POST FALLS, Idaho — Sounds of clattering plates, welcoming servers, and restaurant chatter fills the inside of Dueling Irons restaurant in Post Falls. But right outside the doors, that sound turns to the whizzing of freeway traffic from the adjacent Interstate 90.
Patrons and servers at the restaurant have noticed the amount of cars driving I-90 between Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene has increased over the years.
Kristin Ball, a server at Dueling Irons, says she drives from Post Falls to Coeur d'Alene often.
"It's a huge difference. There's so much more traffic. Like, the population is just growing drastically," Ball said.
Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is working on plans to expand and enhance I-90 between Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene. The plan includes expanding the freeway from two to four lanes in each direction.
The project could cost up to one billion dollars, according to ITD. In addition to the lane expansion, it would fund improvements to some of the freeway's interchanges and bridges.
ITD said currently 58,000 people drive the 4.5-mile stretch of I-90 between Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene daily. In the next 20 years, ITD expects that number to more than double to 137,000 commuters.
That's why Scott Johnson, who drives that stretch of I90 several times a week, says he approves of the plan.
"I think it would be fine for over here. I do think from the Stateline to at least Coeur d'Alene," Johnson said.
But both Johnson and Ball said they're concerned about the timeline of the project. Johnson fears by the time the expansion is complete, the number of commuters will have increased enough that the freeway will still be congested.
ITD is in the planning stages currently. They hope to have the initial designs finished by this year. If ITD can find and approve funding, they said construction could start by 2024.
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