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.

Construction to begin on I-84 exit 90 ramps near Mountain Home

crews rebuild road ramp

MOUNTAIN HOME – Construction on the I-84 Business Loop outside Mountain Home continues and will move to the westbound on- and off-ramps for Interstate 84 at Exit 90.

The complete rebuild of the ramps is expected to start Monday, July 24. Crews will be working during the day so the traveling public is advised to use caution while driving in the project zone. Construction on this section is expected to last three weeks.

During this time, the westbound off-ramp will be closed to traffic. Vehicles wider than 11 feet will not be allowed on the westbound on-ramp. Detours will be in place and all traffic is advised to use Exit 95. The speed limit will also be reduced to 45 mph.

This is the next phase of a project that is rebuilding the ramps and a roughly one-mile stretch of the I-84 Business Loop (Old U.S. 30). Sunroc Corp. is the contractor for this $2.4 million project.

Note: Previously, the westbound off-ramp was planned to stay open with width and length restrictions. Plans have been revised to close the ramp altogether.

ITD performance, innovation chronicled by United Kingdom media

Dramatically improved performance benefiting the road user has raised the profile of the Idaho Transportation Department nationally, and beyond. The article linked below comes from Traffic Technology International, a media outlet from the United Kingdom:

Read Article

ITD is actually mentioned twice in the magazine — there is a second article, about Weigh-In-Motion technology, that runs from pages 38-42.

 

 

 

ITD unveils new highway signs to honor Vietnam veterans

Travelers along Interstate 84 in Idaho can now see reminders of the sacrifice made by Idaho men and women who served in Vietnam more than 40 years ago. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is installing the new road signs along I-84, which has been officially designated as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.

The new 4’ x 8’ signs will replace smaller signs placed earlier along the interstate through a partnership between ITD and veterans groups. Eight signs will be installed along I-84 between the borders with Oregon and Utah.

In 2014, the Idaho Legislature made the designation in honor of more than 44,000 Idahoans who served in the war. Two hundred and seventeen of those soldiers were killed in combat, more than 1,000 Idaho heroes were wounded, and eight are still unaccounted for and considered missing in action.

“Idaho has a great history of service to our country,” said ITD Chief Operating Officer Travis McGrath. “These new signs allow us to show our appreciation for those men and women who stood up to protect our freedom.”

Celebrating essential partnership with birds, bees and bugs


Although the third week in June is recognized as Idaho Pollinator Week, the essential partnership between birds, bugs and birds and agriculture and government agencies is celebrated year-round. ITD continually promotes awareness of pollinators and pollinator habitats.

Taking a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations, Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable services to our ecosystem provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles.

Pollinator species such as birds and insects are increasingly recognized as essential partners of farmers and ranchers in producing much of our food supply. Because Idaho is so agriculturally dependent, that partnership is especially important in the Gem State.

ITD is involved in several activities that promote pollinators/pollinator habitats, most notably the Operation Wildflower Program, where districts distribute native forbs to volunteer groups to seed along selected roadsides, rights of way, or slopes.

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.