ITD Director Brian Ness named to Transportation Research Board Executive Committee

Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness was recently named to the Executive Committee of the 2018 Transportation Research Board (TRB). The TRB is a unit of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and serves as an independent adviser to the President of the United States, the Congress, and federal and state agencies on scientific and technical transportation issues of national importance.

Ness, who has been ITD Director since 2010, serves as the chair of the Research & Innovation Committee for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and chaired AASHTO’s Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management (SCOTSEM) until August 2017. Through his leadership of SCOTSEM, Mr. Ness achieved national recognition for applying his organizational model to emergency management and security, which has helped reshape the group’s strategic plan.

Ness was President of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) in 2016. In this position, he served as a regional representative to AASHTO’s Executive Committee. In addition, he sponsors the WASHTO Highway Transport Committee. He is also the creator and sponsor of WASHTO’s Emerging Leaders Program, which he also brought to ITD.

Ness is a nationally recognized authority on organizational realignment and speaks regularly at national conferences for both the public and private sectors about how to structure a more effective and accountable state government. He leads a seminar each year on his “Nine Steps to a Results-Focused Culture” for the National Transportation Leadership Institute’s (NTLI) senior and executive-level management courses.

Ness was honored in 2012 as Leader of the Year by the Treasure Valley chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar, and named Trine University’s (formerly Tri-State University) 2014 Alumni of the Year.  He received the 2016 Navigator Award from Route Fifty. The award, in the “Agency and Department Chiefs” category, is based on his citizen-focused approach to government and transformative style. In 2013, ITD earned AASHTO’s President’s Award for Administration for its realignment efforts.

Since Ness joined the department, ITD has received nearly 100 national awards for its people, programs and projects, including the prestigious Francis B. Francois Award for Innovation.

Under his leadership, ITD began an employee-driven innovation program in 2014. Since that time, the department has implemented more than 860 innovations, saved nearly $5.2 million, created 500 customer-service improvements, and saved about 187,000 contractor and employee hours.

The department was recognized in 2016 by the Idaho Technology Council as a finalist for Innovative Company of the Year.

Ness earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tri-State University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. He is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and Idaho. Before becoming director at ITD, he worked for 30 years at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), holding a variety of positions in research, operations, aeronautics, construction, and project development.

 

 

Safety improvements near casino in north-central Idaho to be constructed this summer

Construction will begin the week of April 30 to improve safety at the west entrance to the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge on US-95 just south of Lewiston.

The west entrance to the casino will be closed for two weeks while a concrete island is installed. All traffic will be detoured to the east entrance.

“There have been multiple crashes at the casino’s entrances in recent years,” north-central Idaho engineering manager Doral Hoff said. “As we studied this area, we determined installing an island would improve safety by limiting left turns onto the highway.”

After construction, drivers exiting the casino from the west entrance will only be able to make right turns onto the highway. Drivers will still be able to turn right or left from the highway into the casino’s parking lot.

“We are excited to partner with the Nez Perce Tribe to address safety concerns in our area,” Hoff said. “We hope to continue to partner with the tribe on other safety improvements, such as an interchange for the casino.”

Reconstruction of I-90 near Mullan continues

I-90 Mullan

Construction of 1.5 miles of Interstate 90 near Mullan will start the week of April 30 and last until October.

One lane in each direction will remain open at all times during construction.

Last year crews reconstructed 4.5 miles of I-90 between Mullan and the state line. Work this year will extend to the west of that project and be completed fall 2019.

Bridge replacement in Oldtown begins next week

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin construction to replace the bridge between Oldtown, Idaho, and Newport, Washington, that spans the railroad tracks beginning the week of April 30. Completion is scheduled for fall 2019.

The existing bridge, built in 1966, has reached the end of its design life. The new bridge will feature two lanes with a center median, lights and sidewalks.

The bridge will be demolished and rebuilt one half at a time. Traffic will be reduced to one lane across the structure with signals on either end guiding motorists through the work zone. Construction will pause during the winter months and resume in the spring. During that time, both lanes will be open.

Additionally, the intersection of Fourth Street and Idaho Highway 41 near the bridge will be closed for improvements.

