Plan ahead and slow down if you’re hitting the road this Thanksgiving

With the Thanksgiving holiday and the potential for winter weather moving through Idaho later this week, the Idaho Transportation Department wants to remind citizens to slow down and pay attention before heading out.

ITD encourages everyone to check 511.idaho.gov before their journey. Whether by desktop or the free app, this tool offers updated road conditions 24 hours a day.

Additionally, ITD offers many more resources on staying safe during your holiday trip, or anytime you hit the road. For a full list of what items motorists should have in their vehicles, as well as details on how ITD crews keep highways clear of ice and snow, visit our website at https://itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce/

From everyone at ITD, have a safe and memorable Thanksgiving.

 

 

ITD offers holiday safe-driving tips

BOISE—Thanksgiving is a time for food, family, friends, and for many of us, travel. It’s also one of the deadliest times of year on our roadways because of drunk and impaired drivers.

That’s why this Thanksgiving weekend, the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) Office of Highway Safety is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind everyone: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive Sober During Thanksgiving.

“We know that for many folks, holiday celebrations involve some adult beverages,” said Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson. “It’s okay for adults to choose to have a drink with their Thanksgiving dinner. What’s not okay is getting behind the wheel after drinking.”

Drunk-driving-related crashes spike during the Thanksgiving holiday season. According to NHTSA, from 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday), making it the deadliest holiday on our roadways.

In fact, during 2017, more than one out of every three traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving Holiday period involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

Excessive drinking is prevalent over Thanksgiving due in part to cultural phenomenons like “Blackout Wednesday,” that highlights and even encourages the heavy consumption of alcohol throughout the holiday weekend.

“It’s a combination of a couple different things,” said Tomlinson. “We see a lot of young adults coming home for the holiday who choose to catch up with friends at a bar. There are also people who plan to cook all day Thursday who choose to go out for dinner and drinks on Wednesday.”

Tomlinson offered the following tips to stay safe on the road:

  • Plan a way to safely get home before the festivities begin.
  • If you are impaired, take a taxi, use a ride share, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
  • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which helps you identify a sober ride home and your location for pick up.
  • Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to where they are going.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.

 

 

 

 

Overnight ramp closures scheduled at Franklin, Northside interchanges in Nampa next week

I-84 Northside Ramp Closure

The westbound on-ramps at the Franklin and Northside interchanges will be closed on several occasions next week while the Idaho Transportation Department rebuilds the interstate shoulders near the ramp.

The westbound I-84 on-ramp at Franklin Boulevard will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 5 and Tuesday, Nov. 6. Motorists can use the ramps at the Garrity and Northside interchanges during the overnight closures.

The westbound on-ramp closure at Northside Boulevard will occur from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. Motorists will be directed to use the ramps at the Franklin and Karcher interchanges during the overnight closure.

ITD is widening the I-84 shoulders between the Karcher Road and Franklin Boulevard interchanges this fall in preparation for major construction next spring. Download the project fact sheet for details.

“By moving swiftly to prepare the shoulders this fall, we will be positioned to start the expansion work next year,” said ITD Program Manager Amy Schroeder. “This is the first step of the $330 million investment in I-84 in Canyon County over the next several years. The expansion is a statewide priority to improve safety, mobility and economic opportunity.”

To request email updates about construction activities, text 84CORRIDOR to 22828. For more information on the I-84 expansion project, visit itdprojects.org/i-84-karcher-to-franklin.

Rules of the Road: Temporary Signs

Temporary signs

Idaho Highways are some of the heaviest-populated areas of the state, making them great places to reach people with messages. But, improper placement of signs or banners can compromise the safety of the road and its users. Here are some things to remember when it comes to placing signs along the highway.

The #1 best practice is to place signs outside the right-of-way (ROW). ITD’s ROW is the land beneath and beside the pavement that is needed for the highway to function well and safely. For most of our roads, the ROW includes shoulders and low drainage areas. Posting signs in this area can negatively impact safety as they can block required sight distances, create distractions and hinder maintenance activities; such as mowing and litter pick-up.

This also applies to posting signs on fences along the highway or bridges over the highway. Generally, those fences mark the edge of ITD’s ROW and posting signs in these places poses similar concerns as stated above.

There are a couple of features you can look for to help guide proper placement of your signs. If there’s a fence running along the highway, you probably shouldn’t place signs anywhere between the fence and highway. If you don’t see a fence, but see power poles along the highway, those are generally placed just inside the ROW. So, you can use power poles as a general marker and not post signs between them and the highway.

Protecting these areas is codified in Idaho law. You can read more in §18-7029 and §40-1910, Idaho Code.

It probably goes without saying, but before placing signs on private property, be sure to ask the property owner if it’s okay.

ITD’s maintenance crews have limited resources to address illegally placed signs or posters. However, when ITD maintenance crews are working in the general area, they will remove signs that pose a visual obstruction, create a safety hazard or generate complaints.

The most popular time for temporary signs is before an election. Besides placing your signs in the proper location, the next best thing you can do is collect your signs after the polls close. We’d prefer not to send out our crews to collect signs, but if they remain posted we will grab them for you. We’ll hold them for 10 days after an election, so you can collect them.

Help us keep our highways safe and follow these simple guidelines when posting temporary signs. Questions? Call ITD at (208) 334-8000 and we can help with any specifics.

Interstate 84 expansion project in Nampa begins Sept. 26

The outside shoulders of I-84 will receive temporary widening to accommodate traffic during future construction.

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin reconstructing and widening the shoulders of I-84 between the Karcher and Franklin Boulevard interchanges on Wednesday, Sept. 26. This is the first step of widening I-84 through Nampa.

All traffic lanes will remain open between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. as crews will work primarily at night.  Speeds will be reduced to 55 mph during the day and night. Traffic will be down to one lane in each direction during construction times. The work will continue until mid-November.

The newly reconstructed shoulders will be used to keep two lanes of traffic flowing in each direction when I-84 is widened to three lanes between Karcher Road and Franklin Boulevard starting next spring.

In 2019 and 2020, ITD will replace the Karcher Overpass, redesign and reconstruct the Northside Interchange, and rebuild the bridges over the railroad and Mason Creek. Improvements are expected to improve safety, capacity and traffic flow in Canyon County for many years.

A separate environmental study is underway to identify needed improvements between the city of Caldwell and the Karcher Interchange.

For more information on the I-84 expansion project, please visit itdprojects.org/i-84-karcher-to-franklin or text 84CORRIDOR to 22828.

Child Passenger Safety Week reminds us to keep young ones safe

Keeping children safe on the road means making sure they are buckled up in the right seat at the right age. That’s the message for next week’s National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 23-29).

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is partnering with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind parents to properly secure their children in the right proper restraint any time they get in a car.

“Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts are often used incorrectly,” said Sherry Jenkins, with ITD’s Office of Highway Safety. “No parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to his or her child’s safety. “

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children ages 1 to 13. She added that using age- and size-appropriate child restraints are the best way to reduce these deaths.

“In 2016, 3 of 4 child passengers under 7 years old killed in Idaho car crashes weren’t in car seats, booster seats, or wearing seat belts,” she said. “Those kids would have had a better chance of surviving had they been buckled up.”

“When children under 7 years old grow out of car seats, their greatest risk is not being placed in booster seats,” Jenkins added.  “Booster seats can save lives and are as important as any of the other restraints.”

From 2012 to 2016, 22 children under age 7 were killed in Idaho passenger vehicle crashes. Of those, 13 were unrestrained.

Child Passenger Safety Week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers about the importance of correctly installing and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. Parents also will be reminded of the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer so they can be notified in the event of a recall.

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. After outgrowing the car seats, children should be placed in booster seats until they are big enough to fit seat belts properly without help from a booster seat.

NHTSA and ITD recommend keeping children in the back seat until at least age 13.  It’s the safest place for kids to ride.

To help parents and caregivers in Idaho select the right car seats for their children, certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will hold free car seat-check events around the state.

“These are events where parents can come out and know for sure that their kids are as safe as possible when riding in a car,” Jenkins said. “If you have questions at all about your car seats please attend one of these events.”

National Child Passenger Safety Week Events:
Friday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Nell J Redfield Memorial Hospital, Malad, (208) 766-5368
Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at St. Luke’s Children, Nampa, (208) 381-3033
Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., at Meridian Fire Dept, Station One, Meridian,
(208) 888-1234
Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Walmart Supercenter, 2470 Pullman Road, Moscow,
(503) 523-6902

That’s why the car seat-check events are scheduled during National Child Passenger Safety Week and the month of September. Parents can come out and know for sure that their kids are as safe as possible when riding in a car.”

Wildfires & drones don’t mix

Check out this short video from Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter about not flying drones near wildfires to avoid interference with the firefighting efforts underway. The public service announcement comes after it was widely reported that drones had interfered with, and hampered, wildfire-fighting efforts this past weekend.

