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State Highway System Adjustments
March 16, 2011
Idaho Transportation Board Subcommittee on State Highway System Adjustments Chairman Gary Blick and Transportation Board Members Lee Gagner and Jan Vassar, Chief Engineer (CE) Tom Cole, Acting Transportation Planning Administrator Randy Kyrias, and Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) Administrator Lance Holmstrom met at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at the Idaho Transportation Department, Boise, Idaho. District 4 Engineer (DE) Devin Rigby, Intermodal Planning Manager Sonna Lynn Fernandez, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Karl Vogt, Executive Assistant to the Board Sue Higgins, and a number of Cassia County officials were also present.
STC 2841, SH-77 to Almo/City of Rocks Back Country Byway, District 4. Earlier discussions focused on Cassia County maintaining the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway after the state assumes jurisdiction of the route. ITD would provide material such as sand and de-icer. Chairman Blick relayed Cassia County’s new proposal to track the maintenance hours expended on the road and use that value as credit to purchase surplus equipment from ITD.
DE Rigby said the current process to dispose of surplus equipment involves establishing a price for the equipment and then informing local officials that the surplus equipment is available for purchase. If more than one entity is interested in purchasing the equipment, essentially, the names are put into a hat and one is drawn. If no local public agency is interested in acquiring the equipment, it is sold at public auction; however, that is rare. Proceeds from these sales are deposited in the Department’s “general fund”, which is distributed to all of the Districts.
Chairman Blick said he thought an agreement on the transfer had been reached. He expressed concern, however, that the agreement was open-ended. There is no time certain for ITD to assume the maintenance responsibilities. Member Vassar believes a time certain should be incorporated into the agreement.
In response to Member Gagner’s question on the condition of the route, DE Rigby said it was recently reconstructed to state standards. Some minor improvements are needed, such as a seal coat, guardrail, and signs; however, funding is available in the Forest Highway program.
The County Commissioners provided some history on the route. They understand ITD’s financial concerns, so discussions commenced on options to facilitate the highway transaction. Because the road serves a state park, they believe it should be on the state system.
Member Gagner asked if there are similar situations in the state where a local entity receives credit towards obtaining surplus equipment. CE Cole reported that occasionally there are some unique circumstances that result in a trade similar to Cassia County’s proposal.
Chairman Blick noted that if the state were to maintain the road, it would need additional manpower. He believes Cassia County’s request for credit towards surplus equipment may be fair and may be worth pursuing.
DE Rigby said the state roads in that corridor have been given a low priority for maintenance; however, that area has been growing, particularly the commuter traffic, and the route may need a higher level of service. Although the District was able to secure an additional full time equivalent position for that area, the addition of this route to the state system would stretch resources.
Member Gagner asked if it is common for ITD to execute maintenance agreements, particularly when roads are added to the state’s system. DAG Vogt replied that maintenance agreements are common, especially with cities. He acknowledged that the proposed agreement with Cassia County is different from the norm. DE Rigby said when ITD assumed jurisdiction of a route near Mountain Home, it entered into a maintenance agreement with the respective local entity to maintain the road, similar to this situation. CE Cole added that there is a standard form for maintenance agreements, identifying which party will be responsible for what activities.
Chairman Blick mentioned that the County will lose money from the Highway Distribution Account upon transfer of the route because its total mileage will decrease. Member Gagner noted the Department’s dire financial situation. He also expressed frustration with the difficulty ITD has relinquishing mileage. He believes a fairer process needs to be established. There are a number of routes on the state system that do not function as state highways.
Chairman Blick suggested pursuing options to transfer the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway to the state, including the “credit” proposal. He requested information on the feasibility of that option, the District’s recommendation, impacts, costs, a legal opinion, and other considerations that are identified. He would also be receptive to other options. The Subcommittee concurred.
Cassia County Commissioner Dennis Crane said they would like the road to be under the state’s jurisdiction. It has been rebuilt to state standards. They are willing to negotiate and develop an acceptable agreement.
Chairman Blick said if the “credit” proposal is accepted, Cassia County would not receive preferential treatment. It would compete with other local entities to secure surplus equipment. Member Gagner added that since this is a change from the earlier agreement, the full Board will need to approve revisions to the agreement.
DE Rigby said ITD’s surplus trucks are generally valued between $20,000 and $25,000. Chairman Blick said the hourly wage that will be used towards credit will need to be determined.
County Commissioner Crane said consideration may be given to terminating the maintenance agreement at a time certain, possibly in five years.
ACTION: Cole/Vogt (Rigby) DUE: May, 2011
Coordination with Locals on State Highway System Adjustments. CE Cole said the Subcommittee has historically addressed transfers to or from the state system. The Department also constructs new alignments that add mileage to its system. Before new alignments or alternate routes are constructed, he believes the Department should negotiate with the respective local entity to assume jurisdiction of the old route, if applicable. One example is Sandpoint. The City was supportive of the Sand Creek Byway project, removing through traffic from downtown. ITD should have executed an agreement before construction started that would transfer the old route to the City. He does not believe the current policy on adjustments to the state system adequately addresses this issue. He proposed revising the policy to encourage negotiating the relinquishment of routes when the Department has leverage; prior to construction of new alignments.
Chairman Blick believes there may be some resistance from the legislature. He would like Idaho statutes to provide the Department more authority to relinquish routes that do not function as state highways. LHTAC Administrator Holmstrom does not believe negotiating with locals prior to construction should be controversial. Generally, locals are supportive of these alternate routes and, in turn, may be receptive to accepting the old route.
Chairman Blick said any changes would not affect existing projects. He also cautioned that ITD needs to work with local public agencies as partners. LHTAC Administrator Holmstrom agreed and indicated legislation may be confrontational. He is willing to visit with the local associations on this issue.
The consensus of the Subcommittee was to revise the policy to encourage negotiations with local entities to assume jurisdiction of old routes prior to the construction of alternate routes.
ACTION: Cole DUE: May, 2011
The meeting adjourned at 12:05 PM.
Respectfully submitted by:
SUE S. HIGGINS
Executive Assistant & Secretary
Idaho Transportation Board