Traffic safety grants available for Idaho communities

Have an idea that could improve traffic safety in your community? The Idaho Office of Highway Safety’s (OHS) FY2025 grant application opens today. Funding is available for programs that aim to change unsafe behaviors like distracted and impaired driving to help reduce death and serious injury on Idaho roads.

243* lives have already been lost this year, far exceeding the 215 traffic-related deaths in all of 2022. Idaho is on track to exceed our worst year in recent history, which was 273 lives lost in 2021. 2021 was the worst year for traffic fatalities since 2005.

“Locals know their communities best,” explained Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton. “We want this grant money to go to community organizations that will impact traffic safety in their neighborhoods most.”

Funding comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) federal grant program. Grants may be awarded for assisting OHS in targeting traffic safety focus areas, expanding ongoing activities, or developing a new program or intervention. Traffic safety focus areas include:

  • Impaired Driving
  • Aggressive Driving
  • Distracted Driving
  • Seatbelts
  • Child Passenger Safety
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
  • Motorcycle Safety
  • Young Drivers
  • EMS Post Crash Care

To apply for FY2025 funding, complete the Office of Highway Safety Grant Application.

The application and instructions are available on our website at under the ‘Grant Programs & Funding’ tab. This application is for year-long funding for FY2025 which begins Oct 1, 2024 and ends Sep 30, 2025.

The application must be received no later than 5 p.m. MST, Wednesday, January 31, 2024, via email: or by mail: ITD Office of Highway Safety, P.O. Box 7129, Boise ID 83707-1129. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

*Preliminary data, subject to change

Community invited to review options to improve State Highway 16 between Sh-44 and SH-52

Freezeout Hill

The Idaho Transportation Department is holding a public meeting on Monday, December 4 in Ada County and Wednesday, December 6 in Gem County. The community is invited to learn about the project, give input on issues and concerns, and provide feedback on a range of plans to improve SH-16.

Details for the in-person meetings are listed below:

  • Monday, December 4 at Eagle Christian Church (100 S Short Rd, Eagle, ID 83616)
  • Wednesday, December 6 at Emmett High School (721 W 12th St, Emmett, ID 83617)
  • 4:30 – 7 p.m. (drop in anytime)
  • Please join at whichever location is most convenient for you.

An online meeting will be available for those that are not able to attend the in-person meetings. The online meeting will be open from December 7 – 21 at

At the meetings, ITD will share details about:

  • The purpose and need for the environmental reevaluation.
  • Updated traffic and crash data information.
  • Modification to the 2005 preferred alternative.
  • The project timeline and next steps in the process.

“We look forward to sharing the range of modified improvement plans with the community and receiving their feedback,” said ITD Project Manager Mark Wasdahl. “Their input is very important to the reevaluation process and will help us moving forward.”

The SH-16, SH-44 to SH-52 project began in June 2023 and is expected to be complete in 2025. ITD has already met with numerous state and local agencies and property owners to identify concerns, discuss ongoing planning efforts and share information about the project.

To sign up for email updates or learn more about the project, please visit


Idaho high schoolers invited to experience simulated aircraft carrier

National Flight Academy Opportunity

High school students interested in experiencing life in the world’s largest simulated aircraft carrier are invited to apply through the end of January to the National Flight Academy for the event to be held June 9-14, 2024. The simulation will take place in Pensacola, Florida.

Availability is limited to 9th, 10th and 11th graders in the coming school year. Ten students will live for six days inside a 102,000 square foot, multi-story facility, surrounded by advanced technology, flight simulators, and virtual-reality games that ignite imagination and encourage learning.

The experience is designed to inspire interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This is a grant-funded program hosted by the Idaho Transportation Department in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration.

Students interested in applying should visit

Applications are due by Jan. 30, 2024. For more information, contact Jessika Doglietto at (208) 908-2190 or by email at

Students will be in the care of the National Flight Academy staff for the week and will not be permitted to leave. Cost of lodging, meals, and transportation for students is covered through the grant.


Jason Brinkman selected as new ITD Division Administrator District 3 Engineer

Jason Brinkman has been named the new District 3 Engineer by Director Stokes, rising to the top from among a strong group of candidates for the position. Brinkman has been part of the district management team as the Engineering Manager for Design & Construction since 2016. Previously he also served in statewide roles for the GARVEE bond program and Highways project delivery.  Brinkman replaces former District Engineer Caleb Lakey, who left ITD for the private sector in October.

