New landslide database provides tool for project development and hazard mitigation

The Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) is helping the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) learn more from landslides in the Gem State. A new statewide inventory database of landslide and rock fall hazards released by IGS in late June will assist ITD, emergency managers, and planners with forecasting and hazard mitigation by identifying problematic hot spots.

The project was sponsored by ITD’s Division of Highways – Construction and Materials team and funded through ITD’s Research Program.

The inventory contains more than 2,400 landslide entries spanning from prehistoric to active events. It’s posted on the IGS website and can be accessed through an interactive webmap service.

The information was also added to ITD’s IPLAN online ArcGIS platform. The database includes attributes to maintain MSE retaining wall locations and risk factors to evaluate the condition of the wall, as well as attributes for rock fall risk, so ITD districts can assess the problematic areas that could cause road closures.

Data were compiled from historic archives, information provided by ITD geotechnical staff and district geologists, unpublished IGS field observations, analysis of LiDAR imagery, remote sensing, satellite images, and newly mapped landslides.

“The study represents a live catalog of mass movements across the state with a particular focus on transportation corridors and urban areas,” said State Geologist and IGS Director Claudio Berti. “The database is a tool for documenting and assessing slope stability hazards. It is not intended to predict future events, but to document known events and show broad patterns of occurrence.”

This new database replaces the last inventory published in 1991, a static map no longer suitable for modern digital analyses. The 2021 version will be kept up to date as new events occur or new information becomes available.

Landslide problem areas in Idaho include: Bonners Ferry, Clearwater River Basin, Horseshoe Bend, Boise Foothills, Hagerman, U.S. 95 between Pollock and Lucile, and U.S. 26 between Swan Valley and the Wyoming border. Geologic characteristics of the bedrock, fractures, systems, precipitation, regional hydrogeology, vegetation, wildfires, and steepness of hillslopes are all contributing factors in landslide initiation and development.

You can also learn more by reading the full research report linked here.

Heat stresses highways in Latah County

A broomer follows a truck putting down sand

After an early heat wave in June and this last week of extreme heat, Idaho Highways 8 and 9 in Latah County are showing stress.

“Oil is flushing up to the surface of both highways, which can make for slick surfaces,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We want drivers to show more caution and know that we will continue to use fine sand to blot the moisture and keep the highways safe.”

Sections showing stress include ID-8 near Elk River and ID-9 near the ID-8 junction outside of Deary. Segments of these highways with curves, inclines or intersections where there is also heavy or turning traffic are more likely to be affected.

Over the last week, crews have also removed material to provide a better surface on select sections of ID-9 that received a sealcoat in 2020. Another project will be programmed in the coming years to rehabilitate the driving surface.

Idaho Transportation Department now taking comments for all upcoming projects

Cars cross Lake Pend Oreille on the Long Bridge

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is asking for input on the just-released draft Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP). The 2022-2028 ITIP is a seven-year master plan of the state’s transportation improvement projects. Everyone is encouraged to participate starting in July.

Projects can range from large-scale interstate improvements to smaller projects like the installation of a new guardrail. In all, the draft ITIP includes projects in all 44 counties and all modes of transportation. Projects were selected based on technical data, as well as input from local officials and residents.

A complete breakdown of the draft plan can be found at itd.idaho.gov/funding, as well as an interactive map that allows users to learn about projects by narrowing it down to specific categories and locations.

A few of the major projects throughout Idaho are:

  • Bridge replacement and adding a travel lane on west bound I-86 in Pocatello.
  • Interchange improvements to the I-15 Exit 113 interchange in Idaho Falls including constructing roundabouts.
  • Full road reconstruction on ID-33 from the US-20/ID-33 interchange to Newdale.
  • Replacement of the structure at the I-84/ID-50 Junction (Exit 182).
  • Replacement of Yankee Fork Bridge on ID-75 in Custer County.
  • Widening ID-44 from Star Road to Linder Road.
  • Extending ID-16 from US-20/26 to I-84.
  • Redesign of the interchange at I-90 and ID-41, with construction planned to start in 2023.
  • Study to begin this fall to examine potential expansion of US-95 to four lanes from Moscow to north of the Mineral Mountain Rest Area.

Comments will be taken from July 1-31 and can be e-mailed to ITDcommunication@itd.idaho.gov or mailed to:

ITIP – Comments
Attn: Office of Communication
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707

Paper copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting the Idaho Transportation Department (208) 334-8119.

All comments will be reviewed, incorporated into the ITIP where appropriate, and responses will be sent in September once the comment period has ended.

After approval by the Idaho Transportation Board in September, the ITIP will then be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency in October.

