos said.

Paulos said they have given a lot of input at the meetings.

"I can't wait for it to start, and I can't wait for it to be over," he said.

Mo Black owns a coffee shack right off Interstate 84 and she said she's been kept in the loop too.

"I think it'll be beneficial, just because our on ramps are very short, and so it's really hard to get up to 80 miles per hour before you've got traffic to merge into," she said.

However, as a business owner, she said she's a little nervous.

"It is going to cause some delays, and hopefully everyone can still come into our parking lots and come enjoy our foods and drinks," she added.

Construction won't start for another two years.

"It's actually supposed to go into construction at some point during fiscal year 2021 and it will probably be a 12-16 month construction window," Jerke said. Construction could start as early as fall of 2020.

He said they plan to use the current bridge for traffic control when they start construction.

"We can actually keep traffic flowing pretty well while we're doing most of the construction," he said.

Jerke said he hopes to have this new interchange be beneficial for decades, as the department will present a video that looks 30 years into the future and shows potential traffic flows.

A public meeting will be held at Idaho State Police on Feb. 22 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ITD will have 3-D videos of how the interchange will work and show traffic flows.




 
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