Friday, June 24, 2011

Plan ahead for summer trips to the North Fork Ranger District

In 2010, the Clearwater National Forest awarded many construction and maintenance contracts funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Much of the contracted work is still underway on the North Fork Ranger District. The projects involve bridge repair and maintenance, road resurfacing, culvert replacements and recreation site improvements. Short traffic delays, detours and road closures can be expected, but once the work is completed, access to recreational destinations will be safer and more enjoyable to forest visitors. The improvements will also help to lessen impacts on the environment.

“ARRA has provided a once-in-a-career opportunity for making this many improvements to our forest’s roads and recreation sites,” explained Heather Berg, Acting District Ranger. “I’m thankful for the investment and employment prospects (the program) has created, but all of this work occurring at the same time is going to be tough.”

Below is a summary of work that will take place on the North Fork District during the summer and fall of 2011. All dates are estimates and may be subject to change. Please contact the Clearwater National Forest for updates and progress reports.

Road 247, between Aquarius Campground and Bungalow

Skull Creek Bridge, near milepost 30, will undergo maintenance work from June 1 - June 25. One lane will be open to through traffic, and travelers should expect short delays.

Flume Creek Bridge, near milepost 18, is scheduled for maintenance from June 25 – July 8. One lane will be open to traffic, but short delays may occur.

Larson Creek Culvert, milepost 37, will be replaced with a bridge. Work will start Aug. 29 and continue through early October.

The project will close Road 247 to through traffic. Visitors who are destined for the Washington Creek, Noe Creek, Kelly Creek and Hidden Creek Campgrounds and all points east will have to access the area via Road 250 from Pierce, ID or by way of Hoodoo Pass from Superior, MT;

Pavement rehabilitation will take place on the paved section of Road 247 starting June 20 and extending one month, through July 20. One lane will be open, but short delays are likely.

The entrance to the Aquarius Campground, near mile marker 25, is being realigned. The project started in early June and should last approximately six weeks. One lane is open to traffic, but motorist may experience brief delays. The campground and Purple Beach will remain open for camping and day use.

Road 250, between Bungalow and Hoodoo Pass

Lake Creek Bridge, milepost 67, will undergo maintenance work beginning July 1 and lasting until Aug. 15. One lane will be open for through traffic and short delays may occur.

Kelly Forks Bridge, at the junction of Roads 250 and 255, will undergo general maintenance from July 1 through Aug. 15. A single lane will remain open, but motorists can expect brief delays.

Fourth of July Pack Bridge, near milepost 8, will be reconstructed beginning July 12. The project is expected to last through Aug. 15. The work will close the bridge to all pedestrian, stock and motorcycle traffic.

Rosebud Culverts, between mileposts 5 and 9, will be replaced in July. The work will force the closure of Road 250 to through traffic. Forest visitors will be unable to access French Mountain Pass from Pierce during this time. Motorists are encouraged to use Road 669, the Shanghai Road, as a detour; however, trailers and commercial traffic should consider alternate routes.

Road 255 from Kelly Forks to Deception Gulch

Kelly Creek Bridge, mile marker 0, will be repaired starting July 1. The work will last six weeks. One lane will be open to through traffic and short delays may occur.

Road 705, Isabella Creek

Goat Creek Culverts, near milepost .5, will be replaced beginning July 18. The project will last until August 12. The work will close the road to through traffic. Vehicle access to the trailhead for Trails 95 and 96, routes that lead into the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area, will be affected

Road 737, Laundry Ridge

China Creek Culvert, near milepost 1.5, will be replaced June 27. The work will continue through July 15. The project will close the road to all through traffic.

Recreation site enhancements

These projects will consist of fire ring replacement, hitching post construction, the removal of outdated toilets and the placement of gravel pads beneath picnic tables at various recreation sites scattered throughout the North Fork Ranger District.

These sites include the Aquarius, Washington Creek, Noe Creek, Hidden Creek and Cedars Campgrounds; Flat Camp; Smith Ridge Trailhead; Isabella Point Trailhead and Kelly Creek Trailhead. New vault toilets will be installed at the Smith Ridge and Isabella Point Trailheads. Work will start sometime in June and continue through Labor Day. All sites will remain open for public use, but individual camp units or parking areas may be off limits during construction work.

Miscellaneous Projects

The decommissioning of approximately nine miles of non-system roads in the Coyote Creek area, near Birch Ridge, west of Cedars Campground is scheduled to start in mid-July. The roads are inaccessible to vehicles.

The employee housing and water system at the Kelly Forks Work Center are currently being replaced. The work should not affect visitor access to popular recreation areas in the Kelly Forks vicinity.

“This is going to be a challenging summer to get around on the North Fork, for the public as well as the Forest Service,” Berg said. “I would hate for someone to drive a long distance to find their way blocked by one of these projects. I want to get the word out now, and I encourage folks to plan ahead. Be sure to call Forest offices for current information.”

For more information or travel updates, contact Travis Mechling, District Engineer, at (208)476-8210 or the Clearwater National Forest Information Desk, (208)476-8267.

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