Safety is a top concern for ITD – here are a few examples:

Idaho is home to a lot of rural roadways that present some unique safety challenges. Here are a few recent initiatives from ITD to improve public safety on those routes:

SPOTLIGHTING DANGEROUS CURVES
If you ever played a driving video game, then you’ve seen the big flashing arrows that warn you when a curve is coming up and which way to turn. You’re not very likely to run into the wall, but follow directional arrows around the curve and go for the finish line.

Big electronic flashing arrows might be effective in a fast-paced game, but would not be very efficient on some of Idaho’s rural highways.

Here’s the rest of the story

RURAL INTERSECTION CONFLICT WARNING SYSTEM
Rural highway intersections can be hazardous if drivers are not aware of upcoming stops and free-flowing traffic crossing their paths. Here’s a lower-cost system to help save lives.

Here’s the rest of the story

 

Public can vote for Idaho’s Thornton Interchange project for national honor and $10k charity prize

The Idaho Transportation Department project to rebuild the Thornton Interchange is a national finalist in the “People’s Choice” category of the America’s Transportation Awards (ATA).

Public voting is open and continuing through Sept. 21 online at www.AmericasTransportationAwards.org.

The project previously won ATA regional honors in late June. Idaho’s Thornton project was selected by the judges to move on to The People’s Choice award (and/or Grand Prize) and a shot at $10,000 in prize money. The prize money will be donated to a charity or scholarship program chosen by the winning state department of transportation. The winner will be announced Sept. 27 in Phoenix.

The awards are a joint effort of AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“This shows that the Idaho Transportation Department is being recognized as one of the best transportation departments in the country, and ultimately this excellence benefits all of Idaho’s drivers,” said ITD Eastern Idaho District Engineer Jason Minzghor.

“The Thornton project will greatly enhance safety and mobility in eastern Idaho area, and most importantly, saves lives.”

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.

Watch the video of the Thornton project below.

Despite traffic volumes more than doubling, these improvements drastically decreased serious-injury crashes and fatalities. In addition, several money-saving innovations and technological advances saved at least $450,000.

“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.

This marks the fourth Idaho project to advance to the national People’s Choice stage of the America’s Transportation Awards since 2013.

 

ITD offers back-to-school safety tips for kids, parents, and drivers

The Idaho Transportation Department is committed to safety for all members of the public — even for the smaller, younger members of our communities. Most school zones have been vacant for the past few months – but that’s all changing. Here are some back-to-school safety tips from ITD:

SCHOOL SAFETY: Return to school requires renewed safety focus

SCHOOL SAFETY: Children, drivers should follow bus-safety guidelines

SCHOOL SAFETY: Make sure vehicle is road ready before handing keys to teen drivers

SCHOOL SAFETY: School zones require reduced speeds, increased awareness

SCHOOL SAFETY: Parents should prepare children before walks to school

ITD gives final go-ahead for Northgate Interchange

Northgate Interchange Plan

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has given the final approval to begin developing the Northgate (Siphon Road) Interchange in Bannock County. The department provided the final signature on the agreement between ITD and several public and private partners during Thursday’s Idaho Transportation Board meeting in Coeur d’Alene.

The partnership consists of Millennial Development, city of Chubbuck, city of Pocatello, Bannock County, Pocatello Development Authority and ITD.

The project will connect parts of north Pocatello and Chubbuck to Interstate 15 near Siphon Road.

ITD will now begin the selection process to design the interchange, with the goal of breaking ground in the spring of 2018 and completing the project in the fall. 

“We think it will increase mobility and bring greater economic opportunity for the community,” said Board Chairman Jerry Whitehead. “This interchange presents a unique opportunity to create a public-private partnership that can serve as a model for the future.”

Please, drivers: Celebrate eclipse, don’t add impairment to the mix

Summer is winding down, but with the Great American Eclipse and Labor Day weekend just around the corner, Idaho’s summer travel season should be busy to the very end. Sadly, both events have the potential to become tragic, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others on Idaho’s roadways.

In an effort to reduce drunk driving crashes and to save lives, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement agencies across Idaho for a high-visibility mobilization.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, begins this week and runs through the Labor Day weekend holiday. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving.

“Our goal is to have zero traffic-related deaths in Idaho,” said Ken Corder from the Office of Highway Safety. “Seeing more officers on the roads during this busy time of year will serve as a reminder to drivers that we all need to do our part to keep our roads safe.”

According to NHTSA, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2015 – approximately one person died every 51 minutes as a result of drunk driving. During the mobilization, officers will have a zero-tolerance stance on drunk driving.

“Between the eclipse and Labor Day, we expect to see more people out enjoying the last few weekends of summer,” Corder said. “We want people to enjoy these events safely – if you plan to drink, use a designated driver, call a taxi, use a ride sharing app or call a friend or family member. There’s no reason to get behind the wheel if you choose to drink.”

ITD and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely.

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Idaho Highway Safety Manager, John Tomlinson. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, from the Eclipse through the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses,” he said.

Tin Cup Beaver Dam Restoration project benefits wildlife and ITD

POCATELLO – If Ruffles have ridges, what do riffles have? Beavers, it turns out.

When a few beaver dams on Tin Cup Creek in southeast Idaho started backing up water last fall at a culvert on Idaho Highway 34 and threatening to undermine the road, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) was faced with the complication of adding underwater bridge inspections for that remote site.

Instead, they added riffles — really good riffles. ITD constructed the riffles (rocky or shallow parts of a rough-water stream or river) to entice the beavers to build. That’s exactly what they did.

ITD crews first removed three beaver dams downstream of the culvert to lower the water level at the crossing. They also removed one dam just upstream of the structure, which lowered the stream channel and de-watered adjacent wetlands in a stretch of the creek.

