IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Construction begins Wednesday along Broadway Street in downtown Idaho Falls from Memorial Drive to Yellowstone Highway.
About 20,000 to 30,000 cars travel down Broadway Street in Idaho Falls each day. It has been about 20 to 30 years since the last major upgrade to infrastructure along the road. Starting Wednesday, construction will begin to put in all new curbs, gutters and sidewalks.
"Broadway is really our entrance, our front door to downtown," said Catherine Smith, executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation. "To have all new sidewalks, new curb and gutter, it's really going to brighten it up and translate what is happening throughout downtown, which is just a revitalization and vibrancy that is happening throughout downtown."
Crews will also be putting in new lighting, automatic sprinklers and planter boxes. Because of the new planter boxes, all of the trees along the road had to be taken out. The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation says more than half of the trees were unhealthy and the coffin-type planter boxes provide a poor growing condition for the trees. Some residents who live downtown are upset that the healthy trees are being taken down; however, more than 30 new trees will take their place.
"The trees really kind of have overgrown their lifespan," Smith said. "So, in this type of a high-density, high-traffic, really difficult corridor with so many vehicles traveling, the trees really had seen the end of their lifespan. And we visited with many horticulturists, arborists, experts. We didn't just make the decision overnight. It was a well-thought-out, year and a half process."
The $606,000 project is being funded by the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency and Idaho Falls Power.
"We really had the opportunity to take a look at what do we want to see downtown," Smith said. "So now at different times, we're going to have blooming trees. We're going to have different types of shade trees, and it's going to be very pretty once we get through this process."
The project is expected to be completed in about 45 days.