More than decade later, ITD wetland of flowers, animals and grasses flourishing in tiny Genesee

D2 Wetlands

What was once a wind-blown wheat field near the small Idaho town of Genesee is now an environmental success story. A dozen years later, ITD has created a thriving, marshy wetlands area where one never existed before.

Genesee, a town of fewer than 1,000 folks, is a quiet community resting in the rolling hills and prairie that dominate Idaho’s Palouse country, midway between Moscow and Lewiston. When road construction on U.S. 95 in the spring of 2005 from the top of Lewiston Hill to Genesee required using some land designated as wetlands, ITD spearheaded a mitigation project to construct wetlands as compensation.

The project became known as “Cow Creek Wetland,” located along a half-mile of Cow Creek in Latah County next to Genesee between two county roads — Morscheck and Kreier

ITD eventually created almost 11.5 acres of wetland and riparian area to mitigate for area impacted by the highway project, at a cost of $1.5 million.

Construction started in 2005, as there were wells drilled at each corner of the area to provide water for the irrigation system and help plants get established. Excavation, irrigation system and initial plantings were completed that year. Nearly 24,000 containerized trees and shrubs were part of the mitigation plan. In addition, there were almost 35,000 plugs of wetland grasses, rushes, sedges, and more planted in 2005.

D2 Wetlands Before After
A before-and-after shot shows how this landscape has been transformed.

Then came the winter of 2005/2006, when roughly 90 percent of those wetland plugs were lost due to frost heaves. So, planners returned to the drawing board.

Spring of 2006, wetland areas were broadcast-seeded to compensate for the loss that first winter. In addition to seeding and planting, trees removed during the project were placed in the wetland as habitat snags, and in November of 2007 an additional 2,500 containerized plants were planted as warranty to replace trees and shrubs that had died.

The irrigation system, installed to provide watering as the vegetation got established, was turned off in 2008 to encourage plants to acclimate to their natural conditions.

By August of 2010, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stamped the site as completed.Many Genesee residents, who also use it for bird watching, today use the Cow Creek Wetland as a walking trail.

Most impressively, it is used as a wetland ecology classroom by the local high school.

Public comment sought on Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP)

The department is seeking public comment from July 1-30 on the draft of the Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP), and all transportation stakeholders are encouraged to participate. The draft ITIP can be viewed online.

The ITIP is a “roadmap” for planning and developing transportation projects from FY2018 to 2024, including:

–  Highways and bridges
–  Bicycle and pedestrian facilities
–  Highway safety
–  Railroad crossing safety
–  Airports
–  Public transportation
–  Transportation planning
–  Freight

The Idaho Transportation Project Map is an online, interactive map that allows users to choose specific categories of draft ITIP projects, and learn about work that is planned for any area of Idaho. The draft ITIP document lists projects by highway route and location, identifies projected years for right-of-way acquisition, preliminary engineering, construction and estimated project costs. It also lists local construction projects that are federally funded.

Public comments will help the department determine if proposed projects meet the department’s main objectives of improving safety, mobility and economic opportunity.

The ITIP relies on input from elected officials, citizens, tribal governments, other state and federal agencies, Idaho’s metropolitan planning organizations, the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, and other interested organizations.

Comments can be e-mailed to adam.rush@itd.idaho.gov or mailed to ITIP – Comments, Attn: Adam Rush, P.O. Box 7129, Boise, ID  83707-1129. Paper or CD copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting Rush at (208) 334-8119 or by e-mail at adam.rush@itd.idaho.gov.

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.

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.

Work on East Kooskia Bridge finishes early

East Kooskia Bridge

With crews working long hours and the weekend, work on the East Kooskia Bridge finished ahead of time and the bridge opened to travel Feb. 28, at least a week early. The improvements allowed ITD to boost the bridge’s load-carrying capacity from 6,000 lb. Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) to 16-20 tons GVW, depending on axles.

It’s just the latest example of ITD providing great service to our customers, the users of the transportation system.

Work on the 82-year-old bridge began Feb. 20 and finished by the end of the month. Prior to repairs, the bridge’s condition allowed only for lightweight passenger vehicles.

The 481-foot-long, steel-truss bridge is on the Idaho 13 Business Route, just off U.S. 12. It is a single-lane structure at milepost 75.2 built in 1935.