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.”

Testing finds no E. coli in Hagerman rest area water

UPDATE 7/3/18: Second water test comes back clean, so boil order lifted and water fountain reopens this afternoon.
UPDATE 6/30/18: Additional water testing at the Hagerman rest area on US-30 has come back negative for E. coli. Another test is slated for today, Monday 7/2.

Below is the initial release on the subject:

SHOSHONE—On Thursday, June 28 E. coli bacteria were found in the Hagerman Rest Area water supply located south of Hagerman on US-30. The discovery was made during routine quarterly testing conducted by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Drinking fountains have been disabled but the rest area will remain open while ITD works with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to investigate the cause and take corrective actions on the issue.

Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.

What should I do? What does this mean?

  • DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
  • E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
  • The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice from their healthcare providers about drinking this water.

What is being done?

ITD is completing a comprehensive assessment of the water system as well as monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct any causes of the contamination.

Public will be informed when tests show no bacteria are present and there is no longer need to boil drinking water. It is anticipate that the problem will be resolved within 7 days.

For more information, please contact ITD at 208-886-7808 or ITD 216 South Date St. Shoshone ID 83352. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Westbound I-84 construction between Kimberly/Hansen and Ridgeway Road exits starts April 2

The week of April 2, pavement rehabilitation is expected to begin in eastern Jerome County along the westbound lanes of Interstate 84 between the exits at Kimberly/Hansen (Exit 182) and Ridgeway Road (Exit 194).

This is part of a 12-mile reconstruction project anticipated to last through mid-November.

During construction, traffic on I-84 will be reduced to one lane in each direction and some ramp closures will occur. Drivers should expect reduced speeds throughout the project and watch for crews during working hours – Monday through Saturday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Additionally, six I-84 westbound on- and off-ramps will be reconstructed throughout the boundaries of the project. Crews will also hydro-blast and overlay bridge decks, replace existing pipes throughout the work zone with treated pipes that increase water flow and are longer-lasting, and excavate dirt below the overpasses to increase overhead clearance by as much as two feet.

Knife River Corp. Northwest from Boise is the contractor for this $23 million project.

Drivers are advised to check 511.idaho.gov for updates during construction.

Child Pedestrian Safety projects start in spring

BOISE – A dozen sidewalk and pathway projects benefiting child pedestrian safety will be built this year across the state beginning this spring.

There were 71 eligible project applications requesting more than $12M in funds to consider in this year’s funding cycle (there was just $2M in funding available). The maximum award is $250,000. Construction must be completed before the end of the year.

The projects are thanks to collaboration between the Idaho Transportation Department and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, after a legislative effort last year. They are funded with general fund surplus money approved by the Idaho Legislature during the 2017 session.

The following 12 projects were approved for funding:

Location        Amount
Ashton            $250,000
Title: Main Street sidewalk improvements
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk and lighting improvements along Main St. (ID-47) to connect with the existing pedestrian system at the high school.

Blackfoot         $171,000
Title: Ridge Crest Elementary Safety Improvements Project
Description: This project will provide a 575-foot section of sidewalk along Airport Road to extend the sidewalk from Ridgecrest Elementary to the park. Additional safety improvements include a pedestrian crossing at East Airport Road.

Burley             $191,000
Title: Highland Avenue and East 19th Street Sidewalk Connection
Description: This project will provide nearly a half-mile of new sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps that connect two schools along Highland Avenue. The schools are White Pine Intermediate and Dworshack Elementary.

Caldwell          $109,446
Title: Sacajawea Elementary School Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk, updated ADA curb ramps, bike lanes, and streetlights, and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon along Illinois Avenue to provide a safe route to school for children travelling to Sacajawea Elementary.

Carey               $154,640
Title: Crosswalk Signage and Pedestrian Improvement Project
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along ID-26 and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians walking across the state highway.

Driggs               $125,000
Title: South 5th Street Pathway
Description: This project will provide approximately 1,600 feet of 10-foot-wide multiuse path and ADA ramps along South 5th Street, connecting four schools to residential areas. This project extends an existing safe route to school.

Firth                  $250,000
Title: Children Pedestrian Improvements
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along Center Street from Main St. (ID-91) to the elementary school. Additional safety improvements include a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signal on Main St.

Idaho Falls         $240,000
Title: Iona Street, Riverside Drive and Bush Elementary Connections
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along Iona Street and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon for safe crossings at Riverside Drive (a busy street near an interchange). A second location includes sidewalk connections to Bush Elementary.

Marsing              $35,326
Title: ID-55 Sidewalk Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along ID-55, connecting the public library and downtown with the elementary, middle, and high schools.

Moscow             $250,000
Title: Third Street Corridor Improvements
Description: This project will provide about 970 feet of new sidewalk along 3rd Street, connecting two elementary schools and the high school along a safe route to school. Additional safety improvements include adding center medians, curb extensions, vertical tube delineator (high-visibility markings), and school-zone lighting.

Shelley                $135,000
Title: Locust and US-91 Improvements
Description: This project will install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at the intersection of ID-91 and Locust Street to provide a safe pedestrian crossing for students going to the school or library.

