A bump in the trail

Detour concerns group; Construction firm says it has done what it can

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SHAWN GUST/Press A cyclist rides the Centennial Trail through an area of construction near Interstate-90 Wednesday in Post Falls. The trail has been detoured and some rough patches are causing trouble for some riders.

POST FALLS - Turns out motorists aren't the only ones being slowed by the Beck Road interchange project along Interstate 90 near the state line.

Off to the side, recreation on the Centennial Trail has also been impacted on a half-mile detour.

Charlie Miller, manager for the nonprofit North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation, said a portion of the detour has resulted in more than the usual and expected inconveniences that come with major highway projects.

Miller said that he alone has heard of at least four cyclists who have had flat tires and another five who have tipped over to due a surface that isn't compact and suitable for cycling. There have been no serious injuries that he's aware of.

"We were told that there would be a compact gravel surface for the entire stretch," Miller said. "There never has been a completely uniform surface."

Miller said the contractor, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company of Draper, Utah, did improve over half of the detour to make it more suitable for cyclists. But a portion went uncompleted despite inquiries about it, Miller said.

Brandon Squire, project manager for the interchange, said his team has been in communication with the foundation and has tried to address its concerns.

"We were unaware that they are unhappy with our efforts and will work to improve the communication with the foundation," Squire wrote in an email.

Squire said the company compacted the detour's surface on Saturday and again on Tuesday. He said an inquiry about the trail from The Press prompted another look.

"We identified five or six small localized spots that we would like to further address and patch," Squire wrote. "We will watch this trail daily and run compaction equipment over it as necessary."

Squire encouraged the foundation to contact the contractor on site for the quickest response if it has further concerns.

The detour is necessary to construct the interchange and keep trail users safe from equipment during construction, which is expected to finish in late November, Squire said.

"We are excited to be part of this project as we think it will be a valuable enhancement to the surrounding community and support economic growth," he wrote. "We are working to complete this project as quickly as possible and restore the trail with a paved surface.

"We appreciate everyone's patience and support during construction."

Miller said the foundation was under the impression early on that the detour would be paved. When it found out that it wouldn't be, the foundation understood, but still expected a compacted surface throughout the detour.

"Unfortunately their response has been slow and not up to the standards that we hold for the trail," Miller said, adding that construction debris has also been a concern along the detour. "We've continued to work with them, but it's been a challenge to get an adequate detour route."

Miller said the foundation supports the interchange project because it is expected to lead to economic development, but the group also wants a safe trail during construction.

"Fall is a busy time on the trail, especially when it starts to cool down, and quite a few people commute to work between Liberty Lake and Post Falls on their bike," Miller said.

Despite interest from businesses in land near the freeway project and rumors of companies coming there, city officials said no new building permits have been issued for the area, which is a surprise with the interchange under construction.

SHAWN GUST/Press Phil Svoboda, of Spokane, walks his road bike over a detoured Centennial Trail on a ride to Coeur d'Alene.

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