Brinkman started with ITD in 2000 and spent his first few years in the department’s Engineer-in-Training program.  He also has prior experience working for residential construction and utility companies, and his father’s land surveying firm.  Brinkman has been a leader in project management, design, construction, maintenance and traffic operations, legal coordination, contract negotiations, large-scale program management, environmental, bridge delivery, and right of way solutions.  His over two decades with ITD have led to comprehensive understanding of agency governance, local partnerships, policies, district operations, customer service, and ITD strategic goals.

“With more than 25 years of experience, Jason Brinkman brings both field engineering and district management teamwork expertise on complex issues that will serve ITD employees and local partners well as District 3 Engineer,” said ITD Chief Deputy/Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “We appreciate his leadership and commitment to safety, innovation, and helping make ITD a great place to work.”

Brinkman, a native of Watertown, South Dakota, earned his Civil Engineering degree from North Dakota State University in 1999 and his Idaho Professional Engineer license in 2004. Jason lives in Boise with his wife Jill, also a professional engineer, and their two children.  When not practicing engineering, they enjoy rafting, hiking, biking, baseball/softball, and other outdoor pursuits.

Transportation excellence is a goal for Brinkman, who said of his new role, “I look forward to continuing to work with our many great partners and stakeholders as we maintain and improve our highways and bridges for all Idahoans.  We have exceptional District 3 employees, contractors, and consultants that it will be an honor to team with as district engineer to provide the safe and efficient transportation system we all rely on daily.”

New I-86 bridge opens at Chubbuck

A new three-lane Interstate 86 bridge at Chubbuck is now open as construction crews head into Thanksgiving week. The new bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad adds capacity, improves traffic flow, and is designed to last 80 years.

While the bridge is complete and open, work continues nearby with the installation of a new sound wall. In addition, paneling will be installed on the bridge to protect the railroad tracks from any debris falling off the bridge.

Crews will continue to work on the I-86/I-15 System Interchange through the winter months. The next major milestone is opening the new I-15 mainline roadway slated for mid-December. Following that contractors will begin demolition of the old I-15 bridges.

This week crews will work until noon Wednesday and return to the construction site on Monday. Still, it is important that drivers be safe while travelling through the System Interchange, particularly with increased holiday traffic.

“Please pay attention to construction signs, be courteous, follow posted speed limits, and drive safe so everyone can go home safely, including workers on the project,” Engineering Manager Aaron Baird said.

Idaho agencies prepare drivers for winter driving conditions throughout Idaho

An ITD snowplow.

As winter approaches with its inevitable challenges, it’s paramount that drivers prepare themselves to navigate tricky road conditions and minimize unnecessary risks during inclement weather. In a united effort, nearly 50 law enforcement and public safety agencies across Idaho are launching a Winter Driving safety campaign to educate the public about winter driving and snowplow safety. Additionally, statewide emphasis patrols will look for seat belt and impaired driving violations.

Idaho State Police Director Kedrick Wills emphasizes the significance of a collaborative effort, “Every action behind the wheel carries the weight of responsibility that we all share. As law enforcement professionals, we urge every driver to navigate winter roads carefully, respect the conditions, and never drive impaired. Winter driving demands heightened vigilance, so every journey ends with a safe return home.”

The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) pledged increased funding to support local law enforcement in enforcing seat belt violations. Disturbing collision data between 2015 and 2019 revealed that over half of the vehicle occupants killed in Idaho were not restrained, and 1,207 unrestrained individuals suffered critical injuries. While seat belt usage has improved, more than one in ten Idahoans neglect to buckle up. In 2019, 72% of those killed in single-vehicle fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts, underscoring the importance of this life-saving habit.

Josephine Middleton, Highway Safety Manager at ITD explained, “We want drivers to make plans for a sober ride home before they start drinking and remember that wearing a seatbelt is the best defense in a crash. Police are there to protect us from dangerous drivers, but our roads are made even safer when people make good choices before getting behind the wheel.”

