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State Highway System Adjustments
February 17, 2010
Board Subcommittee on State Highway System Adjustments Chairman Gary Blick and Transportation
Board Members Lee Gagner and Jan Vassar, Local Highway Technical Assistance
Council Administrator Lance Holmstrom, and Chief Engineer Tom Cole, met at 11:00
AM on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at the Idaho Transportation Department,
Boise, Idaho. District 4 Engineer (DE)
STC 2841, SH-77 to Almo/City of Rocks Back Country Byway, District 4. Chairman Blick noted that Cassia County agreed to maintain this route after it is transferred to the state’s system. At the Board meeting last month, the Board agreed to provide material (sand, salt) to the County as compensation for the locals to maintain the route. Staff was to proceed with drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to this effect. Since then, there have been comments that Cassia County would like to relinquish all of its road and bridge responsibilities to the highway districts within the county. There was a question on whether ITD could provide a truck to the highway district to assist it with the maintenance responsibilities on the City of Rocks Back Country Byway.
Member Gagner asked if MOUs are legally binding. DAG Vogt replied that MOUs are a simple form of a joint powers of agreement. They are contracts that are intended to endure.
Because the Board approved proceeding with the addition of STC 2841 to the state system last month with the understanding that Cassia County would maintain the road as a state highway with material provided by ITD, Member Gagner is reluctant to provide a truck to the local agency.
The general consensus was for staff to address the concern of Cassia County relinquishing its highway responsibilities to highway districts through the MOU.
ACTION: Cole/Vogt (Rigby) DUE: May, 2010
Extension of SH-46, Wendell to Buhl, District 4. DE Rigby summarized options to add the Wendell to Buhl route to the state highway system. If the transaction is completed on July 1, 2010, the three local highway districts would be willing to maintain the road at a total cost of approximately $75,000. DE Rigby believes he can maintain the road on a temporary basis for about $40,500. He noted that long-term, additional resources, including a truck and employee, will be needed. The estimated future maintenance costs are $91,000 annually. Minor safety improvements, such as patching and overlays, could be completed immediately with state forces for about $40,000. Additionally, projects to bring the road up to current standards would cost about $14.5 million.
DE Rigby noted that another issue is right-of-way reimbursement. The state provided $1 million for the locals to acquire right-of-way. The City of Buhl is requesting reimbursement of $7,274.12 for right-of-way costs that were borne by the local entity.
Member Gagner asked why the local entities are not responsible for the minor improvements estimated at $40,000. He noted that essentially the state is paying for everything if it provided the right-of-way funding. DE Rigby commented that there is extensive history on this issue. The right-of-way ended up costing more due to relocation issues related to utilities and irrigation systems.
Member Gagner expressed concern that the route does not meet current standards. He asked what ITD’s obligation will be to improve the road. He also questioned adding the road to the state system at this time, noting the Department’s dire financial situation.
DAG Vogt replied that the Department has design immunity. If the road was built to the standards at that time, there should be no liability regarding the design and the Board would not be obligated to improve the road to current standards immediately. However, if the Department does not have the plans for the road or documentation affirming that the road was constructed to the design standards at that time, there may be liability related to the design.
DE Rigby replied that the District received plans for approximately five miles of the road. It is his understanding that the majority of the route was built by highway district staff and that there are no plans available. DAG Vogt believes due diligence is needed to address that concern. One option may be to contractually address the issue and state that the highway district is liable for the design.
Regarding non-design issues, DAG Vogt said ITD has some gravel roads. Not all of the state highways meet current standards. There are always opportunities for individuals to sue the state for various reasons. The Department has a responsibility to maintain the road and ensure the safety of the traveling public.
Member Gagner asked about funding improvements and what impact that may have on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. DE Rigby replied that projects on this route would be a high priority due to the poor pavement condition and safety concerns. The average daily traffic count is fairly high on this road and safety improvements are needed. Although the road would be a high priority, the projects would compete for funding with the state’s other needs. DAG Vogt added that there may be immediate liability on the state’s behalf due to the condition of the road, particularly potholes.
Member Gagner asked for CE Cole’s opinion on adding this route to the state system. CE Cole replied that ideally, he would like to relinquish routes, but that is difficult to do. Generally, ITD has to improve the route when it is added to the state system and ITD has to improve the route before it can relinquish a road. Extending SH-46 would increase the Department’s obligations without more revenue. Again, his preference would be to relinquish miles, which will be discussed later. He added that if the Wendell to Buhl route is added to the state system, minor improvements, such as guardrail work, could be completed by state forces.
Chairman Blick suggested drafting an MOU to proceed with the acquisition of this route.
In response to DE Rigby’s request for clarification on the direction to proceed, the consensus was that ITD will maintain the route and will be responsible for minor improvements such as guardrail repair, signing, and striping.
ACTION: Cole (Rigby) DUE: May, 2010
Removal/Addition Process. Mr. Young prepared a white paper on the history of and current procedures to add or remove mileage from the state highway system. In 1990 Idaho Code was revised, making it difficult to remove highways from the state system that do not function as state highways, as consent of the applicable local highway jurisdiction was needed for ITD to abandon or relinquish any route. He noted that in the mid 1990’s, a study was undertaken to determine which roads should be removed from the state highway system. Of the 8 routes totaling almost 80 miles, only the 5.7 mile Old Horseshoe Bend Hill Road (formerly SH-55) has been relinquished.
Upon receipt of an approved state/local agreement for a system adjustment, Mr. Young prepares a Board agenda item that is submitted to the full Board for consideration. If it is approved, the Board signs an official minute entry describing the transaction and it is then forwarded to the Right-of-Way Section for recording and deeding.
Business Loops and Spurs. CE Cole reported that there have been some legislative inquiries regarding adding and removing mileage from the state highway system. Some legislators expressed concern on the difficulty for the state to relinquish miles. There was a request for information on routes that do not function as state highways. He provided a list of routes, mainly business loops and spurs, that fall under this category.
Administrator Holmstrom noted that local jurisdictions have more control, regulatory authority, on routes under their jurisdiction, which presumably would be an incentive to locals to add state roads to their system. He added, however, that due to the state’s growth, local entities have been adding a lot of miles to their system without additional revenue to maintain the roads.
The consensus was to update the list of roads that do not function as state highways.
ACTION: Cole DUE: July, 2010
The meeting adjourned at 12:30 PM.
Respectfully submitted by:
SUE S. HIGGINS
Idaho Transportation Board