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Addressing Safety Concerns On Interstate 84

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By Joey Martin

Burley, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Since the late 1960s, the speed limit on Interstate 84 in the Burley/Minidoka area has changed a number of times.

But the original on and off ramps have stayed the same...

And therein lays the problem....

For motorists in the area, either merging on or off the ramps has become quite the hassle.... And safety is becoming a major issue.

"With the increased speeds that we see, the ramps weren't designed for speeds of 75 miles per hour. They work because we drive much more higher performance vehicles. But the interchanges were not designed for the higher speeds," explains Nathan Jerke, Idaho Transportation Department.

So why not just modernize the current structures?

"If we were to modernize the Burley interchange for instance... there is private industry, a lot of business that have built right up next to the on and off ramps, and that would take a lot of time, effort and money to move those business to fit a more modern structure into the same small footprint that we currently own," Jerke says.

Currently, there is already one project in the book that will go to alleviate one specific safety threat in the area.

Starting in 2015, ITD will begin the reconstruction of both Snake River bridges near the Declo 216 exit.

"We’re going to reconstruct both Snake River bridges to accommodate the westbound traffic and that on-ramp. The bridge will actually be three lanes wide for about half of the length of the bridge to accommodate a longer merging area for that on ramp," Jerke explains.

With that project already scheduled, where does the other fit onto ITD timeline of addressing safety concerns?

"Talking to the folks in our planning section. There is some planning at this point to begin the studying the needs and to prioritize the on/off ramps throughout I-84 throughout the Magic Valley and see where we have priorities to address safety needs. They are 5 to 10 year long projects to even consider increasing the size or footprint to modernize some of our older structures," Jerke says.

As ITD continues to assess what changes need to be made…

For the time being... Yielding the right of way may be your only option.

In the mean time, the ITD will continue to improve roadway surfaces and keep the idea of expansion on the top of their to-do list.


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