Construction to begin on I-84 exit 90 ramps near Mountain Home

crews rebuild road ramp

MOUNTAIN HOME – Construction on the I-84 Business Loop outside Mountain Home continues and will move to the westbound on- and off-ramps for Interstate 84 at Exit 90.

The complete rebuild of the ramps is expected to start Monday, July 24. Crews will be working during the day so the traveling public is advised to use caution while driving in the project zone. Construction on this section is expected to last three weeks.

During this time, the westbound off-ramp will be closed to traffic. Vehicles wider than 11 feet will not be allowed on the westbound on-ramp. Detours will be in place and all traffic is advised to use Exit 95. The speed limit will also be reduced to 45 mph.

This is the next phase of a project that is rebuilding the ramps and a roughly one-mile stretch of the I-84 Business Loop (Old U.S. 30). Sunroc Corp. is the contractor for this $2.4 million project.

Note: Previously, the westbound off-ramp was planned to stay open with width and length restrictions. Plans have been revised to close the ramp altogether.

ITD performance, innovation chronicled by United Kingdom media

Dramatically improved performance benefiting the road user has raised the profile of the Idaho Transportation Department nationally, and beyond. The article linked below comes from Traffic Technology International, a media outlet from the United Kingdom:

Read Article

ITD is actually mentioned twice in the magazine — there is a second article, about Weigh-In-Motion technology, that runs from pages 38-42.

 

 

 

ITD unveils new highway signs to honor Vietnam veterans

Travelers along Interstate 84 in Idaho can now see reminders of the sacrifice made by Idaho men and women who served in Vietnam more than 40 years ago. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is installing the new road signs along I-84, which has been officially designated as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.

The new 4’ x 8’ signs will replace smaller signs placed earlier along the interstate through a partnership between ITD and veterans groups. Eight signs will be installed along I-84 between the borders with Oregon and Utah.

In 2014, the Idaho Legislature made the designation in honor of more than 44,000 Idahoans who served in the war. Two hundred and seventeen of those soldiers were killed in combat, more than 1,000 Idaho heroes were wounded, and eight are still unaccounted for and considered missing in action.

“Idaho has a great history of service to our country,” said ITD Chief Operating Officer Travis McGrath. “These new signs allow us to show our appreciation for those men and women who stood up to protect our freedom.”

Idaho one of only two western states to win multiple regional transportation awards

BOISE – Two Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) efforts — a massive clean up of a landslide in north-central Idaho, and the final piece of an interchange construction plan in eastern Idaho that significantly cut serious crashes — won regional awards June 28 in Juneau, Alaska.

Regional winners in the America’s Transportation Awards were announced during the annual conference of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO). Idaho was one of only two western states to receive multiple awards; Colorado was the other. WASHTO is the western regional arm of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

“The America’s Transportation Awards give state DOTs recognition for providing the essential connections that keep people, goods and our economy moving forward,” said David Bernhardt, AASHTO president.

The two ITD awards are listed below:

Elk City Slide Cleanup – winner in “Operational Excellence, Small Project”

The 2016 Elk City landslide unleashed 47 million lbs. of mud, rock and debris on Idaho State Highway 14, cut off access to a remote town and threatened grocery and gas deliveries, health-care visits, emergency services, and the livelihood of those who rely on the highway for transport.

ITD employees from all over the state swarmed to the site to respond. Many employees took leave of their typical job assignments to assist in the efforts. The cleanup took about six months, and cost close to $3.5 million.

The original slide dumped material across a 500-foot-wide stretch of highway. Two months later, a second slide brought down more material and pushed what was already loose debris even closer to the highway. Combined, the slides spilled 235,000 cubic yards of debris on the road and left a boulder weighing about 2.4 million lbs. on the hillside that ITD reduced with two dynamite charges.

“The entire team of worked safely and efficiently, with the people of Elk City in mind every step of the way,” said ITD District 2 Engineering Manager Doral Hoff.

