New landslide database provides tool for project development and hazard mitigation

The Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) is helping the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) learn more from landslides in the Gem State. A new statewide inventory database of landslide and rock fall hazards released by IGS in late June will assist ITD, emergency managers, and planners with forecasting and hazard mitigation by identifying problematic hot spots.

The project was sponsored by ITD’s Division of Highways – Construction and Materials team and funded through ITD’s Research Program.

The inventory contains more than 2,400 landslide entries spanning from prehistoric to active events. It’s posted on the IGS website and can be accessed through an interactive webmap service.

The information was also added to ITD’s IPLAN online ArcGIS platform. The database includes attributes to maintain MSE retaining wall locations and risk factors to evaluate the condition of the wall, as well as attributes for rock fall risk, so ITD districts can assess the problematic areas that could cause road closures.

Data were compiled from historic archives, information provided by ITD geotechnical staff and district geologists, unpublished IGS field observations, analysis of LiDAR imagery, remote sensing, satellite images, and newly mapped landslides.

“The study represents a live catalog of mass movements across the state with a particular focus on transportation corridors and urban areas,” said State Geologist and IGS Director Claudio Berti. “The database is a tool for documenting and assessing slope stability hazards. It is not intended to predict future events, but to document known events and show broad patterns of occurrence.”

This new database replaces the last inventory published in 1991, a static map no longer suitable for modern digital analyses. The 2021 version will be kept up to date as new events occur or new information becomes available.

Landslide problem areas in Idaho include: Bonners Ferry, Clearwater River Basin, Horseshoe Bend, Boise Foothills, Hagerman, U.S. 95 between Pollock and Lucile, and U.S. 26 between Swan Valley and the Wyoming border. Geologic characteristics of the bedrock, fractures, systems, precipitation, regional hydrogeology, vegetation, wildfires, and steepness of hillslopes are all contributing factors in landslide initiation and development.

You can also learn more by reading the full research report linked here.

Idaho Transportation Department now taking comments for all upcoming projects

Cars cross Lake Pend Oreille on the Long Bridge

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is asking for input on the just-released draft Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP). The 2022-2028 ITIP is a seven-year master plan of the state’s transportation improvement projects. Everyone is encouraged to participate starting in July.

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 throughout Idaho are:

  • Bridge replacement and adding a travel lane on west bound I-86 in Pocatello.
  • Interchange improvements to the I-15 Exit 113 interchange in Idaho Falls including constructing roundabouts.
  • Full road reconstruction on ID-33 from the US-20/ID-33 interchange to Newdale.
  • Replacement of the structure at the I-84/ID-50 Junction (Exit 182).
  • Replacement of Yankee Fork Bridge on ID-75 in Custer County.
  • Widening ID-44 from Star Road to Linder Road.
  • Extending ID-16 from US-20/26 to I-84.
  • Redesign of the interchange at I-90 and ID-41, with construction planned to start in 2023.
  • Study to begin this fall to examine potential expansion of US-95 to four lanes from Moscow to north of the Mineral Mountain Rest Area.

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

ITIP – Comments
Attn: Office of Communication
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707

Paper copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting the Idaho Transportation Department (208) 334-8119.

All comments will be reviewed, incorporated into the ITIP where appropriate, and responses will be sent in September 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’s Freight Program seeks representatives to help shape freight’s future

Help shape Idaho’s freight future! The Idaho Transportation Department is seeking representatives to serve on the Freight Advisory Committee. The group is made of six members, one representing each of ITD’s administrative districts.

  • The individual selected for District 1 will represent Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, and Shoshone counties
  • The individual selected for District 2 will represent Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, and Nez Perce counties
  • The individual selected for District 3 will represent Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Washington, and Valley counties
  • The individual selected for District 4 will Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Twin Falls counties
  • The individual selected for District 5 will represent Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida, and Power counties
  • The individual selected for District 6 will represent Bonneville, Butte, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Teton, and Madison counties

The Freight Advisory Committee (FAC) was created to advise ITD on issues related to freight transportation in Idaho. FAC members gather and speak on behalf of the following industries:

  • Rail, Highway/Trucking
  • Aeronautics
  • Port/Barge
  • Agriculture
  • Natural Resource
  • Manufacturing/Retail
  • Carrier/Shipping
  • Freight Logistics/Warehousing

Applications for FAC representatives in each of the six districts will be accepted June 21 – July 21, 2021. A 15-day public comment period on the candidates will then follow. Find the application form and instructions at itd.idaho.gov/freight under the Freight Program and Get Involved tabs, or also linked here.

For more information about FAC or the application, contact ITD Freight Program Manager Scott Luekenga at (208) 334-8057 or by email at scott.luekenga@itd.idaho.gov

Hearing begins today on 129,000-pound truck route application for Custer and Butte counties

Graphic of truck on highway with text reading Comment on proposed 129k route

The Idaho Transportation Department is hosting a virtual public hearing to collect comments on a proposal to reclassify a portion of US-93 in Custer and Butte counties as legal for commercial loads weighing up to 129,000 pounds.

In the application submitted to ITD, Amalgamated Sugar Company requested reclassification of the following route in order to transport lime rock from the US Calcium mine near Darlington to their plants in Twin Falls and Paul:

– US-93 from the Idaho Highway 75 junction near Challis to the US-20 junction in Arco (MP 160.38 to 82.60)

The public hearing begins today and continues until June 23.

The hearing provides an opportunity for citizens to learn about 129,000 pound loads. Individuals are also able to review the evaluation and comment on the current route application.

To access the hearing, visit itd.idaho.gov/freight

Comments will be accepted through Wednesday, June 23 and may be submitted in the following ways:

– recorded by calling (855) 790-4988
– via the online hearing: itd.idaho.gov/freight
– emailed to: officeofthechiefengineer@itd.idaho.gov
– mailed to: Idaho Transportation Department
ATTN: Scott Luekenga
PO Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707

Individuals may also contact Scott Luekenga directly with questions or comments regarding this application, 129k routes, or the approval process by calling 208-334-8057.

The Department is required to conduct an analysis and public hearing on all requests to operate 129,000 lbs. on the state highway system before the Idaho Transportation Board makes a final decision.

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 “Building Idaho’s Future” 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: 

ITD considering partnership to reinitiate maintenance of backcountry airstrip in Lemhi County

Hoodoo Meadows Airstrip corridor and borrow trench - Photo taken near entrance facing North.

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Aeronautics (ITD) is seeking public comments as it considers restoring and managing a backcountry airstrip in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

The Hoodoo Meadows airstrip (as shown in image above) is the highest in the state at an elevation of 8,200 feet, and provides access to the Frank Church – Wilderness of No Return. The airstrip is located just south of Yellowjacket Lake and near the popular Bighorn Crags area. It has not been used since the 1980s.

The site was managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) after its construction in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and traditionally used to gain recreational access for alpine lake fishing, wildlife viewing, and big game hunting. Although there were no reported accidents, in the early 1980s the airstrip was rated marginal for safety, and by 1989 trees had encroached the site and made it unusable.

In 2016, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) initiated the effort to restore the Hoodoo Meadows airstrip, due to repeated public inquiries about recreational accessibility. Together, USFS, IDFG, and ITD, with support from the Idaho Aviation Association and the Recreation Aviation Foundation, are working on an agreement that would open the site for air travel and provide for future maintenance.

“This effort has been underway for several years. Our role would be making the airstrip safe for pilots to land again, by clearing vegetation and installing safety features like runway markers,” Aeronautics Administrator Jeff Marker said. “It would take about a month of initial cleanup work on our part, but would provide more access for those who wish to explore some of the most remote places in Idaho.”

Visit itd.idaho.gov/aero to review the proposed partnership, then please provide ITD your feedback on the plan. Public comments will be accepted March 15 to March 29 through the following options:

  • Email jillian.garrigues@itd.idaho.gov
  • Record verbal testimony by calling (855) 785-2499
  • Send your written comments by mail to
    ATTN: Jillian Garrigues
    Idaho Transportation Department
    PO Box 7129
    Boise, ID 83707

The USFS sought comments in 2018 on reopening the Hoodoo Meadows airstrip. Now, the public can voice their support or concerns regarding ITD’s involvement in the partnership.

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.