Following a 10-month closure due to saturation of its septic system drain field, the Idaho Transportation Department reopened the Snake River Rest Area on Interstate 84 with limited services on July 1. The agency is working with the city of Fruitland to connect the rest area to the city’s sewer system. To find out more about this partnership, the newspaper reached out to officials at both entities.

Jake Melder, public information officer for ITD, wrote in an email on July 16 that the two entities are still ironing out details of the partnership so work can begin soon.

“Currently, ITD and the City are working through the final details of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for this project,” Melder said. “We are looking to begin work on the sewer line this Fall and have it complete [in] Spring 2021. Cost sharing for construction and maintenance is a part of the MOU, so nothing is finalized yet, but we should have that info ready to go in the coming months.”

At the moment, the rest area offers portable toilets — as its permanent restrooms remain closed — vending machines and traveler information are also available for the public.

At city hall, Fruitland Mayor Brian Howell explained how the partnership will work.

“ITD will pay for the installation of a line which will connect to Fruitland’s waste water plant and [the] city will manage the project.”

Howell noted that the partnership opens doors for future development in the city.

“At this point the route for the sewer line has been approved,” Howell wrote in an email on July 15. “It will run close to the Loma Linda Subdivison and can possibly be use[d] by the residents there. This is a win-win for both parties as it will allow ITD to reopen the rest area fully and Fruitland to extend it City services into our impact area.”

“The City of Fruitland has been an excellent partner in this project,” said Melder. “We have had open and honest communication on sewage treatment in the area. This project meets the needs of both ITD and Fruitland as they look to grow in the southern part of their community.”

Until the project is completed, Melder notes that the rest area remains open and will function for motorists largely as it has in the past.

“The only difference is the restroom option is a portable toilet instead of an indoor facility.”

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