US-95 south of Riggins opens for nighttime travel tonight

Traffic runs on a temporary road around the debris field on US-95

August 4 update

Starting tonight, the Idaho Transportation Department will open US-95 at the slide area south of Riggins for nighttime travel. Moving forward, the temporary road around the base of the highway will be open 24/7 unless closures are required for safety concerns or future repairs.

“We have worked with our geotechnical experts to establish a monitoring and lighting system that allows us to continually observe and survey the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Now that we can do it safely outside of daylight hours, opening up for nighttime travel will better serve our customers who need to make deliveries at night.”

Flaggers will be on site tonight to direct two lanes of traffic through the work area. After tonight, temporary signals will replace the flaggers. The signals will be controlled by a spotter who will observe the slope and coordinate with surveyors on site.

To preserve the route for future use as a detour, Old Pollock Road will continue to be posted for local traffic only.

“This slide has proven to be a complicated issue, and we would like to thank everyone for their patience as we work to resolve it in a safe manner,” Hopkins said.

The temporary road around the base of the slide has been open for daytime travel since July 27.

Plans for long-term repairs are still being designed. They are not expected to be completed this week. Another update will be sent once a contractor has been hired.

july 30 update

ITD toured the site with prospective contractors earlier this week to answer questions prior to putting the design plans for long-term mitigation out to bid.

Based on feedback from the contracting community, additional details are being added to the plans. The contract will likely not be awarded until next week or after.

july 27 update

The temporary gravel road around the base of the slide opened to two lanes today. Flaggers are on site to help traffic in the event that movement is detected on the slope.

At night, flaggers will shift from their current positions closer to the slide to maintain the closure on Old Pollock Road so it may remain viable for future use as a detour.

july 26 update

Tomorrow morning (July 27), the Idaho Transportation Department will open US-95 at milepost 188. Drivers will be able to navigate through the area on a temporary gravel road that was built at the base of the slide.

This temporary roadway was previously used for a short period of time before additional movement of the slope was discovered, which ultimately resulted in further rockfall on the highway.

“Our focus has always been centered on reopening the highway as soon as possible,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “The nature of this situation however, requires us to remain diligent and only make decisions when we can ensure the safety of both motorists and our workers.”

Last week, crews worked to blast and remove massive boulders that had fallen on the temporary roadway. Additional maintenance operations occurred over the weekend in order for traffic to begin utilizing the road Monday morning.

The temporary road will be open to one lane traffic during daytime hours only (5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT / 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. MDT). Drivers must adhere to flaggers and pilot cars that will be present to direct them through the area.

“We have been monitoring the slope since the initial slide occurred on July 3, and we will continue monitoring the slope while traffic is moving around the base of the slide,” stated Hopkins. “Safe monitoring can only occur during daylight so the hours of travel will be reduced to coincide with such.”

Over the coming weeks, ITD will continue to remove rocks from US-95 and mitigate the stability of the slope.

“We appreciate how cooperative and patient the public has been throughout this process,” Hopkins said. “Our crews have been, and will continue, to work as quickly as possible to safely restore the highway and driving conditions back to normal.”

july 24 update

Workers walk through the shoofly on US-95 at milepost 188 after the biggest boulders were blasted
Workers walk through the shoofly on US-95 at milepost 188 after the biggest boulders were blasted

Over the last week crews were able to drill and blast some of the biggest boulders that have kept the temporary road around the base of the slide on US-95 south of Riggins closed since July 10. With these boulders now much smaller, the route may reopen as early as Monday, July 27.

“Now that the boulders are of manageable size, we will focus on clearing the detour around the base of the slide while continuing to monitor the stability of the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We are still determining what the highway will look like when it reopens, but drivers should be prepared for flaggers and reduced lanes and hours.”

The final repairs to mitigate the slope failure are scheduled to be awarded on July 30. Once awarded, the contractor will be asked to mobilize within 48 hours.

Old Pollock Road will continue to be monitored and maintained for possible use as a detour in the future.

july 17 update

Photo from the top of the failing slope on US-95 at milepost 188 looking at massive boulders
Photo from the top of the failing slope on US-95 at milepost 188 looking at massive boulders

On Monday crews are expected to start removing rocks at the base of the slide on US-95 south of Riggins. The temporary road built around the base has been blocked by massive boulders since the slope failed for a second time last week but may be open in time for next weekend.

