TWIN FALLS • Plans are being discussed to upgrade one of the roads south of Twin Falls for higher speeds and to direct truck traffic around the city.
The project would cost tens of millions of dollars, with the funding sources remaining to be worked out, and it could be decades before it’s complete, if it happens.
Industrial growth in the city means more trucks coming through town. City and county leaders are weighing truck route options. But before it could happen, Twin Falls County would need to preserve the corridor, restricting new accesses and development close to the proposed roads.
“Whichever one is determined that’s the best route to do, then we’d start preserving corridor as far as issuing permits and limiting the number of accesses,” said Dave Burgess, a Twin Falls Highway District commissioner who is part of the steering commission looking at the issue.
Burgess said the new route would direct commercial truck traffic out of Twin Falls itself, as they head to the industries on the city’s outskirts or go between U.S. Route 93 and the Hansen Bridge.
“Twin Falls is growing industrially towards the east,” he said. “We’re trying to look further down the road to accommodate. We’ve got Clif Bar out there, we’ve got Chobani, there’s other trucking companies out there.”
Two of the alternatives would involve reconstructing 3600 North, from U.S. 74 to either 3300 East or 3500 East. The third would reconstruct Orchard Drive to 3300 East. Then, the new truck route would go north to meet U.S. 30 near Chobani and the soon-to-be Clif Bar plant.
The three alternatives are close cost-wise: about $1.9 million in engineering, between $10 and $12 million in right-of-way acquisition, and about $19 million in construction. All three scenarios envision constructing the truck route as a two-lane highway, designed for travel at 60 mph, and would involve building a new bridge over Rock Creek. The bridge would be $3.2 million of the total cost. The road itself would be widened, and the curves made wider, to accommodate faster traffic. The cost estimates are in today’s dollars, so the numbers could end up being quite different if the work is done years from now.
Keller Associates evaluated the alternatives as part of an update on the Southeast Twin Falls Corridor Study. The Idaho Transportation Department funded the update, and a steering committee consisting of Burgess, former Twin Falls City Engineer Gary Young, and current City Engineer Jackie Fields worked with Keller and the ITD on the update, which also consisted of looking at other road projects in the area and ranking them in terms of priority. Work started in 2013. Before that, the last update had been in 2004, Young said.
The Twin Falls City Council heard a presentation on the alternatives in early May, and was leaning toward alternative No. 1, which would follow 3600 North to 3300 East. Young and Burgess said the Highway District and the City of Kimberly are expected to weigh in, too, and that a public hearing would be held and comment solicited before a route is decided on.
Young said some of the work could happen gradually, as new developments happen in the area or new industries locate there, and the developers are required to widen the road as part of it.