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Idaho Transportation Board Subcommittee on

 

Adjustments to the State Highway System

 

January 20, 2004

 

 

Transportation Board Vice Chairman Jack Combo and Members Monte C. McClure and Gary Blick, and Local Highway Technical Assistance Council Administrator Joe Haynes, Assistant Chief Engineer of Development (ACE-D) Steve Hutchinson, Transportation Planning Administrator Charles Rountree, Senior Transportation Planner Garry Young, and Secretary to the Board Sue Higgins, met at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, January 20 in Room 200 at the Idaho Transportation Department, Boise, Idaho.  Other ITD staff members in attendance for all or part of the meeting included Director Dave Ekern, Chief Engineer Jimmy Ross, Deputy Attorney General Steve Bywater, District 4 Engineer Devin Rigby, Assistant District 3 Engineer – Operations Elaine Davis, and District 3 Associate Engineer Kyle Radek.

 

Subcommittee Chairman McClure presided.

 

Banks to Lowman Highway.  The Subcommittee and Boise County Commissioners had an opportunity to review and comment on the draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) to transfer the Banks to Lowman highway to ITD in segments.  Member Combo believes the MOU is ready to be presented to the full Transportation Board for consideration. 

 

Mr. Radek provided a summary of the Banks-Lowman highway origin/destination study conducted over the 4th of July weekend last year.  The objective was to study the traffic patterns and determine the percentage of traffic that is not local.  For all locations included in the study – the approach from the Banks-Lowman Highway and the northbound and southbound approaches on SH-55 – only 1.4% of traffic was found to be local.

 

Chairman McClure commented that the study confirms that the route functions as a state highway rather than a local road.  The consensus of the subcommittee was to have District 3 prepare a Board agenda item transferring the Banks-Lowman highway to the state highway system, as outlined in the MOU, for the March 22-23 Board meeting.

 

ACTION:  Prepare Board agenda item – ACE-D Hutchinson (District 3); and contact Boise County to inform it of this action and determine if it would like to speak to the Board in March – Mr. Haynes.  DUE: March 8

 

I-84 Business, Nampa.  At the last meeting, Chairman McClure mentioned that the City of Nampa expressed an interest in adding the I-84 Business route to the City’s system.  Mr. Haynes reported that he has had preliminary discussions with city officials; however, they asked that this proposal be put on hold until the outcome of the Urban Renewal Board is determined.  The City is planning a vote on the future of this entity next month.  The outcome of that vote will impact the City’s interest in pursuing the I-84B proposal.

 

Earlier, Chairman McClure asked Mr. Young for a preliminary evaluation of this route.  I-84B in Nampa and Caldwell scored 42 points.  Mr. Young clarified that the rating system was established for rural routes, not urban roads.  Chairman McClure questioned the need to establish a rating system for urban routes.  He also stated that the other state routes in Nampa, SH-55 and SH-45, have to be kept in mind and that continuity to the state system is needed.

 

SH-46 Extension, Buhl to Wendell.  The history of the Buhl to Wendell route and the existing MOU with the local entities was discussed.  Mr. Haynes reminded the group that the locals were not able to complete the environmental document due to the cost, as the estimate was approximately double the initial budgeted amount.  Member Blick added that the local officials were concerned with expending that money for the environmental work without a guarantee that the road would be relinquished from their system.  He encouraged the group to make a firm decision on this route and give the locals direction.  He believes the local entities would be receptive to relinquishing the route to the state in stages, and would probably be receptive to doing more to help make this proposal a reality.

 

Chairman McClure asked about the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  ACE-D Hutchinson reminded the group that if state funds are used, an EIS would not be necessary.  The EIS is a federal requirement, although the Department has to be sensitive to environmental issues.

