In 2014, the Idaho Transportation Department proposed replacing the historic Round Prairie Creek Bridge on U.S. Highway 95 near the Canadian border. The 24 feet wide and 31.6 feet long bridge, an example of a tee-beam bridge from the 1930s, was designed in 1932, cast in concrete and completed in 1933. The replacement bridge is to be a full span beam structure with a span length of 52 feet and a width of 44 feet; with abutments of precast concrete founded on pilings. The work will also consist of asphalt overlay, three box culverts and one pipe culvert. The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration.
The Idaho Transportation Department recognized that the proposed project of removing and replacing the bridge would adversely affect the characteristics that made the site “historic property.” In accordance with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regulations, Section 800.11(e) and Section 110(1) of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a “Determination of Adverse Effect” was drawn up to determine what action should be taken. The Federal Highway Administration consulted with the Idaho State Historical Preservation Officer and concluded that the project’s adverse effects could not be avoided, and a Memorandum of Agreement was drawn up to replace this historic site.
The Memorandum of Agreement between the Federal Highway Administration, Idaho Transportation Department, Idaho State Historical Preservation Officer, International Selkirk Loop, Boundary County Historical Society and the City of Bonners Ferry determined the replacement would be interpretive signs with text and photos provided by the Historical Society. One sign would be placed on the southern remnant of the historic Kootenai River Bridge to describe the many ways of crossing the river, and two signs would be hung on the historic brick building which houses the Fairbanks Morse diesel generator which supplied power to the City of Bonners Ferry in the 1930s.
Kate McManus, Architectural Historian, Idaho Transportation Department and Stephanie Sims, Executive Director, International Selkirk Loop were in contact with the Boundary County Historical Society throughout the process of creating the interpretive signs. The Education Committee for the Historical Society, Dottie Gray, Trustee; Howard Kent, Historian; Terry Howe, Field Researcher and Sue Kemmis, Museum Curator, undertook the gathering of historic photos and writing of historic information to be placed on the signs. Jane Rohling, Communication Arts, Eagle, Idaho provided the graphic layout for the project. Installation would be provided by the City of Bonners Ferry. The bridge panel was endorsed by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.
A dedication program has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, July 15, at the site of the interpretive signs. The program will include a “walk through” of the Fairbanks Morse diesel generator building.