By Cameron Rasmusson
Bonner County residents, rejoice: Your long-lost route between Sandpoint and Ponderay is open again.
The city of Sandpoint announced Tuesday the Schweitzer Bridge and newly-built roundabout will be open by noon today — Wednesday, Nov. 22 — after months of work by construction crews. The reopening of Schweitzer Cutoff Road re-establishes a popular connection between Sandpoint and Ponderay via North Boyer Avenue. The finished project should also help relieve traffic congestion on Larch Street and Fifth Avenue, which until this week was one of only a few primary routes open between Sandpoint and Ponderay.
To commemorate the occasion, the city posted a time-lapse video to its Facebook page showing the construction transformation from its previous simple intersection to a torn-up mound of earth and asphalt and finally to a paved, polished roundabout and bridge. The video is available to view on the city of Sandpoint Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cityofsandpoint.
Since its late-spring beginnings, it’s been a long road to complete the bridge and roundabout project, which was dogged by difficult weather conditions and early snowfall. The project was a joint effort by Ponderay and Sandpoint through emergency funding made available through the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council.
It won’t be long before the Schweitzer Cutoff roundabout adds beauty as well as utility to the street. The Sandpoint Arts Commission is preparing a project seeking art proposals from several artists, who must apply for consideration by Dec. 31. In February, a committee will select three short-listed artists to present their projects. The public will then have the opportunity to vote for the favorite project, which will then be created and purchased by the city. The artwork installation should be complete by June 2019, and it will be done in coordination with a landscape designer to create a unified aesthetic impression
“I really think that this is a great way to get community involvement in some of the art pieces around town,” said Arts Commission member Ffion Soltis after announcing the project in July. “That in itself is pretty exciting and something that hasn’t happened around town before.”
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