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Crews setting up shipping containers as safety catchment on Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry

Drivers on Highway 55 should expect alternating one-way traffic with 15-minute delays nears Smiths Ferry Thursday, Friday and Monday (Feb. 7).
Credit: Idaho Transportation Department

SMITHS FERRY, Idaho — Beginning Thursday, crews working on the Highway 55, Smiths Ferry Project will start setting up shipping containers in the project zone. 

According to Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) chief communication officer Vincent Trimboli, the shipping containers "are providing any extra safety catchment in case any rocks or snow slide down."

Valley County, Idaho first made the announcement on Facebook, stating drivers on Highway 55 should expect alternating one-way traffic with 15-minute delays for multiple hours each day. The announcement also said placing the shipping containers should happen during a three-to-four day period over the next two weeks. 

Trimboli told KTVB that ITD expects the work to take place Thursday, Friday (Feb. 4) and Monday (Feb. 7), but added the work schedule is subject to change. 

According to Trimboli, crews are setting up two shipping containers Thursday, with six to be placed in the project zone in total to provide an extra safety catchment. 

Credit: Idaho Transportation Department

"It will take a couple hours to get the containers in place," Trimboli said. "They will be reduced to one lane with no more than 15 minute delays."

The ITD spokesperson confirmed the shipping containers are being set up in result of recent rock slides happening along Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry. 

The area on Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry has experienced rockslides in March 2021, November 2021 and most recently last month.

Based on the current schedule for the shipping containers to be set up, drivers heading north this weekend for the 2022 McCall Winter Carnival will see 15-minute delays Thursday and Friday, but the one-way alternating traffic will not be set up this weekend. 

Those driving in the area on Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry will see delays Monday (Feb. 7) - if the current construction schedule stays intact - the day after the carnival wraps up. 

Credit: Idaho Transportation Department

When KTVB spoke with Trimboli Jan. 26, he said a third-party, geotechnical expert was brought in to assess the area and slopes to check if things were safe before ITD opened the road to the public after the third closure last month.

"This geotechnical expert helped us with the rockslide on Highway 95 a few years ago near Riggins and New Meadows," Trimboli said. "They came in and helped us decide the best ways to troubleshoot that rockslide. Essentially, we blasted that hill in a similar fashion to what we're doing here to make it safe for the traveling public."

The Highway 55, Smiths Ferry Project is expected to be finished by the end of 2022.

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