BOISE - U.S. Senators for Idaho Jim Risch and Mike Crapo recently announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award the City of Ponderay $1.4 million and the Nez Perce Tribe $19.1 million in funding as part of the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) competitive grant program.
This funding will help the City of Ponderay fund the design and engineering of safe, direct access from Ponderay to the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and support the Nez Perce Tribe as it works to rebuild the Aht'Wy interchange and plaza area on US 95/12, one of Idaho’s most dangerous stretches of road.
Risch and Crapo released the following statements applauding the announcement:
“This is great news for the City of Ponderay and the Nez Perce Tribe, and I want to thank Secretary Chao and her staff at the Department of Transportation for their support for these infrastructure projects,” said Risch. “These projects will revitalize Idaho’s aging infrastructure as the state continues to experience rapid growth while providing local jobs and new opportunities for economic growth.”
“The BUILD grants approved for the City of Ponderay and the Nez Perce Tribe will enhance safety measures on Idaho’s roadways for residents and local businesses,” said Crapo. “Further, these projects will be a major factor in bringing increased business and employment opportunities as the improvement projects bring visitors to the area. Secretary Chao has made supporting Idaho infrastructure a priority and I appreciate her and the Department of Transportation’s support.”
Plans for the Aht'Wy interchange include a bridge over the highway and four ramps to access the plaza near the east entrance.
The four-lane highway will be separated by concrete barrier, eliminating the existing median, turn lanes and acceleration lanes, to make room for ramps in ITD right of way and avoid environmental impacts. North of the interchange, the grassy median will remain. Retaining walls will be built to support the elevated ramps.
The parking area just north of the east entrance will be shifted south to provide the Army Corps of Engineers access to maintain the nearby wetland mitigation site for the Lower Granite Dam (labeled as the goose pasture). The old parking area will be restored with natural vegetation.
After the structure is built, the Idaho Transportation Department will assume ownership and maintain it as part of the public transportation system.