The road more traveled

Highway district pushing to repair heavily used road in Harrison

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East Side Highway District has another project on the table.

And like the district's controversial overlay projects stalled by a county review, funding is a concern.

"We might have to cut some services," said district Commissioner Dick Edinger.

The highway district will hold an open house this month on an estimated $6.6 million project to reconstruct and pave the gravel portion of a heavily used Harrison road.

"(People complain about the road) all the time," said district Supervisor John Pankratz. "That road needs to be reconstructed."

The highway district has been working on designs and studies since about 2000 to pave 2.8 miles of Burma Road, Pankratz said.

That is also how long the district has been waiting to use federal aid dollars awarded for the project, which will cover 92.7 percent of the costs.

"Without this, the highway district would never be able to afford to fix or rebuild that road on our own," Pankratz said.

He emphasized the project's urgency, pointing out that Burma is an alternative route to Highway 97, and is used by roughly 600 drivers a day.

"The professionals tell me that anytime you get more than 100 vehicles a day on a gravel road, you need to start thinking about putting a hard surface on it," Pankratz said.

There still remains the issue of paying the 7.3 percent match, however.

With revenue down and the struggling economy, it will be difficult to scratch up those funds, Pankratz said.

"We have to hope for brighter days ahead, I guess," he said.

District Commissioner Dick Edinger said the agency will have to look at making sacrifices.

"We'll probably look at our winter plowing situation, and we'll have to look at some of the work that we do in the summertime," Edinger said of potential cutbacks. "As our employees retire or leave, we probably will not be hiring any new employees."

It is worth the cuts, he said, to hold onto the federal dollars for the project.

"That money is not going to be available again," he said.

The project will also include the realignment of switchbacks near Gotham Bay Road to meet current roadway standards. Guardrail and retaining walls will be added where needed.

Drivers can kick in their input at the public workshop, scheduled from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the district office at 6095 East Mullan Trail Road in Coeur d'Alene.

The road is scheduled to go under construction in 2012, Pankratz said.

The highway district is also facing financial pressure over three overlay projects it is pursuing in Coeur d'Alene and Harrison.

Local improvement districts the district commissioners approved to help fund the projects are now up for review by the Kootenai County commissioners, due to heavy public protest.

The district commissioners have already discussed cutting services to save money if the LIDs don't happen.

"We're under pressure all the time anyway," Edinger said of his concern over losing the LIDs. "We do the best we can with the money we have."

He emphasized the project's urgency, pointing out that Burma is an alternative route to Highway 97, and is used by roughly 600 drivers a day.

"The professionals tell me that anytime you get more than 100 vehicles a day on a gravel road, you need to start thinking about putting a hard surface on it," Pankratz said.

There still remains the issue of paying the 7.3 percent match, however.

With revenue down and the struggling economy, it will be difficult to scratch up those funds, Pankratz said.

"We have to hope for brighter days ahead, I guess," he said.

District Commissioner Dick Edinger said the agency will have to look at making sacrifices.

"We'll probably look at our winter plowing situation, and we'll have to look at some of the work that we do in the summertime," Edinger said of potential cutbacks. "As our employees retire or leave, we probably will not be hiring any new employees."

It is worth the cuts, he said, to hold onto the federal dollars for the project.

"That money is not going to be available again," he said.

The project will also include the realignment of switchbacks near Gotham Bay Road to meet current roadway standards. Guardrail and retaining walls will be added where needed.

Drivers can kick in their input at the public workshop, scheduled from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the district office at 6095 East Mullan Trail Road in Coeur d'Alene.

The road is scheduled to go under construction in 2012, Pankratz said.

The highway district is also facing financial pressure over three overlay projects it is pursuing in Coeur d'Alene and Harrison.

Local improvement districts the district commissioners approved to help fund the projects are now up for review by the Kootenai County commissioners, due to heavy public protest.

The district commissioners have already discussed cutting services to save money if the LIDs don't happen.

"We're under pressure all the time anyway," Edinger said of his concern over losing the LIDs. "We do the best we can with the money we have."

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