The old interchange was built in the mid-1960s, and the aging and obsolete bridges need to be replaced. In addition, Pocatello and Chubbuck have grown significantly to the north of I-86 and east of I-15. Through traffic has also increased resulting in more congestion in the interchange.
Currently, a particularly challenging spot for drivers is traveling west toward Chubbuck from the Pocatello Creek onramp. “Drivers have just 2,400 feet to move from the right lane to the far left lane to exit to I-86. This results in difficult maneuvers,” said District Engineer Todd Hubbard.
To eliminate this problem the new design will allow through traffic traveling north toward Idaho Falls to remain in a left lane. Motorists entering the freeway northbound from Pocatello Creek can continue north to merge with northbound traffic or they can merge with westbound traffic passing under a bridge to head toward Chubbuck.
“This also eliminates traffic merging from the left coming from Chubbuck. That’s important because drivers expect merging traffic to come from the right,” said Co-Project Manager Zak Johnson.
Construction will also include a significant change for Chubbuck Road. Currently the road passes over I-15 and has limited accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling toward the Wellness Complex. The new design makes Chubbuck Road into an underpass with sidewalk and bicycle lanes.
In addition, a north-south bicycle and pedestrian pathway is planned to help facilitate linking Pocatello Creek Road with the Portneuf Wellness Complex. This was designed in coordination with the Greenway Foundation.
“Bicycle and pedestrian access to the Highland area was something the community saw as very important,” said Co-Project Manager Greg Roberts.
The joint venture of Sundt Construction from Utah and Cannon Builders from Blackfoot is currently reviewing the project design and preparing a work schedule. Some equipment may be moved into position prior to the mid-July construction start date.
This project is partially funded with Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation funds as part of Governor Little’s Leading Idaho initiative. The program allows ITD to accelerate project timelines to address rapid growth and build critical infrastructure today that would otherwise take many years to fund and build.