 

In response to Member Combo’s question on the preferred alignment, ACE-D Hutchinson replied that the corridor study could be used to determine the alignment.  Member Blick added that the local public agencies assume the Buhl to Wendell route would be the alignment identified in the study; although the southern terminus is still an issue.  DE Rigby stated that the study indicated that 71% of the traffic is local; Buhl is the destination, so the logical termini at the southern end would be in Buhl. 

 

ACE-D Hutchinson reminded the Subcommittee that if this route is added to the state’s system, other priority projects would likely be delayed, as the Department will not be receiving additional resources when it adds the route.  Member Blick suggested adding the route in sections, starting with the north end, and having LHTAC help fund improvements.

 

CE Ross questioned the existing MOU, as it indicates the locals would be responsible for right-of-way acquisition and design, and then ITD would assume jurisdiction and construct the improvements.  He asked if that commitment has changed.  Member McClure responded that the local entities were unable to fund the EIS.  Mr. Haynes added that the cost to develop the right-of-way plans, in conjunction with the EIS, were beyond the locals’ resources.

 

TPA Rountree does not believe excessive improvements would be needed to bring the northern portion of the route up to acceptable state standards, as the grade is up to standard, and there is a project in the current program to make other improvements to the route.  He questioned the match commitment that the locals could make and whether the Board would be receptive to providing the additional funds if the route is going to be added to the state system. 

 

Chairman McClure concurred that the available local funds that could be committed to this project should be determined and consideration given to the state supplementing additional resources.  He also reiterated ACE-D Hutchinson’s comments that other ITD priorities may suffer.  ACE-D Hutchinson added that not only will ITD be responsible to bring the road up to acceptable state standards, but District 4 will also be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the route.  Chairman McClure commented on the Board’s initial desire to relinquish mileage when mileage is added to the state system.  The Department is proceeding with the approximate 37-mile Banks to Lowman Highway, and is now seriously contemplating adding the Buhl to Wendell route, about 14 miles.  He realizes, however, that the determination has to be whether the route functions as a state highway.

 

Mr. Haynes emphasized that the local public agencies are continuously adding lane miles to their systems.

 

ACE-D Hutchinson suggested abiding by the MOU, that if the locals acquire the right-of-way and help with the environmental and design process, the state should assume jurisdiction.  He supported a joint effort with LHTAC on funding, and determining how much match the locals could provide and having the Board consider funding the rest.

 

Member Blick asked if the locals are aware of the needed right-of-way, related requirements, and estimated cost.  DE Rigby said his office could research that information and provide guidance to the local officials by May.  A rough estimate is 120 feet.  Member Blick said he will visit with the local officials about the discussion at today’s meeting and discuss the right-of-way issue with them.  Director Ekern emphasized that if federal funds will be used, to ensure that the locals follow the federal right-of-way acquisition requirements.

 

ACTION:  Determine right-of-way requirements – ACE-D Hutchinson (District 4); and visit with locals about proceeding with the existing MOU and, specifically, the right-of-way requirements – Member Blick.  DUE: May

 

SH-25.  DE Rigby reported that he has had additional discussions with the Jerome Highway District on SH-25.  It seems receptive to adding SH-25 to its system.  He believes the next step is to convene all of the local public agencies involved in or impacted by the state’s relinquishment of SH-25 to determine their needs and concerns.  He added that South Lincoln in the City of Jerome has not been included in earlier discussions, but that the City expressed interest in assuming ownership of this road.  The City currently maintains the route.

 

In response to Chairman McClure’s question on the mileage involved, DE Rigby replied between 13 and 14 miles.  He concurred that this mileage is very comparable to the Buhl to Wendell route.

 

ACTION:  Visit with all impacted local public agencies regarding the state’s relinquishment of SH-25 (US-93 east to I-84) to identify their issues and concerns – ACE-D Hutchinson (District 4).  DUE: May

 

SH-43 and Hitt Road.  ACE-D Hutchinson reported on Bonneville County’s proposal to trade SH-43 and Hitt Road between US-20 and US-26.  He believes improvements will be needed soon on the local road because of the growth occurring in that area.