“Our entire timeline is dependent on survey results,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “If we observe movement, that will limit our ability to have crews working underneath the slope and delay the eventual reopening of the temporary road.”

No significant movement has been detected since late last week, allowing scalers to finish dislodging loose material on the rock face this week.

Removing debris and rebuilding the rock berm to shield the temporary road is planned to take at least all week.

“Some of these boulders are 40 feet wide,” Hopkins said. “We’ll need to drill and blast them into small enough pieces to be removed.”

In the meantime, drivers will continue to be detoured to Old Pollock Road, which is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT / 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. MDT.

To ensure the long-term stability of the slope, ITD has hired WHPacific to design a mitigation plan that will include controlled blasting. Those plans are scheduled to be advertised in a few weeks to allow for construction in late summer. At this time the duration and costs of removal of the rock face are unknown.

july 14 afternoon update

The US-95 slide detour route on Old Pollock Road will open an hour earlier starting tomorrow morning (July 15). Traffic will be allowed on the route from 5 am – 8 pm PDT (6 am – 9 pm MDT). This change in time is to better accommodate local traffic.

All motorists utilizing the route must still adhere to flaggers and pilot cars that are there to safely and efficiently direct traffic through the area.

July 14 morning UPDATE

The Idaho Transportation Department will continue to monitor the US-95 slide south of Riggins (milepost 188) to determine if the area is sufficiently stable for crews to begin working on rock removal.

“The additional rock fall that occurred last Thursday invalidated the survey points we were monitoring,” ITD Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We have to once again establish a baseline and carefully monitor the slope over a number of days to ensure that no significant movement is continuing to occur that would cause concern.”

A scaling crew was onsite yesterday to evaluate damage resulting from the recent rock fall and assess how the area can be best secured so that crews can begin removing fallen rock off the highway. Scalers also worked to knock off loose rocks and boulders on the slope.

Scaling activities, along with continued monitoring, are expected to carry on throughout the remainder of this week.

“We need to give the slope time to stabilize,” Hopkins explained. “When we are able to safely bring more crews into the area, we will begin rock removal, starting first on the temporary road built at the base of the slide.”

Some of the fallen rock is up to 40 feet in diameter. Various methods will be required to break the massive boulders into pieces and remove them with heavy equipment.

“Blasting in some form will likely occur,” stated Hopkins. “This will be done in a controlled manner and we will continue to carefully monitor the above slope while any work on the ground is underway.”

US-95 will remain closed until it is determined that the slope is stable and crews are safely able to enter the area and remove fallen rock.

Old Pollock Road will continue to serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours – 6 am – 8 pm PDT (7 am – 9 pm MDT). The detour will remain closed at night as crews perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.

Hopkins said the goal is to reopen the temporary roadway on US-95 as soon as it’s feasible to do so.

“We have to continue to put the safety of our workers and the traveling public first in every decision we make. Our team is working hourly and diligently on this ever changing situation and we appreciate the patience and cooperation of area residence and motorists as we work to restore the highway.”

July 10 UPDATE

Massive boulders came down last night at the U.S. Highway 95 slide south of Riggins (milepost 188). The slope above the route remains too unstable to allow for traffic or rock removal crews in the area.

“The highway will remain closed until we are able to evaluate this new development and determine the best option to safely stabilize the slope.” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

The department had already built a temporary gravel road to detour traffic around the base of the slide, but continued significant movement on the slope closed it on July 8.

“The extensive rock fall that occurred last night confirmed that we had made the right decision to completely close that portion of US-95 to traffic,” Hopkins said.

Early next week, crews will again begin scaling the slope and surveying the area.

“Currently there are a lot of overhanging boulders and ledges,” stated Hopkins. “We don’t yet know how stable these are and until we are able to further evaluate the area, crews will not be able to engage in rock removal operations.”

Old Pollock Road will continue to serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours – 6 am – 8 pm PDT (7 am – 9 pm MDT). The detour will remain closed at night in order for crews to perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.

“It’s very important that we maintain the integrity of Old Pollock Road so that it can continue to serve as a viable option for detouring traffic during this time,” Hopkins said.

The slope and area around the slide is considered extremely hazardous. ITD is asking citizens to stay away from the area for their safety. The department is also asking drivers choosing to use the detour, to ensure that they drive attentively in order to keep traffic flowing.

“The proven unpredictability of this slide requires that we remain flexible,” Hopkins said. “While our goal is to safely reopen the highway as soon as possible, we are very thankful that no one has been injured and will focus our efforts to ensure that it remains that way.”

Updates will be provided on the status of the slide as they are made available. At present, there is no estimated time for reopening of the highway.

July 8 evening update

The recently reopened detour around the US-95 closure south of Riggins due to a July 3 rockslide will not open tomorrow following discovery of significant movement on the slope. This closure is anticipated to last at least two days.

“Between Monday and today, one of our survey targets moved nearly two inches,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “That kind of activity may not sound like much, but in terms of geological movement it is alarming.”

The continued closure at US-95 will allow geotechnical experts to perform intensive scaling activities to dislodge the rock and reassess site conditions.

During the closure, Old Pollock Road will serve as a detour for both passenger and commercial traffic.

“This is a one-lane gravel road that is nearly four miles long,” Hopkins said. “Even with this open, getting through the area could take up to three hours.”

Repairs to Old Pollock Road were completed earlier tonight. Flaggers will be on scene tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. PDT / 7 a.m. MDT to direct alternating traffic.

“Slides are unpredictable, and this one keeps proving that,” Hopkins said. “For the safety of drivers and our workers, we have to close it. Until this problem is solved, we recommend that drivers check 511 every time they travel on US-95.”

July 8 morning update

Operators weigh down protective containers near the temporary road around the US-95 MP 188 slide
Operators weigh down protective containers near the temporary road around the US-95 MP 188 slide

U.S. Highway 95 will open to one lane of traffic between Pollock and Riggins this morning by 10 a.m. PDT/ 11 a.m. MDT and stay open until 8 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. MDT for the first time since the July 3 rockslide closed it at milepost 188.

Drivers will pass around the slide on a temporary gravel road. They should expect lengthy delays as only a limited number of vehicles will be allowed to pass underneath the slope at one time. Scaling activity above will also require periodic 20-minute closures over the next couple of days.

“We have built a rock berm and placed large container boxes to shield traffic from any unforeseen rockfall,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “A spotter and a surveyor will watch the hillside and be ready to have flaggers close the highway in the unlikely event it becomes unstable.” 

Starting Thursday, ITD plans to open the highway from 6 a.m. PDT /7 a.m. MDT to 8 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. MDT each day. Approximately 30 minutes before the highway is closed each night, staff at barricades in Riggins and New Meadows will turn traffic away.

Crews will continue breaking down rocks and pushing them up against the existing berm to make it taller and provide more room for any further debris.

Download a photo of operators filling the container boxes with rocks last week.

Improvements to Old Pollock Road will be completed later today, serving as another one-lane gravel option for local commuters only but not commercial traffic.

“For the time being, motorists should plan for congestion and expect the highway to be closed at night when we can’t monitor the slope,” Hopkins said. “We expect to keep flagging and monitoring for several weeks until we identify a long-term solution.”

Another update will be released when the long-term solution is identified next week.

July 7 update

Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the milepost 188 slide
Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the milepost 188 slide

The Idaho Transportation Department plans to open US-95 to traffic between Pollock and Riggins tomorrow, Wednesday (July 8) following the evaluation of geotechnical experts yesterday and positive results from continued monitoring. The highway will only open during the day to allow observation of the slope.

“Yesterday geotechnical professionals measured the slope to identify short-term options to get the highway safely open,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Today rock scalers will keep dislodging any loose material.”

Crews have closed Old Pollock Road to add gravel and install culverts to help the county repair it for local and commuter traffic. Work is expected to take up to two days.

Recent rain could affect the stability of the slope. More details will be released tomorrow morning.

July 6 evening update

A temporary road is ready around the slide on US-95 at milepost 188.
A temporary road is ready around the slide on US-95 at milepost 188.
Old Pollock Road will be closed from 7 a.m. tomorrow until Wednesday evening as improvements are made for a future non-commercial detour around the slide. 

July 6 morning update

Results from geotechnical surveys on the slide south of Riggins showed significantly less movement on the slope yesterday (July 5), but the highway will remain closed today (July 6) to allow for more monitoring.

Outside experts are examining the slope today to identify short-term and long-term options to stabilize the area. They are also dislodging any loose material.

“By tomorrow morning, we will have more data to compare to the baseline conditions of the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

Crews have finished constructing the temporary road around the slide at milepost 188 and have placed barriers to protect future traffic from rockfall.

“When survey results and on-slope evaluations prove that the slide is stable, we will look to open the highway for short periods of time,” Hopkins said. “In the meantime, we are evaluating the condition of Old Pollock Road to see how we may be able to help the county with a locals-only detour.”

The Idaho Transportation Department has submitted feedback to Google Maps to show that Old Pollock Road is currently not open to traffic. There is no detour around the slide.

July 5 update

U.S. Highway 95 will no longer open to traffic between Pollock and Riggins this afternoon to allow for continued monitoring of the slide at milepost 188.

“We know this is contradictory to what we had hoped to accomplish today and will cause long detours for travelers heading home,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said. “However, without enough data and uncertainty about an apparent gap at the top of the hillside, we are concerned it might be active still.”

Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. crews left the site once a crack in the rock face became visible from below. They had been working on a temporary road around the slide as well as building a rock berm and placing container boxes to shield traffic once allowed to pass through.

“The very nature of slides is unpredictable,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “At this time, we’re not sure when we will be able to open the highway, but we are continuing to conduct geotechnical surveys and tomorrow will have experts on the slope to pry off any loose material and further analyze its condition.”

July 4 update

An excavator clears rock from the slide at MP 188 on US-95 near Riggins
An excavator clears rock from the slide at MP 188 on US-95 near Riggins

Depending on geotechnical survey results, US-95 between Pollock and Riggins may temporarily open tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, July 5) to allow traffic to drive around the rock slide that has closed the highway since Friday morning.

“We were fortunate that there was no further activity last night, and if repeated surveys show no more movement, we are prepared to open the highway for a short time,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said. “We have surveyors on site right now to periodically gauge the stability of the slope.”

Around 9 a.m. Friday, the slope above milepost 188 crashed onto the highway, leaving a debris field approximately 120 feet long and 40 feet deep at the base. Some rocks measure 25 feet across and just as tall. Continued rockfall throughout the day kept maintenance crews from cleaning up the slide.

Equipment and operators from across the region have been called to the area. Crews are actively working to build a temporary road around the slide with a tall berm and container boxes to protect drivers in the event of more rockfall.

“Even with those protective measures in place, the biggest threat to drivers’ safety will be the stability of the slope above them,” Hoff said. “We cannot open the highway until we know it’s safe, and we won’t know without more surveys taken over time.”

Future conditions for travel are unknown at this time. Drivers should download the 511 app, follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter and pay attention to signs in the area.

Another release will be sent Sunday morning to confirm any opening of the highway.

ITD to make repairs to I-84 bridge over 10th Ave in Caldwell week of Aug. 2

Closure Map for I-84 and 10th Ave

Starting the evening of Aug. 2, ITD maintenance crews will make repairs to the Interstate 84 bridge over 10th Ave in Caldwell to extend the life of the structure and provide a smoother driving surface.

Given the high volume of traffic on this section of I-84, work will only be done from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. when traffic is at its lowest. A single lane of I-84 will be closed each night. Speed limits will be reduced. Repairs will first be made on the eastbound lanes, then the westbound lanes. Crews plan to finish repairs on one lane each night.

The graphic above describes the anticipated closure areas and which nights repairs will be made on the specific lanes.

Several potholes have formed on the pavement before and after the bridge deck, which maintenance crews filled with temporary patches. For the upcoming repairs, crews will chisel out these patches and place a smoother overlay of an epoxy material the length of the damaged area.

“This is a pretty extensive repair,” said Joe Hunter, ITD maintenance operator in Caldwell managing the project. “The patches work, but it’s a rough surface right now. When we’re done, things will be much smoother and the bridge will remain in acceptable condition.”

In addition to the single lane closures, area residents and businesses can anticipate increased noise and vibration from equipment.

ITD recently completed a long-range environmental evaluation of I-84 from Franklin Rd. to Centennial Way for additional lanes. The current proposal includes adding to the existing bridge structure to accommodate an additional eastbound and westbound lane. There is currently no funding available to construct those improvements. For more information about the environmental project, visit ITDprojects.org/i-84-caldwell-to-karcher.

Crews successfully slide new I-84 bridge into place

demolition of the blacks creek bridge begins

Normally, bridges moving is not something an engineer wants to see, but this weekend construction crews slid the first of two new bridges at the Interstate 84 Blacks Creek Interchange sixty feet into place — where it will stay for decades to come.

The slide-in-place maneuver was designed to minimize impacts to the heavily traveled Interstate. Crews construct the bulk of the new bridge right next to the existing structure. When ready, the old bridge is demolished and the replacement structure is slid into place.

“The driving force behind choosing a lateral bridge slide method was our focus on the people we serve and their ability to get where they need to go.” said Patrick Kelly, the ITD project manager overseeing the work. “We were able to keep lanes open during the entire bridge construction process. Once it was ready, we closed the eastbound lanes, demolished the old structure, pushed the new bridge into place, and are wrapping up construction on the adjacent roadway. In the end, we will have closed interstate lanes of traffic for weeks rather than months.”

The whole process, from demolition to reopening traffic, will take two to three weeks. Normal bridge replacements can take several months. With the new bridge in place, crews have just a few final items to complete, including work at the bridge abutments and repaving approaches.

To get the bridge from temporary footings to its permanent home, crews lay down Teflon pads and cover them with dish soap. Then, heavy machinery pushes and pulls the structure into place. It’s a surprisingly effective way to reduce friction and easily move the massive structure.

“Seeing how smoothly the bridge slid into place was very satisfying.” said Kelly. “It has been months of planning, preparation, and a lot of hard work to get to this point. The crews from Knife River have done a wonderful job and should be very proud of the work they’ve done.”

This method has been used before in the Gem State when, in 2014, the Lardo Bridge on ID-55 in McCall was replaced. There, as it is at Blacks Creek, the highway is an essential connection and lengthy disruptions are very impactful.

The second bridge for the westbound lanes has been constructed next to the old structure. Crews are currently finishing up the eastbound side of the interchange, including work on ramps and Blacks Creek Road. They will be ready to slide the westbound bridge into place in early August using the same method.

For more information about the project, visit ITDprojects.org/i-84-blacks-creek-interchange/.

Black Cat Road closed at Chinden, July-August 2020

Intersection of Black Cat and Chinden with stop sign

Black Cat Road Closure MapBlack Cat Road will close beginning July 6 to all traffic between Larry Lane and Chinden Boulevard (US 20/26) and to through traffic between McMillan Road and Chinden, as crews make improvements to the Chinden/Black Cat intersection as part of the ChindenWest project.

Work is scheduled to occur during the day and be complete in early August. Crews will be working in the area prior to the closure relocating utilities. Although not expected, night work is allowable.

When complete, Black Cat will have a dedicated left-turn lane to Chinden and a center turn lane that connects to the existing three-lane configuration south of Larry Lane.Black Cat, Chinden Intersection design

Traffic will be detoured via Chinden and McMillan to McDermott Road and Ten Mile Road.

Project Overview

Construction is ongoing in segments of Chinden between Eagle Road and Star Road. Specifically, paving operations to widen the highway to two-lanes in each direction is underway between Linder Road and State Highway 16, and turning movements are restricted between Locust Grove Road and Eagle as crews prepare this segment for widening. Most work is scheduled for completion in late fall 2020.

The corridor, dubbed ChindenWest, is a vital east-west corridor in the heart of the Treasure Valley. The construction will add travel lanes, widen shoulders, and build a separated path parallel to the roadway.

The project website, ITDprojects.org/ChindenWest, serves as a hub of information for the public, including videos that provide a window into the future. The one-stop-shop website includes detailed information about construction activities, anticipated traffic impacts, and the improvement designs.

Construction of upgraded I-84 interchange at Northside Boulevard proceeds this weekend

Northside Detoure Route

Following the completion of the median lanes for Interstate 84 in Nampa, crews will finish the removal the old Northside Boulevard Interchange structure this weekend.

The interchange is being upgraded to a Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI). This design is safer and more efficient than the traditional diamond interchange design and has been successful across the Treasure Valley at Ten Mile Rd., Meridian Rd., and Vista Ave. A notable difference with the Northside SPUI is that the on and off ramps will meet beneath the Interstate instead of above them.

