Monday, March 7, 2011

Still Time To Comment on Alder Creek Bridge...

Well, if we haven’t had enough controversy in Garden Valley, here is another chance to rehash old news. What I always thought of as a pretty fine silver bridge, shining over the waters of the grand South Fork of the Payette River, is now being depicted as an 82-year old has-been. Woe to any lady who shows her age and a bridge suffers the same fate.

The fellows who comprise the project team for the Southfork Payette River Bridge, J-U-B Engineers, Inc., did an admirable job, at the public open house held on March 2 at the Crouch Community Hall, presenting the update for the bridge replacement project.

Still, this controversial proposal, if we can call it that, being as how the Idaho Transportation District (ITD) is calling the shots...still, this proposal causes our quaint Garden Valley residents (including myself!) to metamorphose slowly into grim-faced cabin dwellers poking their shotguns out through crannies and hollering “git offn muh propity” and to peer through grimy locks of dead protein and spit ‘baccy juice before growling, “Ye hwat? Ah don terst any o them beyurocratic fancy suits!” every time the Alder Creek Bridge replacement is mentioned--or any property change, for that matter.

Still...since the first public meeting was held in Crouch two years ago, the sufficiency rating has has gone up from 34.9, in 2007, to 41.4. J-U-B Senior Project Manager, Brian Smith, says, “The Southfork Landing projections were pretty aggressive. We looked at the rate of development, including Southfork. The growth rate is 3%, which is not as exponential as originally presented. It does anticipate fair growth—we work with the State engineering
department to try and come up with that, based on development and building permits.”

Smith (left) explained, “The sufficiency rate is statewide. It goes through ITD for a yearly maintenance, with a scale from 0-100—it’s a rating of structural and strength efficiency; single-lane is scored lower than two-way traffic. Below 50 warrants it to be replaced.”

Perhaps if we wait until the County takes the development site back from SF Landing, for non-payment of taxes, the sufficiency rating will rise even higher and we won’t need a new bridge? Hmm, nice thought for our pockets, but according to the info board, “The aging, riveted truss-structure is 193’ long, 18’wide and is deteriorated to the point that it is structurally and functionally obsolete. Few bridges of its type still exist in Idaho because they have passed their usable life and no longer meet safety standards.”

Commissioner Jamie Anderson explained that previous county commissioner, Roger Jackson, claimed this was his baby. The County put in an application to Jerry Flatz, at CTAC. They administrate the federal funding and make sure its design is in accordance with requirements. Boise County and Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) are working with J-U-B to design and prepare a bid package for the construction of the new bridge.

J-U-B engineer Tim Blair (shown here with Jamie Anderson) says, “The price tag is estimated in the Concept Report at $2.4 million, including construction, engineering, etc. The new rating is based on new traffic volume and projections. The bridge structure has a reduced width, different from what was presented at the April 2007 public open house.”

A large chunk of the money comes from federal funding. 7.34 % is typically matched locally. “In this case,” Commissioner Anderson says, “Southfork Landing is paying for the match of 7.34%, as part of the road agreement—they have been paying all along.”

Tim Blair informed residents that up to this point, the bridge, design, permit, environmental assessment, etc., have come to $300K, of which SFL has paid the 7.34% match. When the project goes to construction, the local match is paid upfront. There is local concern that, since SFL people are two years in arrears on their taxes and Oaas Laney have just won a $4M+ suit against the County, they might not be trusted to pay the upfront match.

What if it doesn’t get paid? “The project gets delayed,” says Blair.

So, how imperative is this bridge replacement, if it can be delayed because Southfork Landing doesn’t pay the upfront match? Just a thought, looking sideways through my greasy, dead protein, gun on hip.

The guys from J-U-B say that the preliminary surveying, design and environmental work is under way and construction is anticipated for 2012.

Tim Blair mentions, “We’re worried about eminent domain. When the right-of-way process begins, then we start negotiating with landowners.”

Patricia Gardner is the landowner of the northwest side of the bridge. The northeast side won’t need to be acquired. Land will also need to be acquired southeast of the bridge. Owners want to know what the fair market value is based on.

Brian Smith answered, “That’s part of the discussion. If it would help you, we can put stakes out over the ground.” The gist of landowner concern is, you can put stakes anywhere you like, it’s the land and the money that count.

According to J-U-B Engineers, Inc., “public involvement can no longer be an afterthought; it must be an integral part of doing business...engaging those affected by decisions before they are made usually leads to more supported and sustainable outcomes.”

This bridge is controversial in Garden Valley, because of its proximity to, and influence by, the unpopular Southfork Landing development. There are those who doubt this is a safety issue and look at the bridge replacement as one more scheme influenced by SFL partners.

Residents of Boise County may still contact J-U-B, by calling Bryant Kuechle, at 800-252-8929; mail their comments to Southfork Payette River Bridge Project Team, c/o The Langdon Group, 250 S. Beechwood Ave., Suite 201, Boise, Idaho 83709-0944; or e-mail their concerns to

To be considered in the official comment period, comments must be received by March 16, 2011.

Left: Garden Valley resident Dick Goetsch and Crouch City Clerk, Kim Bosse, with Commissioner Anderson.


  1. If local money is required, the schools are far more important.