New I-15 interchange

Alternative C, one of the four proposed modifications to the interchange of Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 20 being evaluated by the Idaho Transportation Department.

The Idaho Transportation Department will start a digital open house Thursday for public feedback on potential changes to the intersection of Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 20.

The department held an initial public meeting on the proposed alternative interchanges in May 2019. ITD District 6 spokeswoman Megan Stark said the department had hoped to host an in-person public meeting this spring but decided to push it back and eventually move the presentation online.

The open house meeting, which lasts from Aug. 6 to Aug. 24, will include videos and slides going over the four proposed plans currently being considered for the highways:

  • Alternative C, which keeps the highway intersection at the same place but adds new lanes and ramps and replaces I-15 exits 118 and 119.
  • Alternative H, which moves the intersection to the north of Idaho Falls Regional Airport and would have U.S. 20 passing just south of Sage Creek Golf Course.
  • Alternative E1 would move the intersection a half-mile north, create a new bridge across the Snake River for U.S. 20 and close state highway exits 307, 308 and 309.
  • Alternative E2 which moves the intersection to the same place as E1 but replaces the three U.S. 20 exits with a single interchange near Higham Street.

“This exchange was built when our traffic volume was much, much less and here we are years later, needing to expand and improve the whole connector area to accommodate the increased traffic flow,” Stark said.

This round of public feedback is the final phase of the Planning and Environmental Linkage Study, a two-year review of the effects the change could have on residents and visitors. The road will then go through at least two years of review under the National Environmental Protection Act before any construction can be done.

People can access the virtual public meeting at www.i15us20connector.com during the 18 days it will be available online. Idaho Transportation Department will be receiving any other public comment on the alternative intersections through Aug. 31.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.