Graphic rendering of new SPUI interchange
Graphic rendering of the new Northside SPUI

This work will require several impacts in the short-term.

Overnight Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20, Northside Blvd. will be closed between the Interstate ramps while crews demolish the remainder of the old bridge structure. I-84 will be reduced to one lane of travel in each direction. Those impacts will be in place from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. each day. Northside traffic will use a marked detour route (click for a detour map).

Beginning next week, crews will excavate the embankments of the old bridge to create additional room to shift Northside traffic. In July, Northside traffic will shift to temporary pavement on the west, allowing construction of the new features to the east. This is expected to take several months to complete.

When improvements are complete on the east side, traffic will be shifted to the new travel lanes and crews will begin constructing the new features on the west side of the interchange.

Throughout the reconstruction, two lanes in each direction will be maintained on Northside during the day. ITD anticipates nightly closures of a lane in each direction on Northside between Shannon Drive and Karcher Road.

Aerial graphic of new Northside SPUI

The upgraded SPUI will feature additional safety and capacity for vehicles. It will include new bicycle lanes and sidewalks on Northside. The eastbound on-ramp and westbound off-ramp will be a gentler grade, allowing vehicles to more-easily get up to highway speed when entering or slow down when exiting.

For more information about I-84 improvements in Canyon County, visit ITDprojects.org/84corridor.

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.

Southbound Eagle Road right turn lane from Eastbound Chinden closed during construction

Construction near the intersection of Chinden and Eagle Road

The dedicated right turn lane to Eagle Road from eastbound Chinden is closed during construction. Drivers are able to turn right to southbound Eagle Road from the thru lane.

This lane configuration will allow crews to construct new roadway on the south side of Chinden. Commuters should expect increased delays and use alternate routes when possible.

Additionally, Locust Grove at its intersection with Chinden will be closed the night of Friday, May 29th. Traffic will be detoured on McMillan Road to Meridian and Eagle roads.

For information specific to this one-mile section please visit https://itdprojects.org/chindenwestlocusttoeagle/

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.

Westbound I-84 to close east of Mtn Home for control burn operation Tuesday

BLM fire crew conducts controlled burn along a highway

The Idaho Transportation Department will close a section of Interstate 84 east of Mountain Home tomorrow morning, allowing BLM crews to conduct a controlled burn of vegetation along the highway.

The closure will be for westbound traffic only between Exit 112 and Exit 90. Traffic will be detoured off I-84 at Exit 112 (Hammett Hill Rd.), travel on Old Highway 30, and rejoin the Interstate at Exit 90 (I-84B in Mountain Home).

“We definitely want to thank ITD for being a great partner every year,” said Jared Jablonski, Fire Information Officer for the Boise District BLM. “We have spring meetings every year and we work together on mitigating fire risk along the highway.”

Check out this video of a controlled burn from earlier this year along Idaho Highway 51.

 

ITD has partnered with the Boise District Bureau of Land Management on vegetation control since 2007. Since that time, the annual number of fire starts along this section of the Interstate has dropped significantly.

“The savings to the taxpayer from this activity are considerable,” said Carl Vaughn, ITD foreman out of Mountain Home. “Fewer starts means we don’t have to close the road, firefighters can be deployed elsewhere, and public and private land adjacent to the Interstate are spared the damage of catastrophic wildfires. It’s also helped reduce animal strikes along the Interstate.”

The BLM regularly conducts controlled burns along Southwest Idaho highways during the spring. There is a narrow window when temperatures are low and new vegetation is greening up where crews can conduct controlled burns in Idaho’s desert steppe. The spring activity pays dividends during peak fire season.

“When the summertime rolls around, roadside vegetation really does become a problem, as far as unnecessary human-caused fires along the roadway,” said Jablonski. “The more fuel we can get rid of in a controlled setting, the more benefit it is to us.”

ITD and the BLM remind travelers to be fire wise and make choices to prevent wildfires this year. Two common causes of man-made wildfires are tow chains dragging on the road and sparking or hot cars parking in grassy areas. Ensure tow chains are elevated off the ground and avoid parking in areas where exhaust pipes or a catalytic converter is contacting dry grass.