Plan ahead to avoid holiday travel nightmare on Idaho 55

Statesman staffJune 25, 2013 

Flaggers help move traffic at the intersection of Idaho 55 and the Banks-to-Lowman highway during the 2012 Memorial Day holiday.

PROVIDED BY THE IDAHO TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT

Do your July Fourth weekend travel plans include driving along Idaho Highway 55? More specifically, around that busy intersection with the Banks-to-Lowman highway?

The Idaho Transportation Department has some friendly advice that could serve you well: Plan ahead and avoid ending your trip on a sour note.

As the agency has done since 1995, ITD will help the glut of traffic flow at the intersection - just like it does during the longer Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends. Starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 7, flaggers and electronic message boards will help keep traffic running smoothly until traffic on the Banks-to-Lowman highway can safely enter Idaho 55 without help.

"Congestion is heaviest in this area, as travelers from the Garden Valley area access Idaho 55," ITD Maintenance Engineer Tom Points said. "We want everyone to have a safe and fun trip."

So, what kind of delays can you expect? 30-minute delays on the Banks-to-Lowman highway and 10 minutes on Idaho 55.

Ouch.

You do have options, however, to avoid feeling like you could have crammed in a whole season of "Game of Thrones" in the time it took you to get home. ITD offers the following tips:

• Congestion is usually heaviest on the last afternoon of the holiday weekend, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Consider returning from your trip before or after that time period to avoid the rush.

• Consider using an alternate route. To use U.S. Highway 95, travel north on Idaho 55 from McCall, take U.S. 95 south and use Interstate 84 to return to the Treasure Valley. This route may take less time than using Idaho 55 on a congested day. Recreationists leaving the Garden Valley area might consider using Idaho 21 to return to the Treasure Valley.

• If you choose to use Idaho 55 when congestion is heaviest, be patient and plan an extra hour or two for your return trip.

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