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 “Leading Idaho” 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.

Comment period open for the I-86/I-15 system interchange project in Pocatello

I-15/I-86 Interchange Southbound

 
POCATELLO – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has opened a two week comment period to the public on recent project updates to the I-86/I-15 System Interchange project.

The public can now comment on the system interchange project updates which include but are not limited to:  a new separated pedestrian/bicycle pathway east of the interstate; construction detour information; project FAQs and other proposed improvements.

The community can utilize an interactive map showing the project details and proposed improvements before submitting their comments. The comment period is open now through Monday, May 24.

Project construction will begin in 2022 with plans of interchange completion in 2025.

For project information, updates and to comment please visit: 

Breakup limits put in place for spring conditions

Congestion on ID-53 during spring breakup

As highways in Idaho start to warm up this spring, they become more susceptible to damage from heavy traffic, prompting state and local transportation agencies to enforce seasonal restrictions. ITD has currently restricted several routes in North and East Idaho.

VIDEO: Congestion and repairs as a result of spring breakup.

Restrictions on state highways are noted on 511 and are put up days in advance to prepare drivers for congestion on their routes. They apply to trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. On state highways, vehicles of this size are required to reduce their speeds to 30 mph and weigh no more than 14,000 pounds per axle. On U.S. highways, they still must reduce their speed to 30 mph but can weigh more in accordance with legally permitted loads. Spring breakup restrictions are not applied on interstates.

While they can cause significant congestion on highways with a mix of commercial and commuter traffic, restrictions are preventative measures that ultimately save drivers’ time and resources.

In the spring heavy loads can cause rapid deterioration of pavement. As temperatures increase, the frozen base underneath the road thaws and becomes saturated with water, which creates a weaker section below the pavement that can lead to potholes and cracks. Highways can even appear to pump water at this time of year.

Springtime damage may result in months of repairs in the summer, diverting maintenance dollars from being invested into other routes. The damage can also be so severe as to be beyond the scope of normal highway maintenance. Compare this cost to drivers with time spent following a slow truck or waiting for safe opportunities to pass.

Foremen across the state track conditions to know when to enact breakup limits. Restrictions are usually imposed on older highways with deteriorating bases that don’t drain moisture as well.

These seasonal restrictions are only in place as long as necessary and save taxpayer dollars from being spent on damage that could have been prevented.

This spring, practice patience on the road and protect our highways from unnecessary damage.

Multiple overnight detours in place this week for Salt Lake Interchange project

Image of I-84/86 Interchange

Drivers traveling through the Interstate 84/86 interchange this week should plan extra time for several different detours. Detours will be in place between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. and will vary depending on what work is being done.

Both eastbound and westbound traffic will be affected, with all of these detours routing motorists off the interstate.

“It’s necessary for us to detour traffic in order to complete installation of overhead signs at the newly constructed interchange,” ITD Project Manager Travis Hitchcock said. “The direction motorists are traveling through the interchange will determine which detour they will be directed to take.”

Motorists traveling east on Interstate 84/86 from Burley will be routed to Idaho Highway 77 and Idaho Highway 81. Motorists traveling west from Pocatello will take Exit 15 for Raft River and travel on North Yale Road until they reach the I-84/Yale Road Interchange. Motorists traveling north from Utah will be directed to exit at the I-84/Yale Road Interchange and then travel either east toward Pocatello or west toward Burley.

“These detours will not all be in place at the same time,” Hitchcock said. “We will only be detouring traffic that would otherwise be passing underneath the area where the signs are being installed at the time. This will help ensure the safety of both site workers and the traveling public while work is underway.”

Drivers are urged to pay close attention to signage and message boards that will be in place to direct them through the area.

Wadsworth Brothers Construction, of Draper, Utah, is the primary contractor on this project.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Winter weather conditions in East Idaho closes numerous roadways temporarily

Drifting snow on ID-33 in Eastern Idaho

Various locations in Eastern Idaho are experiencing high-speed winds that are creating blowing and drifting snow and low visibility on the roadways. The Idaho Transportation Department has temporarily closed numerous roads because of the snowy and icy conditions.

Due to current weather conditions in Eastern Idaho the following roadways are closed:

  • ID-26 from Ririe to ID-31 in Swan Valley
  • ID-32 from Ashton to Tetonia
  • ID-33 from Newdale to ID-32 Tetonia

ITD will be monitoring roadways around the clock and plowing as able until the highways are clear and safe to open. Weather permitting roadways may reopen as soon as tomorrow (Feb. 27).

The Idaho State Police and ITD are encouraging motorists to use caution and choose alternate routes if they must travel. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for assistance.

Drivers are advised to drive at a safe distance, slow down and prepare travel plans ahead of time by checking 511.idaho.gov for current road conditions.

Additional information on winter safety can be found at: itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce

Idaho Ready: Pack your winter car emergency kit

Winter weather has arrived in Idaho and it’s time to be Idaho Ready on the road. One way you can do that? Keep an emergency kit in your car this winter.

You want to be prepared for anything that comes your way, so here are a few things you should always have with you when traveling.

  • Flashlight — make sure the batteries work
  • Jumper cables — in case your car won’t start, or maybe you need to help someone else
  • Kitty litter can give you some traction if your tires are spinning on ice
  • Chains
  • Small shovel to dig out around your tires or tailpipe
  • Flares and a first aid kit
  • Food and water — pack high protein snacks that will fill you and your family up for a while
  • Anything to keep you warm — a blanket or a small sleeping bag, winter coat, gloves, hat, and waterproof boots
  • Ice scraper

If you run off the road, break down, or simply get stuck during a storm, these items will help keep you warm and safe until help arrives. Remember, always let someone know about your travel plans, especially if you’ll be driving through areas with no cell service. Check the latest road conditions at 511.idaho.gov before you leave.

Idaho Ready: Winter driving insight from ITD’s snow plow operators

In Idaho you have to be prepared for all sorts of winter weather, and that means being Idaho Ready to drive safely. The Idaho Transportation Department wants drivers to have the knowledge and resources to do that, before they hit the road. Read the messages below to gain some winter driving insight from ITD’s own snow plow operators.

More than 1,200 cited in two-week long effort to increase seat belt use 

BOISE – The results are in and after statewide enforcement and awareness effort to buckle up, participating officers issued 1,265 citations for seat belt violations. 

In Idaho, the seat belt use rate is 85%. The mobilization efforts exist for the remaining 15% who still don’t buckle up. In the last five years, from 2015-2019, 56 percent of vehicle occupants killed in Idaho were not restrained and 1,207 unrestrained vehicle occupants were critically injured in traffic crashes. 

“Despite major advancements in vehicle protection, the most effective way to reduce serious injury or fatalities in crashes still remains the simplest task of all: wearing a seat belt,” said Highway Safety Grants Officer Josephine Middleton. 

The mobilization launched July 25 and wrapped up August 7. Typically, the Click It or Ticket campaign runs in May, but given the downturn in traffic counts this spring due to COVID-19, the Office of Highway Safety ran the mobilization effort later in the summer when more cars were on the road 

Even with the challenges of this year, many agencies found a way to make sure that Idahoans were buckled up when driving during the 100 Deadliest Days,” added Middleton. 

 

 

 

 

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.