Transportation Board Approves Northgate Engineering Funding

Northgate Interchange Plan

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Board agreed to fund the remainder of the cost to finish to design the Northgate (Siphon Road) Interchange in southeast Idaho. The board unanimously passed a resolution to fund the engineering and design costs of approximately $1.5 million for the project.

The project would connect parts of north Pocatello and Chubbuck to Interstate 15 near Siphon Road. ITD is currently working with the cities of Chubbuck and Pocatello, Bannock County, the Pocatello Development Authority and Millennial Development to fund construction of this interchange.

By authorizing the completion of the engineering and design, the project would be ready for construction when a resolution for funding the project along with the right of way acquisition are complete.

“This interchange presents a unique opportunity to work closely with the private sector and other local agencies,” said Board Chairman Jerry Whitehead in a previous news release. “We understand why local residents are excited about this project. We think it will increase mobility and bring greater economic opportunity for the community.”

Last June, the Board passed a resolution authorizing the construction of an $8.4 million interchange at the location. After an engineering study, it was determined it would cost a total of $12.5 million to build an interchange sufficient to meet existing and future needs in the area. ITD is working with local agencies to determine the best way to fund the project increase.

Paving awards are big win for north Idaho projects and drivers

COEUR D’ALENE – Three north Idaho projects received recognition from the National Asphalt and Paving Association just before Christmas for high-quality paving, signifying a big win for the Idaho Transportation Department, the contractor (Poe Asphalt and Paving), and most importantly, the region’s drivers.

Paving for the second stage of US-95 near Sheep Creek, US-95 near Cougar Creek, and (pictured above) Sherman Avenue to Blue Creek Bay Bridge on Interstate 90 earned Quality in Construction awards.

“Our project managers and materials engineers work with contractors to ensure that the public receives a high-quality product,” said Marvin Fenn, an ITD engineering manager in north Idaho.

Awards were based on asphalt samples submitted to the National Center for Asphalt Technology in Alabama and reviewed for deviations and for consistency.

“Collaborating with ITD engineers is always a positive experience,” said Brian Poe, a project manager for Poe Asphalt and Paving in Post Falls. “It is great to work with a team that wants to deliver the best projects for the traveling public.”

ITD seeking dynamic communicator for eastern Idaho

The Idaho Transportation Department is looking for a Public Information Specialist to work in eastern Idaho and join the department’s Office of Communication in telling the story of one of the best transportation departments in the country.

If you are interested in working for an award-winning, dynamic, professional state agency, with a constructive culture focused on outstanding customer service and continuous employee improvement, this may be for you!

Top job candidates will have an opportunity to help make Idaho’s roads safer, increase mobility and promote economic opportunity, using skills in media relations, writing and collaboration.

Candidates must have strong writing skills, experience interacting with news media, an understanding of how to use social media effectively and the ability to collaborate with others to develop successful outreach campaigns and facilitate public hearings, meetings and events. The preferred candidate should also have a basic knowledge of photography, publication design, marketing, government relations experience and an understanding of how to write for print and broadcast mediums.

For more information or to apply, here’s a link to the job posting. The deadline for applications is Jan. 27.

$500k available from Idaho ADA curb ramp program in $60k grants

 

Individual grants of up to $60,000 are available to Idaho organizations statewide through a competitive application process ending March 2 for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Curb Ramp Program. In total, the Idaho Transportation Department will allocate $500,000 of state funds for this program.

Local jurisdictions (cities, counties and highway districts) and tribal governments are eligible to apply. Applications are available on the Idaho Transportation Department website at http://itd.idaho.gov/alt-programs/, under the ADA Curb Ramp Program tab on the left-hand side of the page.

The goal of the program is to partner with local agencies to provide accessible facilities for all pedestrians, especially those with disabilities.

Those applying in 2018 should be prepared to begin construction in May 2019.  Project construction must be completed within two years of the execution of the Cooperative Agreement.

The Idaho ADA Curb Ramp Program is a state-administered program providing funding for projects to build or correct curb ramps on the state highway system.

Applications are evaluated by ITD, the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council and the Idaho Division of the Federal Highway Administration.

Completed applications should be sent to ITDAltContracting@itd.idaho.gov

Top 2017 innovations feature safety, cost savings and more

The Idaho Transportation Department’s ongoing innovation initiative, now in its fourth year, has already shown some impressive results. The program has so far saved Idaho taxpayers $5.1 million in efficiencies that are applied directly back into maintenance and repair of the state’s roads and bridges. Along the way, the innovations have improved customer service, enhanced mobility, and directly impacted safety for highway workers and the traveling public.

ITD’s emphasis on innovation features a statewide employee-driven effort with a premium on finding safer, easier and less expensive solutions. The 2017 Best of the Best competition spotlights innovations in each of seven categories central to the department’s main goals: safety, mobility, economic opportunity, customer service, employee development, time savings and cost savings.

“It is so exciting to celebrate every employee’s efforts to make things just a little bit safer or better in some way,” said ITD Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur. “Recognizing the spirit of innovation in every employee is what Innovate ITD! is about.

Since the program began in 2014, ITD has:

• Received 1,120 ideas from employees
• Implemented 760 innovations
• Generated savings and efficiency improvements of $5.1 million*
• Realized 170,000 contractor and employee hours saved
• Created 420 customer-service improvements.

* The savings in time and money are being used to maintain roads and bridges and provide better customer service.

Here are the seven category winners in ITD’s Best of the Best 2017 – Watch the Best of the Best video:

SAFETY
For the safety category, ITD’s south-central Idaho office began by improving the nighttime visibility of delineator posts. Safety can be dicey on Idaho’s many rural roads.

On tight turns, you might see a series of yellow signs with black chevrons warning drivers, or a row of standard markers or reflectors showing a hazard ahead. In some locations, that’s not always enough.

D4’s James Bennett created a low-cost option to assist drivers in recognizing the change in direction of travel. A series of these posts can be installed within a couple hours.

Watch curve delineation video

CUSTOMER SERVICE
In the Customer Service category, the winning idea uses 3D renderings to drive better public understanding.

ITD is using new technology to help the public and stakeholders better grasp complex bridge replacements, visualize what ITD is trying to accomplish, and understand how the new bridges will fit into the town’s aesthetics or existing environment.

By using 3D bridge renderings and animations, ITD is better able to communicate project complexities and alleviate frustrations. This has been very popular and proven extremely beneficial on several high-profile projects where the 3D renderings and animations were fundamental to understanding project goals and outcomes.

Having a 3D visual makes it come to life for people, and helps reduce controversy by clearing up misunderstandings.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
The winner is an idea to provide alternatives to load-posting bridges.

An innovation developed by ITD Bridge Asset Management provides local bridge owners with options when faced with deterioration, so a particular bridge can remain open and unrestricted to legal vehicle loads, rather than simply giving load-posting requirements.

The goal is to keep local bridges open and unrestricted to vehicle traffic, which supports ITD’s mission. It improves the lives of Idaho citizens by safely ensuring mobility is uninterrupted and business can transport goods and services in less time.

COST SAVINGS
Mechanic Brandon Thurber and colleagues in ITD’s D6 shop lamented that aluminum valves, floor plates, and mounting covers on truck frames were replaced twice a year because of salt corrosion. So, they began investigating ways to preserve shed trucks.

One day they discovered that spraying the components with varnish preserved the metal, reducing corrosion and replacement costs.

Total annual replacement cost for the rusted-out components was about $48,000 — $800 for each of the district’s 60 trucks. By using the varnish, that cost can be cut by $40,000 per year.

MOBILITY
In this category, the 2017 winner was magnetic.

A simple idea out of the south-central Idaho office could help prevent flat tires with a giant magnetic sweeper bar mounted to a patrol vehicle. Best of all, the innovation will help both the general driving public AND department employees.

D.J. Price of D4 got the idea when looking at the punctured casings of several blown tires about 100 yards away from a mess of nails on the road.

ITD trucks were a logical choice – they are already out on the road.

TIME SAVINGS
The 2017 winner is an innovation to streamline purchases.

Step into the typical ITD shed and you’ll find hundreds of tools, parts, and pieces of equipment. Staying on top of that list can be a logistical nightmare.

So, an ITD team worked on solutions to streamline the process. They created standardized digital forms with some auto-fill fields and drop-down menus to speed up the process. They also found it made sense to open up the approval process. Only orders more than $10,000 need to be approved by a supervisor.

With a new protocol in place and vending machines for supplies getting installed across the state, the solution is on track to save thousands of labor hours.

EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT
This year’s winner provides a career-development path for ITD maintenance workers.

Already seeing an influx of new Transportation Techs and anticipating even more in coming years, ITD’s eastern Idaho office developed a “TTO Boot Camp” to get new employees trained on the basic elements of the maintenance program and acclimated to a career at ITD. Having consistent training across each regional foreman area also gave these newcomers a kick start to their development and effectiveness. To ease the on-boarding process, the department also paired a mentor with the new employees.

ITD is providing a higher level of service to employees, and those skills can then be applied to service to the public on roadways.

Those are ITD’s 2017 Best of the Best winners, showcasing how innovative thinking can improve products and services and make the most of taxpayer funds.

ITD’s southeast Idaho office partners to put US-89 on Road Diet, solve speeding issue 

When city and state partner on a project, great things usually result. Such was the case recently in the small town of Paris, Idaho, where US-89 is a state highway and also serves as the small southeastern Idaho town’s main street.

Because Highway 89 is on the State Highway System, ITD has responsibility for the highway. City leaders brought a local safety concern to ITD regarding speeders, and the groups collaborated to solve the issue.

Mayor Brent Lewis contacted the ITD District 5 Traffic section Sept. 25 about converting the four-lane section to a three-lane section, with parking and bike lanes, to help get a handle on vehicles speeding through town. Lewis described people jockeying for position in the four-lane section and this behavior was leading to frequent speeding. Because ITD had just chip sealed and fog coated US-89, it was an opportune time.

ITD quickly researched the roadway width, contacted the contractor on the chip sealing and authorized changes in striping quantities (from 8,000 Lineal Feet to about 30,000) to make it happen. District 5 Traffic Engineer Corey Krantz (pictured left) decided to employ a “Road Diet” to solve the issue. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines the Road Diet concept as the practice of removing travel lanes from a roadway and using the space for other uses and travel modes.

The most common Road Diet is to convert an undivided four-lane roadway to a three-lane undivided roadway made up of two through lanes and a center two-way, left-turn lane. The reduction of lanes allows the roadway section to be reallocated for other uses such as bike lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, transit uses, or parking.

According to FHWA, before-and-after studies suggest a traffic-calming effect that results in a 4-5 mph reduction in the 85th percentile free-flow speed, a 25% reduction in travel speed, and a 30% reduction in the percentage of vehicles traveling more than 5 mph over the speed limit. In addition, lane-elimination projects generally reduce the severity of crashes.

The data shows that these three-lane roadways are effective for traffic volumes up to 20,000 vehicles per day. The traffic volume for the town of Paris is right around 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles per day on a busy summer weekend.

Striping was moved up in the schedule to accommodate the change.

Brad Stevens, a TTO in Montpelier Maintenance, assisted Krantz in laying out the new striping pattern, which took most of one morning to mark out.

“Brad and I got the various lanes widths laid out within the curb and gutter sections,” explained Krantz. “It resulted in fewer conflict points, which increased safety.”

The road was re-striped to accommodate 11-foot travel lanes, 6-foot bike lanes, and 8.5-foot parking slots, with 150-foot transitions at the ends. The Road Diet provides other roadway features that are more conducive to the general public, like bike lanes and possible changes in parking.

Mayor Lewis is happy with the results. “It looks great, and I’ve heard many positive comments from citizens. Most of the year-round residents really like it. Our City Council liked it. Mayors from other towns have said they view it as a safety improvement. I have talked to all law enforcement officers and asked for their comments, and what they observe with regard to the change.”

“It has definitely helped from a safety standpoint,” said Idaho State Police officer Chris Clausing (pictured below), a resident of Paris. Clausing, a father of four who has patrolled Paris for the past two years, has seen egregious speeding first-hand.

“I’ve stopped people for going 60 mph and 70 mph through town, and ISP deputies have caught someone doing 80 mph before. The speed limit is 35 mph transitioning to 25 mph, so that is more than excessive in my opinion.”

“Speeds have definitely dropped, and the biggest benefit is safety for the kids. There’s more of a buffer now between them and the highway lanes. Before, if the kids were playing ball and a ball made it out of the front yard, they were right in the middle of the road, because the highway and sidewalk were right next to each other.”

These Road Diets have been used with great success in other Idaho cities such as Victor, Idaho Falls, Rigby, and Malad. Besides Paris, District 5 has been promoting this for the city of Preston for a couple of years, and after many discussions and meetings with the city and the public, the Preston City Council voted unanimously on October 23 to approve a Road Diet through Preston on US-91.

The changes will occur when the highway is seal coated next summer.

 

 

ITD Office of Highway Safety launches SHIFT Idaho engaged-driving campaign

Whether it’s a drive around the block or a trip across the state, there is no shortage of distractions to take your mind off the road. To help Idahoans stay focused on the drive, ITD’s Office of Highway Safety is launching a new engaged-driving program called SHIFT.

The idea behind engaged driving is to create an opportunity for Idahoans to start thinking and talking about what’s appropriate behind the wheel and in the passenger’s seat. SHIFT is a program designed to help share techniques and strategies to reduce distractions and grow driver engagement.

“A distraction is anything that takes your mind away from the road,” said Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson. “There are obvious distractions and others we may not even recognize – but we all know what it means to be engaged and we really want to highlight those behaviors.”

This approach is based on the concept of Positive Culture Framework, a system that promotes health and safety by building on shared values, beliefs and attitudes.

“Most people in Idaho are doing the right thing,” said Tomlinson. “SHIFT is our opportunity to grow those good behaviors and make our roads safer.”

Unlike traditional highway safety campaigns, SHIFT combines efforts to reach drivers directly through different media with workplace engagement. A pilot program is currently underway to develop a toolkit to help teach employers how to talk to their employees about engaged driving. The pilot sites will test different tools and review workplace distracted driving policies to see what can be done to impact driver behavior.

“We feel the right combination of policy, education and reinforcement at the workplace can help us move the needle,” Tomlinson said. “We really believe this layered approach will help us create safer roads and a safer Idaho.”
To learn more about the program, visit shift-idaho.org