Throughout construction, check 511 for the latest impacts.

 

Work on I-90 Blue Creek Bay Bridges east of CDA begins Monday

Blue Creek Bay Bridge

Repair work on the westbound bridge over Blue Creek Bay on Interstate 90 is anticipated to begin Monday, April 23 and last until October. After a winter shutdown, work will begin on the eastbound bridge next spring and continue through the fall.

Work this year will focus on the deck and support structures of the westbound bridge. Traffic will shift to the eastbound bridge and be reduced to one lane in each direction.

Work on the westbound bridge deck will cease this October, but work on the support structures underneath both bridges will continue. Four lanes will be open for traffic during the winter shutdown.

Once work starts on the eastbound bridge, traffic will be reduced to one lane and shifted onto the westbound bridge.

While work is underway, those recreating on the water will be directed away from the construction zone for safety reasons.

To receive periodic updates about this and other projects in the area, send an email to Megan.Sausser@itd.idaho.gov to sign up for the CDA Traffic Impacts e-newsletter. For the most up-to-date information, check 511.idaho.gov.

Pet peeves, anonymous notes and 25 years

Sherry Mundt has a particular pet peeve. She doesn’t like trash, and she really doesn’t like seeing it next to highways.

Her 680-acre farm sits along US-95 just eight miles south of Coeur d’Alene. Situated along a major route for locals and waste management services, she has seen her fair share of waste pile up next to the road.

“I’d be driving to town or heading back home, and I’d notice trash,” Mundt said. “I’d be mentally picking it up while I drove.”

Mundt finds the litter bothersome, and she takes pride in her community. That’s why 25 years ago she became an active participant in the Adopt-A-Highway program—a branch of the Idaho Transportation Department that connects volunteers with supplies and services to reduce trash along highways.

Although Mundt tends to other sections, the one-mile stretch in front of her property is her primary focus. Twice a year she spends 30 hours removing 30-40 bags of litter from that section alone.

Robin Karsann, an Adopt-A-Highway coordinator for North Idaho, said volunteers like Mundt collect enough trash from the area to fill 20 residential garbage trucks every year.

“More than 2,000 volunteers gave nearly 5,000 hours last year,” Karsann said. “That is a significant savings and outstanding benefit to our community.”

Throughout the years, Mundt said she had her own community of cheerleaders. Motorists passing by would honk to show their support and crews with the Idaho Transportation Department would offer assistance.

Then five years ago a new form of support found its way to Mundt’s mailbox. Little notes of gratitude and gift cards signed by neighbors she had yet to meet appeared regularly after her semiannual cleaning sessions.

“I kept them because they were encouraging,” Mundt said. “I’d read them before I signed up for another couple of years. They inspired me to keep doing what I was doing.”

It was not until this last January that Mundt met those neighborhood supporters, Mike and Kathy Barnes from the Mica Flats area, at another community function.

“Turns out they would occasionally take their children out to pick up trash, too,” Mundt said. “They said they wanted their children to learn to be like me.”

Mundt, now in her early 60s, will resign from Adopt-A-Highway duties next April, but she said she does not doubt that her community will continue in her stead.

“The ongoing dedication of community members like Mundt who continue to help keep our highways clean year after year cannot be appreciated enough,” Karsann said.

For anyone who would like to adopt a stretch of highway, there are more than 100 miles still available in North Idaho. Interested volunteers may contact the Coeur d’Alene office at (208) 772-1200 or visit itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce.

Improper decision-making was common thread in Idaho’s recent aviation accidents

Idaho’s Division of Aeronautics, in its Idaho Aviation Accident Score Card, found faulty aeronautic decision-making was the common thread for most of the state’s 22 general-aviation accidents. There are numerous aviation safety teachings in the coming year to combat this trend.

Most of the accidents — 68% — occurred during the takeoff or landing phase of flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) categorized 73% of the accidents as “pilot error.” Another 9% were listed as “mechanical/maintenance” accidents. Five percent were “environmental,” another 5% were “unknown,” and 14% are still under investigation.

The report excludes scheduled commercial-airline flights and flight activity performed by the uniformed armed services.

