New interchange planned near Thornton on Hwy. 20

POSTED: 06:31 PM MDT Aug 29, 2013 
THORNTON, Idaho -

A new project is in the works to improve safety on Highway 20. The Idaho Transportation Department released plans for a new interchange and overpass near Thornton.

The plan would eliminate current access by the Shell station. An off-ramp leads to 4700 South, and the on-ramp would require building a new county road.

"I access this road all the time, my family does, boy, there is times you have to be really brave and get on the pedal to beat the traffic," said Marlin Hill, a local resident for 25 years.

"It will improve safety from Idaho Falls clear to Sugar City. We won't have any direct access on U.S. Highway 20, which will significantly improve its safety," said Bruce King, public information officer at District 6 Idaho Transportation Department.

"That's a dangerous intersection down there, and people getting on the highway and getting across the highway is very dangerous. There's been accidents there, so an overpass is needed," said Blair Kay, Rexburg city clerk.

There is concern how this project will impact local business owners.

"A project like this does interrupt some business property. We are actually in the process of discussion with property owners. We will have to buy some property so we have sufficient right away to construct the interchange," said King.

Those purchases will just be part of the $14 million price tag, with over 90 percent of that bill  footed by federal aid. Construction will begin in 2016.

ITD will have a meeting or local business owners Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Madison High School library. The meeting is to discuss particular impacts on the businesses, but the public is welcome to attend.

The public is also invited to comment at an open meeting on Sept. 19 at South Fork Elementary School in Madison County.