Idaho Transportation Department now taking suggestions from residents for upcoming projects

Photo of future US-95 alignment in Moscow

The Idaho Transportation Department iasking for input on the justreleased draft Idaho Transportation Improvement Program (ITIP). The 2021-2027 draft ITIP is a seven-year plan of the state’s transportation improvementsand all stakeholders are encouraged to participate.  

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 in North-Central Idaho include:

  • US-95 expansion from Thorn Creek Road to Moscow in 2021 – 2022
  • Replacement of the East Kooskia Bridge on Idaho Highway 13 in 2027 
  • Turn lanes on US-95 north of Moscow at Estes Road and North Foothills Road in 2027

Notable changes to projects already in the program include the delay of two bridge replacements in Potlatch from 2021 to 2022 and another project to add turn lanes at US-95 and County Road in Grangeville from 2021 to 2023.

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

ITIP – Comments
Attn: Aubrie Spence
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707  

Paper copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting Aubrie at (208) 334-8119.  

All comments will be reviewed, incorporated into the ITIP where appropriate, and responses will be sent in August 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 to provide free Commercial Driver’s License and Heavy Equipment Operator training August 2020

Heavy Equipment & CDL Training

When it comes to local infrastructure projects, the show must go on. In these evolving times, transitioning to a career in the essential industry of heavy highway construction has never looked so appealing!

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is pleased to announce a new 4-6 week custom training program slated for August 2020. The selected twenty applicants will receive a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), a Level 1 certification as a Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO), and more.

Much like an NFL Combine or Spring Training, contractors will be invited at the conclusion of the training to meet ITD’s trainees and watch firsthand as they operate tractor-trailers and heavy construction equipment in a safe and controlled environment.  If the contractor likes what they see, they are welcome to hire new employees on the spot.

ITD’s Office of Civil Rights will be accepting applications and resumes from Friday June 12 – Friday July 10, 2020.

Send the completed application and a resume to Jasmine Platt, Contract Compliance Officer by email at civilrights@itd.idaho.gov, by picture message at 208-954-2053, or by mail at:

Idaho Transportation Department
ATTN: Jasmine Platt
P.O. Box 7129 Boise, ID 83707-1129

Applicants must be over the age of 21, hold a valid driver’s license with at least one year of driving experience, and must be able to pass a drug screening and DOT physical. No construction experience is necessary. ITD is an equal opportunity employer, and all applicants regardless of experience may apply. Women and minorities especially encouraged to apply.

 

WHAT: CDL and HEO Level 1 Training

WHEN: August 2020

WHERE: Treasure Valley (exact location TBD depending on training vendor)

Food truck services to be discontinued at Idaho rest areas

Customers line up six feet apart at a food truck stationed on I-84 at Blacks Creek

June 12

Since Governor Little lifted restrictions on restaurants as part of his economic recovery plan, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will discontinue the temporary permits for food trucks at Idaho rest areas, with the last day for food trucks set as June 12.

Food trucks have been stationed at rest areas since mid-April to offer hot meal services to essential travelers.

“More than 30 permits have been granted since we developed this provisional program,” said Nestor Fernandez, ITD’s Mobility Services Engineer. “Now that hot meals on the road will be easier to find, those permits will expire so that ITD may be in compliance with federal rules.”

In early April the Federal Highway Administration announced it would momentarily relax enforcement of rules that prohibit commercial activity on state-owned, federally-supported right of way like rest areas.

April 16

An emergency exemption by the Idaho Transportation Department will allow permitted food trucks to set up at rest areas and offer hot meals to truck drivers and other travelers.

“We heard truck drivers were having difficulties finding hot meals with the restrictions placed on nonessential businesses during the stay-at-home order,” said Nestor Fernandez, ITD’s Mobility Services Engineer. “Our goal is to support them as best as we can during this pandemic, especially long-haul drivers delivering goods across the U.S.”

ITD worked with the Idaho Trucking Association to identify opportune times for vendors to stage at rest areas as well as the Southern Idaho Food Truck Association to solicit appropriate vendors.

Food trucks will be permitted at rest areas around the state, with up to two vendors allowed at each site. They will not be permitted at rest areas that already offer these services and are under public-private management. Learn more about the temporary program.