General aviation flying in Idaho can be challenging. Statistics indicate Idaho has traditionally experienced a higher per-capita accident rate than neighboring states. In 2013, the division set a goal of reducing the state general aviation accident rate by half over a five-year period.

The goal is being accomplished through airport standard operating procedures, welcome packets for visiting pilots, fly-in safety briefings, safety seminars, and the annual safety standdown event.

View the 5-year accident bar chart.

The report analyzes aviation accident data from two years prior, in this case 2016. The data comes from the NTSB database. It takes a couple years for investigations to be completed; thus the reason for the two-year lag.

The report includes yearly comparisons and summaries, total number of general aviation accidents, fatal accidents, fatalities, pilot qualifications, and class of aircraft.

“With this data, we can identify a particular area of emphasis when planning workshops and trainings for the next year,” said Idaho Division of Aeronautics’ Jim Hinen, who leads the safety/education unit.

Here are a few of the findings:

– Aircraft accidents decreased from 28 in 2015 to 22 in 2016
– Fatalities resulting from aircraft accidents decreased from 9 in 2015 to 1 in 2016
– Fatal accidents decreased from 4 in 2015 to 1 in 2016

The mission of the Idaho Division of Aeronautics is to promote and foster aviation within the state of Idaho. The Safety/Education unit of the Division supports this mission by providing relevant, high-quality safety information, and education programs for the benefit of stakeholders.

Calendar of coming Idaho Division of Aeronautics safety events
Here are some upcoming safety events:
May 5: Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) Rusty Pilot Seminar in Boise
May 9: AOPA Collision Avoidance Seminar in Coeur d’Alene
May 16: Pilot Safety Seminar in Twin Falls (with FAA Safety Team)
May 18-19: Pilot Safety Seminar at the Idaho Aviation Expo in Idaho Falls (with FAA Safety Team)
Oct. 26: Certificated Flight Instructor Roundtable in Boise
Oct. 27: Annual Safety Standdown in Boise

The number of general-aviation accidents occurring in neighboring states from highest to lowest:
– Nevada 32
– Washington 31
– Oregon 23
Idaho 22
– Montana 18
– Utah 18
– Wyoming 10

ITD, other community partners in saving lives honored at Donate Life event

Idaho has consistently been one of the top states in the nation when it comes to saying yes to saving lives. These achievements are due in large part to hard work and collaboration. An event celebrating these partnerships and commemorating these successes was held Thursday (April 12) at the Idaho Transportation Department’s Boise office.

Watch a short video of the event

At the event Thursday, the “Yes Idaho” Donate Life Coalition honored local community partners who have been an integral part of saving lives through organ donation. ITD has been crucial in the success of donation in Idaho during the last 20 years through organ donation notifications on drivers licenses.

Many of those partners spoke or were recognized at the event, where the group also unveiled the 2018 Threads of Life Quilt. The quilt was created with individual squares made by people with a personal connection to donation. Many squares honored a loved one who made the decision to donate or to celebrate the life of a transplant recipient.

Community partners recognized included:

The Idaho Transportation Department – Thanks to ITD’s help, the registry grew by 5.2% in 2017, to 64% of the population vs. 2016 census estimate. The national average is 54%. Idaho has 800,000 drivers who chose organ donation on their Idaho licenses.

Senator Lee Heider – Senator Heider has been at advocate for donation for several years. This year, he sponsored two bills related to this topic that became law.
S1249: This legislation instructs institutions of higher education to send a link to the Yes Idaho Donor Registry to their students twice each year.
S1250: Provides for a reminder email to be sent to state employees reminding them that the state of Idaho provides 30 days paid leave for any state employee donating a kidney.

Lillie Kaster — A donor mother who honored the memory of her son by educating the public about the importance of donation. She has reached out to rodeo royalty and recruited ambassadors for donation. They carry a “Yes Idaho” flag in parades while on horseback and speak at public events, sharing the message of donation.

KTVB Channel 7 – The media partner ran a series of stories last spring and four more last fall profiling people and their families touched by organ donation.

There are almost 300 people in Idaho currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. We are very grateful to our community partners for their dedication to saving the lives of those who are waiting. For more information about organ, eye and tissue donation, please log on to the “Yes Idaho” website.