Some progress has been made toward building an interchange with on- and off-ramps at the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge.

The $18 million project is slated to potentially go to bid in December if the Nez Perce Tribe can secure funding for the project, according to an update from the joint project. The interchange at U.S. Highway 12/95 is a coordinated effort by the tribe, J-U-B Engineering and the Idaho Transportation Department. The team has been meeting regularly since spring 2018.

The state will maintain the interchange once it’s built, but the tribe is saddled with the cost of the interchange project, which has been caught up in discussion and other bureaucratic snags for some time. At an August meeting, comments from ITD and Bureau of Indian Affairs representatives were reviewed regarding preliminary design, according to the update. Before final designs, the project team is meeting with property owners who may be affected by improvements in the area about 8 miles east of Lewiston.

Originally slated for a November construction date, the project has been pushed back a month as a draft Environmental Assessment is set to be drawn up by September or October. Once the draft is submitted, there will be a 30-day public comment period. After reviewing any public comment, the final Environmental Assessment will be ready so design and projected construction costs can be finalized.

Once that final assessment is completed, the tribe anticipates the project will be more attractive for funding.

The site has seen numerous fatal crashes, typically from drivers failing to yield as they cross four lanes of highway while exiting the casino.

Holm may be contacted at (208) 848-2275 or Follow him on Twitter @TomHolm4.

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