“These temporary services are targeted at truck drivers and other essential travelers,” Fernandez said. “We don’t want to attract crowds and will advise permitted vendors to follow healthcare guidelines.”

Earlier this month, the Federal Highway Administration announced it would temporarily relax enforcement of rules that prohibit commercial activity on state-owned, federally-supported right of way like rest areas.

Once the stay-at-home order is lifted in Idaho and restrictions on nonessential businesses are eased, food trucks will no longer be permitted at rest areas.

Comment today on shoulder widening for US-12 east of Kooskia

A bicyclist on US-12 east of Kooskia

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) invites community input on shoulder widening plans for US-12 east of Kooskia via an online meeting at itdprojects.org/us12rangerstationtoholly from today (June 4) to June 25.

“We aim to enhance safety for motorists and bicyclists alike with the improvements we are proposing,” ITD Resident Engineer Joe Schacher said. “The design is simple, but one we have used previously and hope to extend throughout the corridor.”

The online meeting will focus on US-12 between the Lochsa Ranger Station at milepost 121 and Holly Creek at milepost 131. Major changes include widening shoulders to be two feet wide on either side and adding centerline rumble strips in no-passing zones.

“This project won’t go to construction until 2023,” Schacher said, “but it is part of our ongoing mission to improve safety from Syringa to Warm Springs.”

Comments may be submitted via the website, calling (208) 799-4233, emailing joe.schacher@itd.idaho.gov or sending mail to P.O. Box 837 in Lewiston at the attention of Joe Schacher.

Those who do not have the ability to engage online should use the contact information above, and a member of the project team will provide other resources to participate.

With drivers back on the road, ITD kicks off another work zone awareness week

Crew removing brush on US-2 as an example of a short duration operation

National Work Zone Awareness Week is traditionally held in April, but with more drivers back on highways, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is again spotlighting work zone safety.

ITD asks media partners and drivers to tune in each day this week (May 18 – 23) to the department’s Facebook and Twitter pages to see different types of work zones.

Drivers are familiar with larger road construction projects, which are typically well-marked and have better visibility, but they may not be as familiar with short-duration operations.

These can pop up anywhere, at any time. Whether it is a highway worker stopping to remove a shredded tire or animal carcass from the road, or performing maintenance work like repairing guardrail right next to the travel lanes, these jobs generally put workers closer to the road, and closer to danger. There is less time for the worker or the driver to take evasive action when encountering short-duration operations.

Just last year, an ITD operator was killed outside Arco in a short-duration operation, reminding us all of the importance of being safe and vigilant in work zones across the state.

During this week, ITD also remembers the sacrifices of other workers lost over the years while on the job – many of them were killed in work zones. Since this picture was taken, there have been two more markers added to the Fallen Workers Memorial, bringing the total to 40 workers since 1960.

“Work zones can be the most hazardous areas on our state highway system,” ITD Safety Manager Randall Danner said. “We urge drivers to use extreme caution when passing through these areas so they can arrive at their destination safely and our workers can return home to their loved ones.”

In addition to short-duration maintenance operations, ITD has dozens of projects planned this year with information on itdprojects.org. Each project is different in terms of traffic revisions and reduced speed limits. Please check 511.idaho.gov for traveler information.

US-95 repaving through Lapwai and Culdesac begins Thursday, April 23

Photo of a truck on US-95 near Lapwai

Construction to resurface six miles of US-95 through Lapwai and Culdesac will begin Thursday, April 23.

Drivers can expect alternating, one-way traffic during working hours. When crews are not on site, no lane closures will be in place.

Work is expected to last two months. During this time, drivers may encounter both daytime and nighttime work.

The highway will be repaved from Webb Road to Aspen Lane in Lapwai and from Mission Creek Road to Old Winchester Grade in Culdesac.

Once the highway is repaved, the driving surface will be smoother. Learn more at itdprojects.org/us95lapwaiculdesac.