 

 

ITD’s Freight Program seeks representatives to help shape freight’s future

Help shape Idaho’s freight future! The Idaho Transportation Department is seeking representatives to serve on the Freight Advisory Committee. The group is made of six members, one representing each of ITD’s administrative districts.

  • The individual selected for District 1 will represent Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, and Shoshone counties
  • The individual selected for District 2 will represent Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, and Nez Perce counties
  • The individual selected for District 3 will represent Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Washington, and Valley counties
  • The individual selected for District 4 will Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Twin Falls counties
  • The individual selected for District 5 will represent Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida, and Power counties
  • The individual selected for District 6 will represent Bonneville, Butte, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Teton, and Madison counties

The Freight Advisory Committee (FAC) was created to advise ITD on issues related to freight transportation in Idaho. FAC members gather and speak on behalf of the following industries:

  • Rail, Highway/Trucking
  • Aeronautics
  • Port/Barge
  • Agriculture
  • Natural Resource
  • Manufacturing/Retail
  • Carrier/Shipping
  • Freight Logistics/Warehousing

Applications for FAC representatives in each of the six districts will be accepted June 21 – July 21, 2021. A 15-day public comment period on the candidates will then follow. Find the application form and instructions at itd.idaho.gov/freight under the Freight Program and Get Involved tabs, or also linked here.

For more information about FAC or the application, contact ITD Freight Program Manager Scott Luekenga at (208) 334-8057 or by email at scott.luekenga@itd.idaho.gov

Passing lane added to US-95 south of Potlatch this summer

Cars drive by each other on US-95 with no passing lanes

Construction on a new northbound passing lane begins Tuesday, June 22 on US-95 near Potlatch. The existing passing lane for southbound drivers at Cove Road will also be extended to provide safer opportunities to pass.

Motorists will have one lane of travel in each direction for most of construction. During initial operations, however, the highway will be reduced to one lane as crews place barrier around their work zone for safety.

Extension of the existing passing lane won’t begin until August.

Work on this mile-long project will be completed this September. The Idaho Transportation Department also plans to add northbound and southbound passing lanes north of Potlatch near Freeze Road and Beplate Lane in 2026.

Lack of cement forces pause on ID-13 repairs

Contractor on ID-13

Repairs that began in May to six miles of Idaho Highway 13 east of Grangeville will pause due to a cement shortage.

“The supplier for this project has informed us that they are facing a shortage of cement,” Resident Engineer Joe Schacher said. “Unfortunately, it may take up to a month for us to receive what we ordered and get back to work on this project.”

Repairs call for the asphalt surface of the highway to be milled, mixed with cement and then reapplied to the highway to form a stronger base. Crews would then finish the project by adding another layer of pavement. This process is known as cement recycled asphalt base stabilization, and it cannot be done properly without the cement.

“As of now, we have done everything we can do with the materials we have,” Schacher said.

To date, crews have replaced approximately 50 drains and milled the surface of the highway.

All lanes of ID-13 will remain open until work can resume, and drivers will travel primarily on a milled and gravel surface at a reduced speed of 30 mph. The contractor and ITD will continue to monitor the work zone to maintain conditions.

At this time, this is the only ITD project thought to be impacted by the shortage. Depending on the length of the delay, construction could be completed by mid-August.

Until it can be finished, ITD urges drivers to take extreme care and slow down while traversing this section of highway.

Slide on Idaho Highway 11 near Headquarters to disrupt traffic over Memorial Day Weekend

The slide condition just days after being discovered

The Idaho Transportation Department would like to advise travelers over the holiday weekend of unexpected delays on Idaho Highway 11 near Headquarters. This will impact drivers on their way to popular sites up the North Fork of the Clearwater River and the Grandad Recreation Area.

“Last month we noticed that the shoulder of ID-11 was falling away from the road,” Engineering Manager Bob Schumacher said. “Since then, the northbound lane has sunk further and is now estimated to be an eight-foot drop off.”

A man stands on the highway where the shoulder is starting to sink
A man stands on the highway where the shoulder is starting to sink on April 16
The drop off is now closer to eight feet as of April 23
The drop off is now closer to eight feet as of April 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The northbound lane of ID-11 is closed, with drivers required to yield to southbound traffic. A drill will be on site today and tomorrow to bore below the highway and into the slope. While boring beneath the highway, flaggers will stop all traffic for approximately 15 minutes at a time. Crews will also install monitoring devices to track further movement.

“We will collect soil samples at various depths,” Schumacher said. “We are looking for layers that appear to be saturated so we can determine the severity of the slide.”

Repairs will then be designed and added to a resurfacing project that was already planned for this summer between Grangemont Road and Headquarters. It is unclear at this time how the repairs will affect the timing and budget of the project.