ITD joins fight against human trafficking

Idaho has a network of businesses, organizations, nonprofits, churches, and individuals who want a safe place to work, raise their kids, and have fun. Unfortunately, there is a darker aside that also finds Idaho appealing.

Sex trafficking buyers and sellers also find Idaho to be a great place to conduct business.

The Idaho Anti-Trafficking group is actively fighting it. And over the next few days, we’re hoping you’ll join in the fight, too.

“We must come together as a community and take a stand against this horrific business,” said Kevin Zielinski of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

Traffickers rely on our highways and interstates to conduct their nefarious business, so ITD takes the responsibility very seriously to combat these influences.

Idaho has always been known as a great place to live, with beautiful sites, parks, rivers, recreation, schools, and neighborhoods. Yet our children, youth, and adults fall prey to human trafficking right here in our backyards.

Let’s get back to watching out for friends and neighbors and make a clear statement that #idahofightsHT

For more information, please visit the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition website

 

ITD and Idaho State Police lower speed limit in south-central Idaho on stretch of I-84 in construction zone

The Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho State Police will lower the speed limit to 65 mph July 14th in a stretch of Interstate 84 within an active construction zone east of Twin Falls. The reduction is being made to maximize the safety of drivers traveling through the area.

ITD south-central Idaho Traffic Engineer Bruce Christensen stated “speeds are an important factor in any traffic control plan, but motorists putting away distractions and paying attention to the roadway is paramount in keeping our roadways safe.”

“The posted speed limit is a maximum during ideal conditions — it is not meant to replace a driver’s good judgment,” he added.

Work zone speed limits are determined in accordance with federal guidelines set by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Additional factors taken into account when determining speed limits are physical barriers like sight restrictions or curve radiuses, and observed traffic flow.

Lieutenant Robert Rausch, a Deputy District Commander with ISP, said “we are seeing problems related to impatience and inattentiveness when drivers enter a work zone. Motorists are often time driving too aggressively for the area and not affording themselves enough space to safely react to changes in traffic flow.”

“There are a lot of moving parts in a work zone and that’s why drivers need to do everything they can to stay engaged,” said Ken Corder from the Office of Highway Safety. “There are new traffic patterns, heavy machines, and workers in these areas trying to improve our roads—we can do our part to slow down and put away the distractions.”

“The goal of every traffic-control plan is to ensure that traffic flows safely and efficiently regardless of how many vehicles are on the road or the type of vehicle,” said ITD District Engineer Devin Rigby. “If speeds are continually fluctuating, or if traffic comes to a standstill on the interstate, the safety concerns mount.”

Drivers also have an important role to play. The most common contributing factors in Idaho crashes are aggressive driving, distracted driving, and impaired driving — all of which are human-caused. In fact, about 94% of serious-injury crashes are caused by human error.

The time between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are often referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days” because it’s a time of year when deadly crashes tend to spike. As the timeframe indicates, we are currently in the middle of this unfortunate period. According to preliminary reports, there have been at least 40 reported fatalities on Idaho roads since the 2018 Memorial Day weekend began.

“One thing I like to stress during these summer months is for drivers to plan ahead and be prepared,” said Lieutenant Rausch. “Be prepared for the unfortunate event of your vehicle breaking down, plan ahead to ensure you always have a sober driver, and make sure you are never driving drowsy or distracted.”

Construction will begin on Idaho 55 next week (July 16) near McCall

Idaho 55 Zachary to Goose Creek Map

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin a project next week (July 16) to resurface Idaho Highway 55 between New Meadows and McCall and construct a new retaining wall east of Brundage. The project will improve driving conditions and safety on this heavily traveled route.

From July to late August, crews will work between Zachary Road in McCall and Goose Lake Road near Brundage. View the postcard for details.

In order to keep traffic moving during the busy summer season, crews will work from 12 a.m. Monday to 12 p.m. Friday. All lanes will be open on weekends.

During the week, ID-55 will be reduced to one lane both day and night with a pilot car directing traffic. The speed limit will be reduced and 12-foot width restrictions will be in place.

“This will be a tight construction zone and we are asking for drivers’ patience during the work week. Please slow down in the work zone and pay close attention to signage, as crews will be working close to traffic,” said ITD Project Manager Jim Hoffecker.

Construction will move to the area between Goose Lake Road and Goose Creek Grade in late August. The project is expected to be completed this fall.