I-90 tree removal 4th of July Pass

The Idaho Transportation Department is set to begin removing hazardous trees along I-90 near Fourth of July Pass later this month in an effort to enhance highway safety.

Contractors will begin removing trees along two miles of Interstate 90 from late April through May near milepost 33.

The work is expected to last about a month, and travelers can expect work on the shoulders and single-lane or possible two-lane closures on I-90. Any closures are expected to last no more than 10 minutes.

Trees will be removed on the eastbound side of I-90 first, to be followed by the westbound side. The dead and dying trees are being removed from 200 acres of state property, while contractors will also harvest other area trees to cover operating costs.

“It’s important to do this work when we can because trees can fall on the road or act as obstacles when people drive off the road,” operations engineer Jerry Wilson said. “We’ve found a way to let experts remove these trees at no extra cost to the taxpayers, while enhancing their safety.”

ITD says trees can be hazardous when they fall, shade roadways and cause icy conditions in winter as well as hide any approaching wildlife. In the past, ITD has hired help to remove trees that could not be safely removed with its own employees and equipment, with a recent contract charging $1,000 per tree.

“Given the number of trees that need to be removed in this section, that wasn’t feasible,” Wilson said. “If this process works well, ITD could continue to use similar partnerships to increase safety along the entire corridor.”