Thornton Interchange – winner in “Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Small Project”
The opening of the new Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg marked the culmination of more than a decade of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built in a 34-mile stretch of U.S. 20 between Idaho Falls and Sugar City to improve access management and traffic flow for greater highway safety and mobility.

Despite traffic volumes doubling, these improvements drastically decreased serious-injury crashes and fatalities. In addition, several money-saving innovations and technological advances shaved at least $450,000 off the final price tag for the Thornton project.

“Providing the contractor with a 3-D model for the Thornton Interchange and requiring them to use automated grade control during construction shortened the required construction time and reduced the impact to traffic through the busiest part of the summer,” said ITD District 6 Engineering Manager Wade Allen.

Gonzalez takes reins as new Idaho DMV Administrator July 2

Alberto Gonzalez, the current DMV Modernization Manager, has been selected as the new Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Administrator. His first day will be July 2.

Gonzalez takes over a division of more than 200 people. DMV operates a broad spectrum of services throughout Idaho from headquarters and county staff, as well as Ports of Entry and Motor Vehicle Investigators.

Gonzalez takes over for Alan Frew, who has been DMV Administrator since 2006 but will be retiring July 1.

“I am excited to follow Alan Frew. One of his greatest strengths was the investment in the lives of his employees, and that’s something I want to build on,” said Gonzalez. “Alan also was a champion of great customer service — another legacy we will continue and grow.”

“We had several extremely qualified internal applicants for this position – which speaks to the level of talented individuals we have at ITD,” said Chief Deputy Director Scott Stokes. “We chose Alberto because of his experience in managing operations, developing winning teams, his ability to understand policy and processes that increase customer service and productivity.”

A veteran of managing people and programs, his service includes a great balance in both the public and private sector.  He has 13 years in the private sector and 10 in public service.

Gonzalez said one of the biggest opportunities is further strengthening DMV’s relationship with the counties.

“We need to strengthen the support we provide the counties, including better communication, training, process improvements, system reliability and really build trust with the county offices,” said Gonzalez. “They’re the face of DMV, that’s the relationship we need to improve the most. We need to make it a more unified standard statewide operation – consistent across the state including headquarters.”

Gonzalez will continue to build upon the DMV reorganization that started last year. He said DMV has an opportunity to develop an even more highly skilled work force that can lend customer’s assistance and expertise across the spectrum of business.

“Much of the change that has occurred over the past year is a direct reflection of DMV employee’s ideas and innovations, and their continued engagement is essential as we move the organization forward,” Gonzalez said. “I look forward to working with the DMV employees and learning from them. We have an opportunity to truly be the model government organization that the public and other government agencies look up to, depend on and trust.”

Celebrating essential partnership with birds, bees and bugs


Although the third week in June is recognized as Idaho Pollinator Week, the essential partnership between birds, bugs and birds and agriculture and government agencies is celebrated year-round. ITD continually promotes awareness of pollinators and pollinator habitats.

Taking a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations, Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable services to our ecosystem provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles.

Pollinator species such as birds and insects are increasingly recognized as essential partners of farmers and ranchers in producing much of our food supply. Because Idaho is so agriculturally dependent, that partnership is especially important in the Gem State.

ITD is involved in several activities that promote pollinators/pollinator habitats, most notably the Operation Wildflower Program, where districts distribute native forbs to volunteer groups to seed along selected roadsides, rights of way, or slopes.

Seal coat work starts Tuesday (June 13) on section of U.S. 95

Chip Seal Coat

LEWISTON – Seal coating will be done on sections of U.S. 95 starting Tuesday (June 13) from the Little Salmon River Bridge to the south city limits of Riggins, as crews lay a top protective layer to extend the life of the underlying pavement. The work is expected to take several weeks, depending on weather.

Below is a list of the routes and locations that will be seal coated. During work, motorist should expect minor delays, and flaggers or pilot cars may be used to guide traffic.