Signal upgrade at 18th Street and Main Street in Lewiston starting tomorrow to improve traffic flow

Picture of US-12 as it crosses into Clarkston

Workers from the Idaho Transportation Department and the City of Lewiston will modify the existing signal at 18th Street and Main Street in Lewiston starting tomorrow (April 21) to improve traffic flow.

The modified signal will feature flashing yellow arrows.  

“This change improves drivers’ mobility by allowing them to turn left after checking for pedestrians and oncoming traffic without waiting for a solid green arrow,” ITD Traffic Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

Work will start at 8 a.m. and will last for several hours, during which time drivers will be directed to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

State’s old Highway Advisory Radio system being decommissioned

The Idaho State Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) communication system is being decommissioned. The use of the old system was suspended on April 1. ITD is evaluating whether existing HAR equipment and infrastructure can be repurposed to meet other needs.

There are 25 HAR sites and 58 beacons located around the state, broadcasting emergency information on the am radio frequency. However, the equipment had reached the end of its useful life, and no longer met the technology security requirements of the state.

In addition, surveys showed that the HAR system, although once popular, was now ranked well behind other more viable sources for information distribution, such as 511 or roadside electronic message boards.

 

ITD increases frequency of cleaning at major rest areas

Update as of June 22: At this point in time, only the touch points at rest areas at on US-95 south of Midvale and Blacks Creek on I-84 east are being cleaned every two hours. 

Rest areas will stay open to support the delivery of goods and services through Idaho and the nation, with key rest areas to be cleaned more frequently to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“Rest areas provide an essential service as a respite for truckers,” said Nestor Fernandez, ITD’s mobility services engineer. “While we’re seeing fewer passenger vehicles on the highway, freight services are in full tilt. We have heard from our partners in the trucking industry that they need these areas open, and we are working to meet that need.”

Rest areas at Midvale Hill on US-95 south of Midvale, Blacks Creek on I-84 east of Boise and Huetter on I-90 west of Coeur d’Alene will be cleaned every two hours with a focus on commonly touched surfaces like door handles.

All rest areas are cleaned two times a day, but due to high usage at these locations they will be cleaned more often. ITD is working with vendors responsible for cleaning rest areas to make sure they have the resources they need.

The rest area on US-12 at Lolo Pass on the Idaho-Montana border, which is jointly managed with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), is currently closed.

“Out of an abundance of caution for our employees and the public, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests has made the decision to close the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, including the restrooms, until further notice,” said Jennifer Becar, public affairs specialist with the USFS. “This decision was made in order to best protect the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, and the public, and is consistent with the forest’s shift to only offering virtual services at offices and other facilities at this time.”

For more information on other USFS closures, visit www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater.

Another rest area on eastbound I-84 on the Idaho-Oregon border near Fruitland continues to be closed due to issues with the septic system.

The department is also exploring options to allow food trucks to offer services at remote rest areas to support truck drivers as they continue to deliver goods across the United States.

To check the status of specific rest areas, visit 511.idaho.gov or download the app.

Adopt a Highway program suspended during COVID-19 pandemic

ITD truck loaded with bags of trash from an Adopt a Highway pickup

The Idaho Transportation Department has suspended the Adopt a Highway and other volunteer programs to focus on essential services and promote community safety.

Under the program, volunteers adopt a section of highway for two years at a time and commit to removing litter twice a year. These sections are marked by special white and blue signs on the highway.

The department provides volunteers with safety vests, trash bags and road signs but decided to temporarily suspend the program in late March. There were concerns about encouraging large groups to gather and the ability to clean shared items between uses.

Groups are being notified via email and mail of the suspension. Organizations will not lose their adopted sections if they do not meet the required number of pickups this year.

“We appreciate the willingness of our fellow Idahoans to keep our state beautiful by picking up trash but unfortunately have to temporarily halt the program,” said Judi Conner, the volunteer services coordinator. “For the time being, drivers should expect to see more trash as ITD and our volunteers follow guidance to keep our communities safe.”

Other volunteer programs that allow nonprofit organizations to offer free refreshments at rest areas or offer educational presentations to schools have also been put on pause.

ITD aims to support volunteer services again once cleaning supplies are readily available and guidance from health experts changes.

More information about volunteer programs and contact information for program coordinators may be found at itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce.