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.
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.
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.
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.
· 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.
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.”
The Interstate 84 South Jerome interchange overpass bridge, built in 1966, will be replaced in several years. In preparation, ITD has launched an interactive website to gather public comment during the redesign. The public can visit www.itd.idaho.gov/d4/ to view project information and be linked to www.southjeromeinterchange.com to provide input.