In collaboration with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, ITD crews repaired the stream by building two in-stream rock riffles over two days in mid-July. The result was better than what Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game (IDFG) wildlife fisheries biologist Corey Lyman expected.

The photo above shows Mark Porter (ITD District 5 Maintenance Operations) operating a Track Machine while building a riffle. The photo below, taken Aug. 8, shows a beaver dam already built on the new riffles.

The work not only stabilized the channel and protected the culvert, but also permanently raised the creek bottom, which had eroded down enough to disconnect the water from the creek banks and willow-filled floodplain. Streambed work also improved habitat for fish and for all wildlife living in the area.

“Without water reaching the river banks, the streamside wetlands were drying up and dying, and we were losing the habitat,” explained D5 Sr. Environmental Planner Alissa Salmore. “We essentially re-watered the area.”

The project also allowed members of ITD’s Pocatello, Soda Springs/Wayan, and Montpelier Maintenance sheds to gain experience in stream restoration work. This added to their skill set and reinforced environmental awareness.

Plus, it has already been successful.

“The fish were moving into the dams and claiming territory as we were cleaning up and leaving the project,” said Mark Porter of District 5 Maintenance Operations.

Porter also said that beavers have already begun building over the riffles, which was exactly the intent.

Drilling to slow traffic on state highways in eastern Idaho starting Monday (Aug. 7)

RIGBY – Work zones will be necessary for routine roadbed sampling of several state highways in eastern Idaho on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. starting Monday (Aug. 7).

Beginning in the Idaho Falls area and then moving to other parts of the region, a contractor from Boise will bore holes in the roadway as close as every mile apart to determine the depth and quality of asphalt. The project is scheduled for completion Aug. 16.

Technicians will take samples of the pavement and then patch the holes left behind. Each stop takes approximately 10 minutes.

Travel will be reduced to one lane in each direction on four-lane highways and to one lane on two-lane routes, with signs or flaggers directing traffic through the work zones.

Motorists should expect brief delays.

The speed limit may be reduced along some stretches.

The project is part of certain road studies occasionally conducted by ITD to analyze pavement.

Drivers should watch for maintenance workers and equipment, and obey all traffic signs.

Construction on Idaho State Highway 55 between Caldwell and Nampa will begin Aug. 8

ID 55 Construction

BOISE – Motorists can expect daytime lane restrictions, speed reductions and intermittent detours during construction this summer and fall.

The project includes repaving Idaho 55 between Pride Lane in Caldwell and Middleton Road in Nampa and improving the intersections at Farmway Road, Lake Avenue and Midway Road.

Each intersection will be widened to include five lanes on Idaho 55 and three lanes on local roads. ITD will install a new traffic signal at Farmway and Midway roads and replace the traffic signal at Lake Avenue.

“The best way to learn about traffic restrictions is to sign up for emails from ITD,” said ITD Construction Coordinator Merrill Sharp.  “The work schedule may change based on factors such as weather and utility work. We will send regular updates about what motorists can expect each week.”

ID55 Map 08_17

Map of construction zone for Idaho 55. Work begins Aug. 8.

 

During construction, lanes on ID-55 will be restricted during the day and the speed limit will be reduced. Traffic may be detoured around each intersection for several days.

The initial weeks of construction include widening the Farmway Road and Lake Avenue intersections and paving Idaho 55 between Pride Lane and Farmway Road.

“When complete, this project is expected to bring significant safety benefits for the 10,000 motorists who travel this stretch each day,” said Sharp. “While the road is under construction, however, we are asking motorists to plan ahead and expect delays.”

Construction details also will be posted to itd.idaho.gov/d3. To sign up for updates, text IDAHO55 to 22828 or email Jennifer.Gonzalez@itd.idaho.gov

Interagency effort underway to prep for Idaho Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse Corona

As the countdown to the August 21 solar eclipse approaches, the state of Idaho is gearing up for a potentially large influx of visitors that will be descending into southern Idaho to view this natural phenomenon.

In preparation for the event, the Idaho Transportation Department is working with other state and local agencies actively preparing and organizing a statewide plan, which includes being responsive, ready to assist law enforcement and most importantly, reducing impacts to travelers before, during and after the eclipse

“We know this will be a big draw for tourism in Idaho and most of the people are going to use our roads to get there and see it,” said ITD Chief Engineer Kimbol Allen. “We want visitors to have an enjoyable time in Idaho. We want to make sure that we do everything we can do have the roads open and ready to allow traffic to get in and back out after the eclipse.”

ITD is sharing tips with travelers on our website-as well as on overhead message boards and through the media that focus on safety, preparedness and travel plans. Most importantly, ITD encourages everyone to be patient, be responsible and give yourself enough time for travel prior to and after the eclipse.

We want our resources out informing people about what’s happening and what they can expect and what they can do about it and where the can be be, safely, to enjoy the eclipse.

The Idaho Department of Commerce has also devoted a statewide website with links to local planning resources, preparedness information and eclipse materials.

Milling and paving on Idaho Highway 8 through Moscow will impact traffic, businesses for next week and a half

Laying asphalt
Map of Hwy 8 Mill and Fill
Map of Hwy 8 Mill and Fill

LEWISTON – Milling and paving on Idaho Highway 8 is expected to impact drivers and businesses during daytime hours for the next week and a half. Crews will block three of the lanes, leaving one lane open in each direction.

Intersections and driveways may be temporarily closed during the rehabilitation. The worst traffic impacts during milling are expected to occur today through Monday (Aug. 2-7).

Crews will begin milling off the top section of roadway surface around 5 a.m., with paving coming through around 10 a.m. in that same section. The work is expected to continue throughout the day and finish by that evening.

Work on this $3.55 million job, contracted to Poe Asphalt, of Clarkston, Washington, is expected to finish by late September.