Statewide efforts underway to reduce aggressive driving during 100 Deadliest Days

During the 100 Deadliest Days on Idaho roads, the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is working with law enforcement agencies statewide to reduce aggressive driving.

The summer days between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are known as the 100 Deadliest, when there is an increase in fatal crashes. According to OHS preliminary data, 41 people have died in crashes in Idaho since Memorial Day weekend this year.

Friday, July 23 through Sunday, August 8, close to 60 law enforcement agencies throughout Idaho will participate in OHS’ high visibility enforcement campaign, dedicating patrols to enforcing Idaho’s speed limits and stopping aggressive drivers. Aggressive driving is a contributing factor in half of all crashes in Idaho. It happens when a driver makes the choice to speed, follow another car too closely, run a red light or ignore a stop sign, weave in and out of traffic, or not use turn signals.

“We are reminding drivers to stay engaged behind the wheel and watch for those speed limit signs,” said OHS Manager John Tomlinson. “We all have the responsibility to pay attention to how we are driving, have patience and protect other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.”

Speeding greatly reduces a driver’s ability to slow down when necessary or to steer safely around an unexpected curve, another vehicle, or hazard in the road. It also increases danger for pedestrians and people who ride bicycles.

“As you enjoy summer in Idaho, please keep in mind that traveling in a vehicle is one of the most risky situations we experience on a daily basis. Any time you speed, you are putting yourself and other people in danger,” Tomlinson added. “Let’s drive well so everyone can make it to their destinations safely.”

For more information visit shift-idaho.org/aggressive-driving

ITD providing exemptions for truckers after Gov. Little’s fire season emergency declaration

Wildfires

BOISE – A fire disaster emergency proclamation issued on July 9 by Idaho Governor Brad Little will allow trucks carrying jet fuel and other fire equipment exemptions from certain federal regulations to assist with the western states’ wildfire fighting efforts.

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Ports of Entry and Idaho State Police will waive the “hours of operation” that limit how long truckers can drive within a shift. This applies to trucks carrying loads assisting in the firefighting efforts for the next 30 days. If the crisis continues past this date, Governor Little or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may extend the exemptions.

“The Idaho Transportation Department’s Port of Entry inspectors are aware of the exemptions and prepared to assist trucks carrying firefighting products in any way they can,” Division of Motor Vehicles Administrator Alberto Gonzalez said. “All transportation department resources are ready to assist the firefighting efforts as needed.”

 

 

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.

Construction begins next week on Idaho Highway 75 in Hailey

Image of ID-75 (Main Street) in Hailey

On Sunday night (July 11), the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will begin phase two of the rehabilitation project on Idaho Highway 75 (Main Street) in Hailey between Fox Acres Road and Cobblestone Lane.

The first phase began in May with updates to pedestrian ramps and crossings to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The second phase of the project will rehabilitate the roadway and provide for a smoother driving surface through downtown Hailey.

“Work on the roadway is more dependent on warm weather than the pedestrian ramp updates,” ITD Project Manager Steve Hunter said. “Now that we are fully into summer, and temperatures are not as variable as in the spring, we can begin construction on the roadway.”

Through the remainder of summer, ITD will rehabilitate the highway by milling the old road surface and replacing it with new pavement. Improvements will also include new striping and pedestrian crossings.

Work will occur at night between the hours of 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. to reduce impacts to the traveling public and provide an opportunity for crews to work with minimal interruptions.

During working hours, traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction. During the day, two lanes will be open both northbound and southbound.

“Crews will use dust abatement methods to manage dust and dirt, but drivers should anticipate driving on a temporary gravel surface during construction activities,” explained Hunter.

In addition to milling and paving, vibratory rolling will also occur to compact the roadway. Vibration may be felt on nearby properties.

“We understand that the City of Hailey is a renowned tourist destination and we will be working closely with our crews to reduce impacts to the community as much as possible,” Hunter said.

Knife River is the primary contractor on this $3.4 million project

Second season begins for repairs in Wallace

Completed sidewalk in Wallace

One month of repairs to the historical guardrail along Front Street and the stone wall that channelizes the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River in Wallace will begin Monday, July 12. Crews are expected to work Monday through Thursday and will detour westbound traffic around the construction on Front Street. Eastbound traffic on Front Street and access to the interstate will not be affected.