Location
U.S. 95, Little Salmon River Bridge to Riggins South City Limits (milepost 185.4-194.6)
U.S. 95, Riggins North City Limits to Goff Bridge (milepost 196.2-197.3)
U.S. 95, Skookumchuck to White Bird Bridge (milepost 219.1-223.7)
U.S. 95, Bottom of White Bird Hill to Johnston Rd. (milepost 234-242)
U.S. 95, Westlake Road to N. Winchester Approach (milepost 273.7-279.7)
U.S. 95B, Craigmont Business Loop (milepost 271.8-273.5)
SH 14, Jct. Hwy 13 & 14 to S. Fork Clearwater Road Bridge (milepost 0-8.7)

Knife River Construction is the contractor on this $1.22 million work.

Culvert replacement on Idaho 62 in Nezperce starts Monday (June 12)

Culvert under ID-62

LEWISTON – A culvert-replacement project is slated to begin Monday (June 12) on Idaho 62 in Nezperce and wrap up by the end of the month. This is necessary to replace an aging, large arc pipe that Holes Creek flows through.

The existing arc pipe at milepost 10.5, built in 1953, will be replaced with a bottomless arc pipe.

During replacement of the culvert, the highway will be closed and drivers will detour around the area using Powerline Road. Powerline Road connects with Idaho 62 at milepost 14 and milepost 3.

Crews will work a Monday-through-Friday schedule, with a day shift starting at 7 a.m. and a night shift starting at 5 p.m. Weekend work may be necessary to ensure the project is completed on schedule.

Crea Construction Inc., of Lewiston, is the contractor on this $376,000 project.

ITD working with driver’s license provider to address DMV outages

Technical difficulties

BOISE – In recent months, county DMV locations have experienced an increased number of outages to driver’s license services. This has created prolonged delays for Idahoans.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is devoting all available technology services towards investigating the root of this problem. The department is working hand in hand with its driver’s license provider, Gemalto, in this effort.

Gemalto has sent a team of specialists to Boise to join ITD’s team to investigate and fix this issue. Through this collaboration, ITD hopes to find a solution quickly.

ITD is placing as many resources on this as possible because the delays at the county DMVs are not up to the department’s standard. One pillar of ITD’s mission is “Your Economic Opportunity” and delaying the regular business of the traveling public does not fulfill that goal.

The department thanks the public and our county partners for showing patience while this issue is resolved.

ITD gearing up for eclipse chasers

Preparations at ITD Headquarters and in the districts are well underway for the 2017 total solar eclipse.

Officials throughout the department are planning for the event, coordinating with state and local governments and other community leaders on preparations.

ITD wants to make viewing of the solar eclipse in Idaho a safe and enjoyable experience for residents and visitors alike by keeping highways open and traffic flowing.

In case you haven’t heard, the eclipse is a big deal. The moon will fully obscure the sun for more than two minutes, completely shadowing a narrow band of the lower 48 for the first time since 1979.

Southern Idaho lies in the center of that band, which is referred to as the “Path of Totality.” The moon’s umbra shadow will pass over the countryside through this band.

ITD is developing an incident-response plan, identifying locations that may become bottlenecks, and developing traffic-control plans. Officials tentatively anticipate they may suspend highway construction Friday through Wednesday.

Make your plans – and support ITD in making its preparations. The agency aims to provide the level of service expected of the best transportation department in the country.

To catch the excitement of this major celestial event, see the projected path of the shadow as it passes over Idaho https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4515.

The state’s typically sunny August weather means there is a good chance there will be few, if any, clouds in the sky when the eclipse occurs.

The point isn’t lost on eclipse chasers, who have booked up motels, campgrounds and even homes in the region to view the “totality.”

They also like the fact that Idaho is situated at a high altitude, closer to the sky than many parts of the country. Estimates are for tens and even hundreds of thousands of people to descend on Idaho — some projections put the migration at more than one million.

The event begins in the late morning of August. 21 in Weiser and ends in the early afternoon in Driggs. Other towns in the center of the path are Mackay, Mud Lake, Rigby, Rexburg and Victor. Area residents should buckle up.

If you unavailable, uninterested or have other plans August 21 and intend to catch the next total solar eclipse in Idaho, prepare to wait for 152 years.