Teton                  $28,000
Title: Child Pedestrian Safety Project
Description: This project will install Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons at two intersections along ID-33 south of Teton Elementary to provide safe crossing for students going to and from school.

Public can view 3-D animation, design of interchange Feb. 22 in Jerome

ITD is hosting a public hearing Feb. 22 to present the preliminary design for the reconstruction of the I-84 South Jerome Interchange, slated for 2020. The hearing will feature three-dimensional animation to provide the public a birds-eye and driver’s perspective of the unique divided diamond design.

The public is invited to attend anytime between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Idaho State Police Region Four office, 218 Yakima Avenue in Jerome.

Project staff will be on-hand to answer questions and a hearing officer will be available to take oral or written testimony. Spanish translation services will also be provided.

The 52-year-old interchange has been identified by ITD for replacement and redesign. Public input received through key stakeholder meetings and public comments have confirmed public support for the selected divided diamond interchange design.

The new interchange will:

• Improve traffic operations and safety.
• Minimize impact to properties and the natural environment.
• Provide smooth traffic flow.
• Safely accommodate pedestrian and bicycle travel.
• Reduce travel time.
• Efficiently move goods and services.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact ITD Project Manager, Nathan Jerke at 208-886-7809 or nathan.jerke@itd.idaho.gov. Additional information is available at www.southjeromeinterchange.com.

To be considered in the official comment period, comments must be received by March 8.

Safety is a top concern for ITD – here are a few examples:

Idaho is home to a lot of rural roadways that present some unique safety challenges. Here are a few recent initiatives from ITD to improve public safety on those routes:

SPOTLIGHTING DANGEROUS CURVES
If you ever played a driving video game, then you’ve seen the big flashing arrows that warn you when a curve is coming up and which way to turn. You’re not very likely to run into the wall, but follow directional arrows around the curve and go for the finish line.

Big electronic flashing arrows might be effective in a fast-paced game, but would not be very efficient on some of Idaho’s rural highways.

Here’s the rest of the story

RURAL INTERSECTION CONFLICT WARNING SYSTEM
Rural highway intersections can be hazardous if drivers are not aware of upcoming stops and free-flowing traffic crossing their paths. Here’s a lower-cost system to help save lives.

Here’s the rest of the story

 

Fire season closing south-central Idaho roads

wildfire damaged sign

It’s been a busy couple weeks; fire season is officially here. It started as soon as a human-caused fire closed Interstate 84 near Glenns Ferry on June 5. As soon as winter snows melted and spring floods subsided, summer dryness hit the lowlands.

The past two weeks has seen a series of small brush fires grow out of control and close several routes throughout southern Idaho – I-84 near the Utah border for several hours, U.S. 26 on two occasions between Bliss and Shoshone, Idaho Highway 75 north of Shoshone, as well as U.S. 93 and Idaho Highway 24 near Shoshone.

Truck coated in retardant
This ITD truck, used to close U.S. 93 at the south entrance to Shoshone during the Antelope Fire on July 10, got coated in fire retardant by an aerial tanker.

The latest, the Antelope Fire, started last Sunday around 6:30 p.m. It originally started off U.S. 26, between Shoshone and Gooding, following a lightning strike in the sagebrush desert of western Lincoln County. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) resources struggled to gain control through the night, due to high winds and high temperatures. The fire jumped U.S. 26 several times.

Around 10 a.m. Monday, the south side of the fire kicked up and made a push on Shoshone.

“The winds were burning at approximately 25 mph, with even higher gusts,” said BLM Fire Information Officer Kelsey Brizendine. “This caused the fire to make a push at 93, which, thanks to our great partners at ITD, was closed down. This closure remained in effect for several hours, giving firefighters the space they needed, as well as keeping the public safe.”

The Antelope Fire closed U.S. 93 just before noon, pushed across the highway, closed Idaho 24 at about 1 p.m. and threatened buildings near Shoshone. The fire was all but out on Tuesday morning, but ended up at burning about 29,493 acres.

“This is going to be a busy year,” Brizendine added. “The fuel is thick, dry and the wind makes things hard.”

Many areas of Idaho are already under high fire danger due to fuel loads and dry conditions. Many of the initial fires that have affected southern Idaho highways have been human caused — only the Antelope Fire was from lightning, giving extra importance to the impact residents and road users have on the travel and public safety.

The BLM reminds the public that whether you are recreating or traveling on the highways or back roads, keep fire prevention in mind and follow these fire prevention tips:

On the road:
· Keep tires properly inflated.
· Grease your wheel bearings.
· Tie up trailer safety chains.
· Do not drive or park in tall, dry grass.

At the campground:
· Have a shovel, bucket, and water nearby.
· Make sure your campfire is completely out. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Target Shooting:
· Check weather conditions. Hot + Dry + Wind = Quick-Spreading Wildfires
· Choose a shooting area that is clear of dry grass/vegetation and rocks.
· Always bring water, a fire extinguisher and a shovel.
· Discharging a firearm using incendiary, steel core or tracer ammunition is prohibited on BLM lands from May to October 20.
· Burning, igniting or causing to burn explosive material, including exploding targets is prohibited on BLM lands from May to October 20.

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.”