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Idaho Transportation Board Subcommittee on

 

State Highway System Adjustments

 

October 15, 2009

 

 

Idaho Transportation Board Subcommittee on State Highway System Adjustments Chairman Gary Blick and Transportation Board Members Lee Gagner, Jim Coleman, and Jerry Whitehead, Local Highway Technical Assistance Council Administrator Lance Holmstrom, Transportation Planning Administrator Matt Moore, and Chief Engineer Tom Cole, met at 1:30 PM on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at the Idaho Transportation Department, Boise, Idaho. District 4 Engineer (DE) Devin Rigby, DE3 Dave Jones, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Karl Vogt, Senior Transportation Planner Garry Young, Secretary to the Board Sue Higgins, Cassia County Commissioners, and representatives from Buhl and Wendell Highway Districts were also present.

 

STC 2841, SH-77 to Almo/City of Rocks Back Country Byway, District 4. DE Rigby provided historical information on this route. The Department provided assistance with securing federal discretionary funding to reconstruct the 16-mile Byway. The last phase to improve this route is under construction. He referenced correspondence from 2005 when a previous ITD Director indicated that staff would recommend to the Board that the route be added to the state highway system after it has been reconstructed.

 

DE Rigby noted that upon completion of Phase 4, the route will be in good shape and will have been constructed to state standards. The main resources the District would need to maintain the route are an employee and plow/sander truck. The initial costs are estimated at $265,000 with annual costs of approximately $91,000. Commissioner Clay Handy indicated the County would be receptive to a mutual aid agreement; working together on a maintenance proposal.

 

Chairman Blick expressed concern with the Department’s limited resources. He also questioned if the route meets the criteria for a state highway. The Planning Division reviewed the route in September 2009. The current score is 62, with the average annual daily traffic count 290.

 

Member Coleman asked what level of service the District would provide. DE Rigby replied 3. In response to Member Coleman’s question on whether the level of service could be lowered, DE Rigby said that another employee would be needed regardless.

 

Cassia County Commissioner Paul Christensen reported that the City of Rocks continues to grow in popularity. It is receiving over 100,000 visitors annually.

 

Chairman Blick cautioned that extending the road to Oakley/SH-27, would not be considered. He would not support that addition. He asked DE Rigby to work with the local officials on an acceptable plan to transfer jurisdiction of the route from SH-77 to Almo. The proposal should be presented to the full Transportation Board. He added that he does not believe this is an urgent matter, as no action would be taken before Phase 4 is completed.

 

            ACTION: Cole (Rigby)   DUE: May, 2010

 

 

Extension of SH-46, Wendell to Buhl, District 4. DE Rigby summarized ITD’s and the local highway jurisdictions’ efforts to add the approximately 15-mile Buhl to Wendell route to the state highway system. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in the mid 1990s that outlined each entity’s responsibilities and the procedures to transfer jurisdiction of the route. The Buhl and Wendell Highway Districts have completed the right-of-way acquisition process and are ready to relinquish the route. He noted that the Board Unallocated Account provided $1 million for the right-of-way acquisition.

 

DE Rigby reported on the status of the route, noting that the southern portion was built to standards and design plans are available. No design information or plans are available for approximately nine miles on the north end. The average annual daily traffic count is fairly high, 2800, which is higher than some routes on the state highway system in that vicinity. The rating was updated in September 2009 and resulted in a score of 89.

 

DE Rigby expressed concern that he would need to pull resources from elsewhere in the District to maintain this road. Initial costs, including items such as a sand shed in Buhl, plow/sander truck, and an employee, are estimated at $419,500, with on-going costs of $91,450 annually. He also reported that construction costs to improve 9 miles and four bridges are over $14 million.

 

Chairman Blick asked if the route can be added to the state system without meeting the state’s current design standards. DAG Vogt replied that the Board would be obligated to address safety issues such as signing and speed limits, but it would not be obligated to improve the road. DE Rigby added that if the route is added to the state system, state forces could be used to make improvements over time.

 

Member Whitehead asked if the bridge at the southern end is a liability, as it is about 40 years old. DE Rigby replied that the structure is in good shape. It will need some maintenance, but he believes it has over 20 years of life left.

 

Although the District does not have the resources to maintain this route, DE Rigby said if it is added to the state system, he will figure out a way to take care of the road; however, it would be at the expense of something else in the District. The other option is a cooperative agreement with the local highway districts. This has not been specifically discussed, but he believes the locals would be receptive to collaborating on a proposal.

 

Chairman Blick expressed concern that traffic would increase on the route when it is signed as a state highway and that the infrastructure is not in as good of shape as the City of Rocks Back Country Byway. He suggested working with the locals on an acceptable proposal and improving the route through the STIP process; scheduling improvements over time.

 

Member Gagner asked if the route would have to be signed as a state highway. DE Jones replied that not all state highways are signed. He also said that the state’s maintenance funding is partly based on mileage. If District 4 adds miles to its system, its maintenance budget will increase; however, he emphasized that the total amount of the Department’s maintenance money will not increase.

 

Chairman Blick asked DE Rigby to discuss the issue with the local officials and determine if an acceptable agreement can be reached. The proposal should be presented to the full Board. Improving the route through the STIP process should also be considered. DAG Vogt added that an MOU had been implemented in 1997. It may be appropriate to develop a new MOU to outline the procedures from this point forward, as there are a number of issues that need to be considered.

 

John Zamora, Director, Buhl Highway District, said they are cutting back due to decreasing revenue. They have employees, but no money, so they would be receptive to discussing a proposal, including possibly using local forces to make improvements to the road. He believes the Wendell Highway District would also be receptive to negotiations.

 

            ACTION: Cole (Rigby)   DUE: January, 2010

 

 

Banks to Lowman, District 3. DE Jones said a cooperative agreement was signed in 2004 with Boise County to address relinquishing the 33.4-mile Banks to Lowman highway to the state. The agreement has not been strictly adhered to and some of the activities are behind schedule. It calls for regular meetings between the District and County, which have not occurred. DE Jones will make a concerted effort to meet with the local officials on a regular basis.

 

Partly due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, improvement projects have now been scheduled on the entire route. The agreement indicates the road will be added to the state system in three increments and that ITD will pay Boise County to maintain the road until the entire 33-mile route is on the state system. DE Jones expressed concern with that proposal. He believes the state can maintain the road cheaper than the estimated $150,000 annual payment for each segment, as stated in the agreement. He added that he would need assistance with the initial costs, estimated at $1.2 million, for items such as equipment, a sand shed, and land to erect the maintenance facility. He believes he could absorb the on-going maintenance costs within his existing budget.

 

DE Jones said he has not discussed this proposal with Boise County officials. He requested concurrence from the Subcommittee to proceed in this direction.

 

Chairman Blick encouraged DE Jones to approach Boise County on this proposal. He should also explore funding options. A presentation could be made to the full Transportation Board in the future. DE Jones noted that it is not an urgent issue, as the scheduled improvements will not be completed for approximately five years.

 

            ACTION: Cole (Jones)   DUE: December, 2010

 

 

The meeting adjourned at 2:50 PM.

 

 

________signed_____________

Respectfully submitted by:

SUE S. HIGGINS

Secretary

Idaho Transportation Board

Page Last Modified: 11/6/2009 10:56:20 AM

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