BLACKFOOT — Bob Butler, a representative of Butler Engineering of Shelley, offered some preliminary ideas to the Blackfoot City Council Tuesday evening for building an overpass or underpass to help alleviate the train crossing problem in Blackfoot.
Butler Engineering is well known in the state for building bridges including the Snake River Bridge in Firth and the Riverton Road Bridge in Blackfoot.
Butler said he believes there are some sites in Blackfoot that would be conducive for a locally funded overpass or underpass.
A few of the possible options that Butler suggested included building an underpass on Alice Street or Riverton Road (tying into Rich Street). He also suggested reconstructing Walker Street for an underpass crossing, adding that this option would probably have the greatest impact on businesses and homes and would likely have some "right-of way" issues to contend with. (Right-of-way means the the right to pass over property owned by another party).
Butler also suggested the possibility of building either an overpass or an underpass on South Broadway and South Shilling (near Topaz Street), saying that "the area has the length to build an overpass, but that an underpass may be less costly and less intrusive to the environment."
Butler roughly estimated that an overpass or underpass would initially cost between $800,000 to $1.3 million, but said that the cost could go up significantly if there is difficulty obtaining "right of way."
"I would like the council to consider an appropriate budget for a [feasibility] study - a more detailed analysis of these ideas," Butler said in closing.
A feasibility study would cost the city approximately $10,000 and would take about 2-3 months to complete. The study would examine in great detail things such as design standards, grades, lane widths, clearances and various funding options (such as grant money, low interest loans, etc...) for building an overpass or underpass in the city.
Mayor Mike Virtue said that they [Blackfoot City Council] are not specifying a [overpass/underpass] site at this time and that all possibilities need to be investigated further. He also stressed that the city has not made a commitment to any firm for the [feasibility] study or the construction of an overpass/underpass and that "Butler Engineering offered the presentation to the council as gratis."
The council moved to table the discussion until next month so that the city can look into the funding for the feasibility study.