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Local Agencies Learn From March 17th Wind Storm, Move Forward

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By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) When you think of how you celebrated St. Patrick's Day this year, all you might remember was the wind.

Wind speeds reached nearly 70 miles per hour on the Hansen Bridge, while the weather station on the Perrine reported 55 mile an hour gusts.

Now agencies are looking back at those events, with an understanding of how to move forward. The Idaho Transportation Department met with Twin Falls and Jerome officials Monday to discuss how to improve safety should another high wind event occur.

On March 17th, Cody Goodnight caught this video of a Washington State man nearly losing his life, as his truck toppled over on the Hansen Bridge. One of several wind–induced semi truck rollovers that day.

"The storms we encountered on March 17th proved to us that it's probably not an adequate advisory system for winds on our bridges, especially when we're seeing winds in excess of 60 miles per hour for more than short periods of time," explains Nathan Jerke, ITD.

Local agencies are trying to address the need for early warning signs to inform truck drivers and other high profile vehicles about the concerns they may face on the bridge.

Jerke adds, "instead of a sign that says high wind warning with the wind sock. We're looking at some high definition or high dynamic signs. That if the wind reaches a certain threshold, which has yet to be determined which is 35, 40, 45 miles per hour, blinking lights will come on and the lights will flash letting people know we've met a certain threshold and the wind is now a concern that they need to be worried about as they cross the bridges."

Twin Falls County Commissioner Terry Kramer adds, "the signs they're looking at are very simple in nature. They'll be automated with a wind anemometer that will turn on when the wind will reach a certain speed."

ITD is also looking at improving the dynamic message signs and installing more of those within the coming years. Right now it's about ideas and potential for future legislation.

$30,000 to $80,000. That's the cost for the blinking lights and installation at the weather reporting stations on the bridges.

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