 

CE Ross believes an additional east-west route is needed in that vicinity rather than a north-south road.  Additionally, it may be beneficial to consider a route that removes through traffic from downtown Idaho Falls.  Director Ekern suggested completing an area-wide transportation study and using that as the basis to determine the appropriate state highway routes.  A number of changes have occurred recently or are taking place in the near future on the state’s system, including the addition of a number of interchanges on I-15 and US-20.  The consensus of the Subcommittee was to pursue this option.

 

ACTION:  Determine if the impacted local officials are receptive to pursuing an area-wide transportation study and develop a proposal to proceed in that direction – ACE-D Hutchinson (District 6) and TPA Rountree.  DUE: March

 

Adding Routes to State System to Fund Improvements, then Relinquishing/Additional Snake River Crossing, Twin Falls Area.  Chairman McClure asked if there is interest in developing a policy to address requests to add local roads to the state highway system to fund improvements, and then relinquishing the route back to the local jurisdiction after completion of the project.  Member Combo provided a history on this issue; dating to the early 1990s when the legislature approved general funds for the Clear Lake Grade project, and others, and the local officials requested ITD’s assistance to construct the project due to its lack of expertise.

 

Member Blick said that a local official thought the Department has a policy on this and asked about it relating to the additional Snake River Crossing study in the Twin Falls area.  He believes the local entities have about $80,000 available to use as match for the EIS.  ACE-D Hutchinson reported that the project was established with a tapered match, so the federal funds will be used first and the locals will need to provide the funds at the end of the project, allowing more time for the locals to identify the match source.

 

Member Blick does not expect the bridge to be built soon, but emphasized that the locals would like to identify the corridor for this crossing so it can protect the needed right-of-way.  TPA Rountree clarified that the corridor can be identified and protected without an EIS.  He questioned the feasibility of converting the federal funds identified for the EIS into right-of-way acquisition funds.  Member Blick said that the corridor has not been confirmed.  Two locations are being contemplated.  DE Rigby concurred.  He said one corridor is out of the way, but at a narrower location, while the other corridor has a better alignment, but is at a wider area in the canyon.  The two locations are about 1 ½ miles apart.

 

Director Ekern suggested preparing a proposal for the locals and Board to consider; outlining the needed steps, determining what funds the locals will be able to commit, and then requesting Board consideration to provide the additional funds.  He would like DAG Bywater to review the legal issues.

 

Member Blick asked if TPA Rountree or another appropriate staff member could attend a meeting in the Twin Falls area to discuss the issues with the local officials and answer questions.

 

ACTION:  Draft proposal for Board and locals to consider to partner on the additional Snake River Crossing in the Twin Falls area and schedule a meeting to discuss the issues with the locals – TPA Rountree, with assistance from Legal.  DUE: April

 

Old/New Business.  Mr. Haynes reported that he received a call recently from the Kamiah Highway District.  It expressed renewed interest in acquiring SH-64.  He will pursue discussions on that route with the local entities.

 

Director Ekern believes it is important for ITD to partner with the local entities to address the continued growth in the Treasure Valley.  Boise is transitioning to a Transportation Management Area, which will result in changes to the existing ITD-Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) relationship.  He would like to request Board State-Funded Unallocated Account money to fund two projects in FY04 at the regular Board meeting tomorrow.  The first partnership is with COMPASS to develop a long-range comprehensive plan.  ITD’s commitment would be up to $500,000.  The second project is for the Ada County Highway District Three Cities River Crossing project in the amount not to exceed $300,000.

 

The subcommittee concurred with proceeding with these requests.

 

The meeting adjourned at 4:45 PM.

 

 

 

________signed_________

Respectfully submitted by:

SUE S. HIGGINS

Secretary

Idaho Transportation Board

Page Last Modified: 1/3/2005 3:27:49 PM

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