Drivers should continue to expect at least a lane closure in the area and should check 511.idaho.gov for impacts before traveling.

Idaho Transportation Board puts new money to work across Idaho

LEWISTON – The Idaho Transportation Board approved dozens of new road projects across every corner of the state Wednesday afternoon (May 19) during its regular monthly meeting in Lewiston. The projects include $350 million in construction work that is expected to begin sometime next year.

Many of the projects are part of Idaho Governor Brad Little’s “Building Idaho’s Future” transportation funding solution.

“Idaho is the fastest growing state in the nation. To keep up with the demands of a fast-growing state, our historic transportation funding solution helps save Idahoans’ time, keeps us safe on our roads, and makes our state’s economy even stronger,” Governor Little said. “I appreciate the Idaho Transportation Board for acting quickly to put these new funds to work.”

Projects approved today that are ready now include $170 million of Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation (TECM) funds to expand Idaho State Highway 16 from its current location at US-20/26 (Chinden Blvd.) to Interstate 84. The board also dedicated $37 million of TECM funds to expand US-20/26 to four lanes from Middleton Road to I-84. Both projects should be under construction next year and will likely be bonded.

In addition, the board approved about $140 million in projects with one-time funds from the Building Idaho’s Future program, along with federal and state COVID Relief funds. This statewide group of projects is focused on critical maintenance and safety needs for highways and bridges from Ashton in eastern Idaho, to the Magic Valley and north to Wallace.

Check this link to see the full list of projects approved across the state.

“We want to thank the Idaho Legislature and Governor for one of the most significant transportation investments in state history,” said Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Bill Moad. “Our goal as a board is to be great stewards of this funding. We will work with the department to pick the projects across Idaho that will have the greatest return on investment in improving safety, increasing mobility and addressing Idaho’s rapid growth.”

In addition to $350 million in construction that will begin next year, the board also approved nearly $170 million for project development. This includes environmental planning, design and right-of-way acquisition.

“Project development is very important. The Board wants the department to have projects ready for the Building Idaho’s Future program and to be constantly advancing additional work for any future federal or state funding opportunities,” said Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Bill Moad. “It is our goal to put the money to work as soon as it becomes available.”

The TECM fund was increased to $80 million through House Bill 362 signed by Governor Little earlier this month. The Idaho Transportation Department will leverage those ongoing funds into a Building Idaho’s Future bonding program that could yield as much as $1.6 billion. The goal is to have major safety and expansion corridors financed over the next six to eight years with the bond proceeds.

ITD staff will present potential projects and corridors to include in the bonding program to the Idaho Transportation Board by the end of this year.

Twelve miles of US-95 south of Culdesac to be repaved this summer

Log truck at top of the grade on US-95

Twelve miles of US-95 south of Culdesac will be repaved this summer, with impacts to traffic starting Monday, May 3. Motorists should plan up to 15 minutes of extra time to navigate through the work zone.

Until work is complete this October, drivers should expect one lane to be closed during working hours. The highway will open to two lanes at night and on the weekends when crews are not working.

Work will be focused between mileposts 267 – 271 south of Craigmont, portions of US-95 between mileposts 273 – 283 north of Craigmont and at approximately milepost 289 in the canyon. Crews will begin with the section in the canyon and progress south past Craigmont.

These repairs cost $7.3 million and will be completed by Valley Paving & Asphalt of Cottonwood.

Over the last two years, the Idaho Transportation Department has improved safety in the area by widening the highway to accommodate 2.5 miles of passing lane for southbound drivers. While no expansion work will take place this year, three more phases of work to extend the passing lane another 6.5 miles are programmed for 2023, 2024 and 2026. Paving this year will address the lanes that were not improved with previous projects.

Reconstruction of Idaho Highway 13 east of Grangeville begins May 3

Smoky horizon in ID-13

Idaho Highway 13 east of Grangeville will undergo construction this summer. Work will resurface the highway, replace drains and address soft spots.

Repairs to ID-13 from milepost 1 to 7—which does not include Harpster Grade—will start on May 3 and will last through mid-July.

Drivers should be prepared for delays up to thirty minutes while crews are on site. During daylight hours, a pilot car will guide one lane of traffic through the zone. The highway will open up to two lanes at night and on the weekends, but traffic will still be slowed by the gravel surface.

“Construction will be short but intense,” ITD Resident Engineer Joe Schacher said. “It’s desperately needed, so we were able to move up construction from 2022 to this year.”

Community members are invited to stop by an informal open house at Grangeville City Hall at 225 West North Street on Wednesday, May 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to learn more.

Poe Asphalt will complete the repairs for $3.3 million, with work inspected by Jacobs.