In addition to seat belt enforcement, extra patrols will focus on combating impaired driving. Despite being entirely preventable, over 11,500 people lost their lives in drunk-driving incidents across the United States in 2020, equating to one death every 45 minutes. In Idaho, 92 people were killed in impaired collisions. It’s essential to recognize that impairment extends to any substance that hampers the ability to drive safely – various substances slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times. While officers enforce the law, it’s everyone’s job to prevent impaired driving.

Here are some critical steps to consider:

  • Plan ahead – Don’t drive impaired.
  • Arrange for a safe and sober ride home in advance.
  • Seek an alternative mode of transportation if you consume any impairing substances.
  • If someone is impaired, do not allow them to take the wheel.
  • Always wear a seat belt, as it is your primary defense against impaired drivers.


As winter weather is unpredictable and treacherous, drivers should prepare for adverse conditions. Statewide, more than 16,000 accidents occurred during inclement weather between October 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, with many attributed to unsafe driving in snow, ice, and wet conditions.

When traveling, let others know your plans – especially if driving through areas without cell service – and check in on arrival. Make safe winter driving a habit:

Adjust your driving to handle changing conditions:

  • Reduce your speed and drive at a safe pace.
  • Avoid driving into a storm; find a safe place off the road and wait.
  • Stay in your vehicle until visibility improves, even if an accident occurs.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Exercise caution around stopped or slow-moving vehicles.
  • Only pass or change lanes when necessary.

Prepare your vehicle:

  • Ensure you have a full tank of gas and windshield washer fluid.
  • Equip your vehicle with all-season or studded snow tires.
  • Carry chains, a tow rope, cat litter, or cardboard for emergency traction.
  • Have a blanket, warm clothing, shovel, jumper cables, and a windshield scraper on hand.
  • Prepare a first aid kit with a knife, flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, and cell phone charger.

Avoid distractions:

  • Stay focused on the road and remain vigilant for potential road hazards like animals and trees.
  • Take necessary breaks to combat fatigue.
  • Be mindful of hidden dangers like icy overpasses and bridges, open ground blizzards, hills, stoplights, signs, and ruts that may collect water.

Every year, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) deploys over 550 snowplow operators to clear over 3.4 million miles throughout Idaho. Ensure their safety:

Give snowplows ample space to work:

  • The best roadway is a safe distance behind a working plow.
  • Never pass on the right.

Know before you go:

  • Check the weather forecast before embarking on your journey.
  • Stay informed about Idaho Department of Transportation (IDT) winter road conditions at and monitor National Weather Service updates at

ITD brings state Christmas tree to Idaho’s Capitol on Monday

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) delivered Idaho’s state Christmas tree to the steps of the Capitol on Monday morning.

This year’s tree, which is always a blue spruce, stands at approximately 45 feet tall and will be cut down to around 35 feet tall before it is decorated with 11,000 LED lights.

The Boise Police Department will provide traffic control, and the Idaho Department of Lands will cut the tree down. The tree will be held upright by a crane until it is laid down on ITD’s 50-foot transport truck and from there taken to the Capitol. The tree will then be lowered into a 9-foot-hole that is designed for this very occasion.

ITD has been safely transporting Idaho’s Christmas tree for more than 20 years.

“We are honored to be part of a tradition that brings so much joy to Idahoans. We look forward to it every year,” Foreman Travis Dodd said.

This year and next year will be especially short trips for ITD as the trees will be harvested from behind the Capitol within the 600 block of West State Street. The Capitol administration team keeps a list of all the eligible trees people around the area want to donate, and in August the state’s Christmas tree is selected from that list. Last year’s tree came from Harrison Boulevard.

If you are headed to the mountains to get your own Christmas tree,  ITD wants to remind you to be prepared by having an emergency kit in your car that includes:

  • Flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Kitty litter
  • Chains
  • Small shovel
  • First aid kit
  • Food and water
  • Small sleeping bag or blanket, winter coat, gloves, waterproof boots
  • Ice scraper
  • Phone charger.

Before any winter travel, drivers should use or the Idaho 511 app to check road conditions, cameras, and weather reports before heading out to cut down a Christmas tree.

ITD truck & trailer for transporting the tree
The Christmas tree will be put on this transporter truck and then delivered to the Capitol.