A $9-million construction project to realign and straighten the MacArthur Lake curves on Highway 95 is on track to begin construction in 2023.
That stretch, which claimed the life of a Naples man February 4, is one of the last of the dangerous stretches of Highway 95 through Boundary County after major improvements in the past two decades replaced the winding old North Hill and Hall Mountain Junction, drastically reducing the number of collisions and traffic fatalities in Boundary County.
From 2015 to 2018, the latest data available, there were nine crashes in the MacArthur Lake area, with one fatality in 2016 and one injury.
The project will rebuild one mile of highway, elevating the roadbed and adjusting the sharp curves. A wildlife underpass will allow animals safe access to the refuge.
Safety improvements to Highway 95 near MacArthur Lake were originally identified for design in the early 2000s due to crashes associated with wildlife and icy conditions. The project was removed from the program due to high costs, allowing ITD to address other needs in the area.
Although construction funding was never identified, ITD worked with partners to implement other available options while addressing different safety needs. ITD worked with Idaho Fish and Game to remove brush, improving drivers’ ability to see wildlife near the road. A new turn lane was also striped for those turning left onto MacArthur Lake Road.
Funding for safety improvements is limited, meaning ITD must rank projects to put it to the best use. Crashes indicate areas in need of changes. Following a fatal crash in 2016, funding for this area was identified and design began again.
In the current plan, the south end of the new bridge will be shifted to the east approximately 50 feet, but the north end will not move.
During construction, traffic is planned to run on temporary lanes to the west.
ITD is working with Idaho Fish and Game and the Kootenai Tribe to develop plans, including the likely installation of wildlife fencing to encourage animals to pass underneath the new structure once built.
The current design does not include plans to improve the Shiloh Loop and MacArthur Lake Road, unlike earlier plans, to reduce construction costs.