Work this year will focus on adding the historical metal railing to the top of the concrete guardrail, extending more of the sidewalk and finishing the wall, which must be done by hand when the water table is low. Crews will build scaffolding over the river to collect debris and use as a work platform. The temporary pavement on Front Street will be replaced with permanent pavement as well.

Construction from July to November of 2020 successfully removed the old wall and added concrete guardrail and sidewalk.

ITD’s refinancing of GARVEE bonds shaves another $15.5M from debt; $41M saved so far

BOISE – Ever since the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) took the leap into the world of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonding more than 15 years ago to pay for needed highway projects, the department has sought ways to refinance and restructure that debt to be the best possible steward of taxpayer funds.

GARVEE bonding allowed ITD to build expansion projects the driving public needed now rather than have to wait decades for traditional funding methods.

Recently, and for the fourth time overall, the department refinanced GARVEE bonds in order to save on the debt repayment. This latest refinancing saves $15.5 million in debt payments over the life of the bonds. The four refinancings have saved an aggregate estimated $41 million.

GARVEE Program Manager Amy Schroeder and ITD Controller Dave Tolman worked with their teams to take advantage of low interest rates and refinance the 2011 bond series with the last GARVEE bonds sale from the 2017 authorization of $300 million.

The refinance of $61 million of the GARVEE series 2011A bonds at 1.1% resulted in a $15.5M savings. This refinancing took place at the same time as $159M in new bonds issued for project construction and financed at an interest rate of 2.33%.

Help prevent human-caused wildfires along roadways

With heat warnings in place throughout Idaho, widespread drought, and fire danger increasing, we can all do our part to help prevent human-caused wildfires. It only takes one spark from your vehicle to start a fire. Let’s work together to take the necessary precautions when traveling along Idaho highways this summer.

The next time you are going to hit the road, keep the following fire safety tips in mind:

  • Double check your trailer chains! Be sure they are not hanging low and dragging from your vehicle. The metal can throw sparks easily.
  • Take caution driving through dry grass or brush, and find a safer place to park! Hot exhaust pipes and heat from your vehicle can quickly catch the tall, dry grass on fire.
  • Watch your tire pressure. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.
  • Keep brake pads in shape. If they wear too thin, the metal on metal can make sparks.
  • Stay up to date on your vehicle maintenance. Leaking fluids and overheating engines can be dangerous fire hazards.
  • Idaho is too great to litter. Never throw cigarettes out the window.

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The Idaho Transportation Department takes precautions of its own to help prevent wildfires from starting near highways. For more than 10 years, ITD and the Bureau of Land Management have partnered each spring to conduct controlled burns along highways, targeting tumbleweed early before the dry fire season sets in. When the weather heats up, it doesn’t take much for this high risk fuel to take off. Mowing and controlled burns can significantly reduce fire threat by keeping fuels to a minimum.

ITD blocks the road and manages traffic to protect BLM firefighters during the burn. Water crews protect infrastructure and keep the fire under control. Watch the video to see it all in action!

 

Check with the Idaho Department of Lands, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management for the latest on fire danger in your area. Before you take your next road trip, be prepared and know what current fire restrictions are in place where you are headed. Learn more fire safety tips and find contact information at idahofireinfo.com. Current highway closures and blockages due to wildfire can also be found on 511.idaho.gov.

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.

 

 

Prepare for summer travel with the NEW Idaho 511

New & Improved 511 Road Report

As you make your summer travel plans be sure to check out the Idaho Transportation Department’s NEW Idaho 511! The streamlined low bandwidth Idaho 511 website, lb.511.idaho.gov, has now officially retired and the transition to the newest Idaho 511 traveler information website is complete.

Visit 511.idaho.gov to take a tour of the great features and be prepared for your next road trip! Cameras, road reports, traffic speeds, rest area locations, and more are listed in the layers menu on the right side of your screen. Check the boxes next to your preferred map icons to turn them on, and uncheck the boxes to turn off map icons.

On the left side of your screen (or below on a phone or tablet) scenic views, severe weather cameras, and critical events, road closures, or blockages are displayed as they are happening. These give you an instant look at current situations statewide that may have direct impact on your travel.

Saved and bookmarked links should redirect to the newest website, and personalized Your 511 accounts already made the switch in March. Log on now and start saving your favorite cameras and more!

Need some help navigating the new website? Use the onboarding tour to get your bearings and feel free to send us feedback.