POCATELLO — The Chubbuck Road overpass will be closed for about three years, beginning Aug. 1, during construction on the Interstate 15-Interstate 86 interchange.
The overpass will be closed between Fairgrounds Drive and the Sacajawea Drive roundabout while the Idaho Transportation Department rebuilds the 15 System Interchange, according to a news release. Traffic will be rerouted to the Northgate Parkway interchange, which ITD predicts will add about seven minutes of travel.
In the release, ITD acknowledged the difficulties created by the closure, particularly with school traffic.
“The school district had some real concerns about making a change during the school year, and we are doing what we can to accommodate them for the safety of the students and smooth operation of the schools,” project co-manager Zak Johnson says in the release.
Along with Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25, ITD is working with the Idaho State Police, Bannock County Sheriff’s Office and regional transit to ease the transition.
The goal of this project is to replace bridges that are “reaching the end of their life” and provide updated travel routes for a growing community.
“The aging bridges will continue to get closer and closer to the end of their design lifespan,” project co-manager Greg Roberts says in the release. “They would still be functional, but weight limits would start to have to be imposed on truck traffic. That would negatively impact Pocatello’s economic future.”
Additionally, when the System Interchange was constructed nearly 60 years ago, it was not built to accommodate development on the east side of I-15. Homes, schools, a Latter-day Saint temple and the Portneuf Wellness Complex have created traffic issues. And with a new development under construction, ITD expects further traffic.
“We can only expect traffic volume to increase and with it congestion,” Roberts said. “That will cause the ‘weave’ between the Pocatello Creek on-ramp and the Chubbuck exit to get worse. Traffic entering I-15 intending to head toward Chubbuck already has difficulty during peak times crossing all the way to the left to head west on I-86.”
The project will cost $112 million, funded primarily through the Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation funds as part of Gov. Brad Little’s Leading Idaho initiative.
Once completed, the project will provide the area with eight new bridges.
Sundt-Cannon joint venture contractors will begin placing equipment at the site this week. ITD expects the project to be completed by mid-2025.