Boise & Garden City

Big question for BSU fans: Will Broadway Bridge reopen in time?

Check out the progress on the new Broadway Bridge

Crews have completed the foundation of the new Broadway Bridge and are building the deck. Construction of the bridge and road improvements to Broadway Avenue will continue through the summer. This video from the Idaho Transportation Department ex
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Crews have completed the foundation of the new Broadway Bridge and are building the deck. Construction of the bridge and road improvements to Broadway Avenue will continue through the summer. This video from the Idaho Transportation Department ex

The $20.2 million bridge replacement project won’t be completely finished by Sept. 10, when Boise State University hosts its football home opener at nearby Albertsons Stadium.

But fans will be able to use it to get to the 8:15 p.m. game against Washington State University, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

The Broadway Bridge flanks the east side of Albertsons Stadium and is a major access point for fans arriving for football games. When construction began in January and the bridge closed, ITD was vague as to whether it would be open again for the start of football.

“We do anticipate having the bridge open for that first game. We don’t know how many lanes it will be,” ITD spokesman Reed Hollinshead said last week.

The new bridge over the Boise River replaces an antiquated structure built in 1956 that no longer met modern safety standards. Traffic lanes will increase from four to six and there will be 10-foot-wide sidewalks and 18-foot-wide scenic overlooks on both sides.

75 years The minimum designed lifespan of the new bridge.

Once the bridge reopens, construction crews will continue to work on finishing touches, including completing access from the bridge to the Boise Greenbelt and taking care of landscaping and other small projects, Hollinshead said.

BSU plans to update fans on the status of the bridge as the game day approaches, said Joe Nickell, the university’s sports information director.

“When they closed it in the middle of basketball season, we sent emails, press releases, repeated communications to get as many people that might be coming to our basketball games so that they knew if they needed extra time to go around,” Nickell said. “Major communication will be the ultimate goal that week.”

Since January, crews have worked around the clock to demolish the bridge and build the new structure, cutting construction time from 18 months to nine. That also saved an estimated $3.5 million in costs.

The new bridge will be able to easily accommodate the 25,000 vehicles that crossed the old bridge daily. Usage is expected to increase to 35,000 vehicles a day over the next 10 years.

There had been rumors the bridge might open temporarily for the Sept. 10 football game and then close again. Hollinshead said that won’t be the case.

3 Number of bridges built over the years at this location, when the new bridge is completed. The first bridge was built in 1892 and replaced in 1956.

That’s welcome news for businesses just south of the bridge, who appeared to suffer the most from the closure. Managers at both Pita Pit and Baja Fresh Mexican Grill told the Statesman early this year they had to cut shifts or cut employees after business immediately dropped in January.

“It seems like it’s been years and years but it’s only been eight months,” Alex Hernandez, shift leader at Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, said last week.

Business was very slow over the summer but has improved with university students back in town, Hernandez said. The restaurant’s entire crew is looking forward to the bridge reopening so that business will return to normal, Hernandez said.

“I’m excited for the first game. It definitely should bring in some business. It always does,” she said.

Nick Epler, owner of Pita Pit on Broadway Avenue in Boise, says the construction of the nearby bridge has decreased sales by 50 percent.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

Q&A: Broadway Bridge rebuild

Q: So what’s all this construction been about?

The old Broadway Bridge outlived its design life and does not meet today’s safety standards. It can no longer accommodate the 25,000 vehicles that cross it each day, along with numerous bicyclists and pedestrians, officials said. In the next 10 years, usage is expected to increase by 10,000 vehicles and other users.

Q: What options do drivers have until the new bridge is up?

The Broadway Bridge is one of only a handful of vehicle bridges near Downtown Boise that cross the river, limiting the number of alternate routes for motorists.

Area traffic is being diverted to West ParkCenter Boulevard, which crosses the river about one-half mile northeast of Broadway via Beacon Street. Motorists can also use Boise Avenue, along with West University Drive through the Boise State University campus and South Capitol Boulevard.

A portion of Broadway north of University Drive remains open to allow customers to reach the Chili’s restaurant and other nearby businesses. They can leave along the same route.

The Idaho Transportation Department has worked closely with the Ada County Highway District to adjust the timing of traffic lights for increased traffic on the detour route, ITD spokeswoman Jennifer Gonzalez said in January.

“It’s on the top of all of our agendas to make the area accessible and remind the public that the businesses are open,” Gonzalez said.

Q: I use the Greenbelt. What do I need to know?

Bicyclists heading east on the north side of the Boise Greenbelt are being diverted onto Myrtle Street and Park Boulevard before rejoining the Greenbelt at Ferguson Street. A concrete barrier separates bicyclists from other motorists on Myrtle and Park, and they’re given a full traffic lane.

On the south side, bicyclists follow a portion of Cesar Chavez Lane along the northeastern corner of the Boise State campus, then get back on the Greenbelt via Belmont Street and Leadville Avenue. Signs guide the way.

When the project is completed, it will provide paved ramps from the Greenbelt to Broadway Avenue. Three of the four sides will also have a staircase leading to the road.

A new boat ramp will be constructed at the southeast corner to provide emergency responders access to the Boise River.

Idaho Statesman outdoors reporter Chadd Cripe took his 7-year-old son, Oliver, on a bike ride through the Greenbelt detours at Broadway. Here's what families will face during the construction, which is expected to last into the fall.

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