COUNCIL, Idaho - U.S.. 95 - the main highway through Council - will be seeing some big changes in the next year.
The Idaho Transportation Department will be re-routing that highway to bypass the small town altogether, which has come with mixed feelings from residents and businesses in the area.
"Construction of the bypass is designed with safety and economic opportunity in mind," said Jennifer Gonzalez with ITD. "This bypass will move traffic, especially large trucks, from downtown where there were two 90 degree turns."
The $7.1 million project has already gotten its start as bulldozers work on what used to be private property. While the project is still in its early stages, there have been some complaints from residents.
"They're more upset that it's taking so long," said Leslie Breske, owner of The Rib Cage. "They have to wait on the flaggers, they have to wait on the dump trucks to move - it's dusty, it's loud."
Breske says, however, she has a more positive outlook on the bypass and what it means for her business.
"I don't think it's going to kill the town because we are who we are," said Breske. "It might create a small impact with not as much bypass traffic, but Council is Council. It's just a bypass mainly to get the 18-wheelers off a small road. The town is going to be the town, we have a huge heart and we're strong.".
Richard Laine has lived in Council all his life and has seen the community evolve, and the last thing he wants to see is Council turn into a ghost town.
"The town will move out that way but there will always be the heart of downtown," said Laine. "It's sad that it had to happen. Being bypassed as a community, you can see what other communities do when they get bypassed and we've had a lot of time to prepare to hopefully keep that from happening."
The project will revamp the downtown area through reconstructing the existing roadway and adding new lighting features. Keeping large trucks out of the downtown area will also address another concern.
"With the traffic we get now it's dangerous," said Laine. "Our schools are down here, the crosswalks you can't get your children to and from school safely."
"Most of the kids in town that live in town they ride their bikes to school, they ride they're bikes to the grocery store, they ride their bikes to their friends house," said Breske.
To help alleviate that problem, curbs, gutters and sidewalks will also be constructed throughout downtown and in front of Council Senior High which is located right next to the highway.
"Having the 18-wheelers out, it does make me feel better," said Breske.
Construction will continue through the fall, pause during the winter months, and will pick back up in spring 2017.
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