Temple construction beginning

Work is continuing on the construction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple east of Satterfield Drive in Pocatello. Latter-day Saints officials say they’ve had to address the fact that some of the construction vehicles have driven too fast in the surrounding neighborhood.

POCATELLO — Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they’ve had to address public safety concerns recently about construction vehicles traveling through the Satterfield Drive area, where a temple is being built.

Elder Roger Prewitt and his wife, Sister Glenda Prewitt, both of Indianapolis, have come to Pocatello to serve as missionaries for the construction site. They’re tasked with making sure the project proceeds smoothly and addressing public concerns.

The Prewitts staff an office located in a trailer at the construction site and invite neighbors to stop by to share any inconveniences they may be experiencing.

Roger Prewitt said the general contractor, Okland Construction, has dismissed two drivers for speeding through the neighborhood, located in the city’s northeast corner.

He said he’s also heard a few complaints from neighbors about the trucks, which have been hauling dirt from the site to the planned location of the Northgate multi-use development nearby.

In response, Roger Prewitt said local law enforcement officials have stepped up their patrolling of the area. Though police have vowed to ticket any offenders, Roger Prewitt said they have not had to issue any tickets thus far.

“The police are finding, for the most part, the drivers are driving safely,” he said.

Roger Prewitt said he’s received one complaint of a driver using noisy compression release engine brakes in the neighborhood. He said Okland has instructed drivers not to use those brakes on hills in the residential area.

“If there are issues, we want to address them,” Roger Prewitt said. “We don’t want to cause a problem up there.”

One of the concerned neighbors, Rochelle Lillig, said she and a neighbor have witnessed construction trucks driving 35 mph through a school zone. Lillig said she’s also observed drivers failing to come to a stop at stop signs as they turn onto Satterfield, and her friend has taken cellphone videos of drivers’ traffic violations.

“Initially, about 80 percent of trucks didn’t even slow down for stop signs coming up Jerome to Satterfield,” Lillig said, adding a contractor’s truck nearly hit her and her husband once while they were driving on Satterfield.

Lillig has also been unnerved by the noise of truck drivers honking their horns to entertain school children, and she believes the heavy traffic has taken a toll on the condition of residential roadways.

Church officials noted Okland took videos of the roadways prior to starting construction to document any resulting deterioration.

Lillig met with the Prewitts about the issues and said she was encouraged that they took her concerns seriously.

An official with Okland declined to comment. He said the company is aware of the issues but will defer to the church to address them publicly.

Larry Fisher, local public affairs director for the church, said the church supports citations for any drivers who violate traffic laws, but he’s confident police are watching the neighborhood a bit closer, and drivers have been advised of the need to slow down a bit.

“I have heard about the concerns, and they’re legitimate concerns as far as if the truck drivers aren’t stopping or obeying the traffic laws,” Fisher said.

Prewitt said the good news for the neighborhood is that once drier weather arrives, it should only take a few days for the workers to finishing hauling dirt from the site, and truck traffic should decrease significantly.