US-20 Exit 332 in Rexburg to fully close Wednesday, May 29 for construction

Exit 332 on U.S. Highway 20 in Rexburg will completely close for one month beginning next Wednesday, May 29 to allow crews to quickly build a new unique diverging diamond interchange (DDI) that will greatly improve the flow of traffic.

All ramps at this exit and University Boulevard between the ramps will be closed to traffic and detoured to nearby interchanges. Through traffic on US-20 will be unaffected during construction.

Detours include Exit 328 at Thorton and Main Street Exit 333 in Rexburg. A temporary signal has been set up at Exit 333 to accommodate additional traffic. Access to businesses near Exit 332 will remain open with signage in place to direct drivers.

“Closing the exit allows crews to work at a significantly faster rate. Our goal is to have this interchange reopened before the Fourth of July,” Resident Engineer and Project Manager Conner Huffaker said.

Motorists should use caution and be aware of congestion. Crews will coordinate with emergency responders to ensure access through the closed construction zone when needed.

Once Exit 332 is reopened, work to construct the same DDI design at Exit 333 will begin. The closure of Exit 333 is expected to begin late July or early August.

More details about these projects can be found at itdprojects.idaho.gov/pages/us20rexburg. Also stay up to date on Idaho road conditions by visiting 551.idaho.gov, calling 5-1-1 or downloading the app.

87% of Idahoans wear their seat belt. Let’s make it 100%

A woman buckles her seat belt.

Eighty-seven percent of Idahoans wear their seat belt, according to the Idaho Office of Highway Safety’s (OHS) 2023 observational seatbelt survey. OHS and law enforcement partners across the state are encouraging all Idahoans to buckle up. From May 20 to June 2 expect to see more officers on the roads to educate drivers about the importance of wearing a seat belt.

Seat belts increase a person’s chances of surviving a crash by nearly 50 percent. Last year, 104* of the people killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing their seat belts – 52 of them could have survived had they all worn their seat belts.

While more crashes happen in urban areas, the fatality rate is higher on rural roads. Seat belt use is also lower in rural areas. To coincide with the statewide seat belt enforcement, OHS is launching a new campaign focused on rural road safety. The campaign includes radio ads featuring rural emergency medical service providers (EMS) from around the state. The launch also coincides with National EMS Week, which is marking it’s 50th anniversary this year.

In the ads, first responders explain what it’s like to respond to crashes in their close-knit communities. “In our rural area we usually know a lot of people, and it makes it really hard to have to pull a friend out of a vehicle,” said Christy, an EMT from Washington County in the ads. “We want to make sure everyone can keep making wonderful memories and arrive at their destination safely.”

EMS and post-crash care are a crucial part of safety on our roads. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that in 2021 nearly 9,000 people were ejected or partially ejected from vehicles during crashes. Seat belts play a huge role in preventing ejections and improving outcomes for people injured in crashes.

“EMTs are a crucial part of our communities. Let’s help them help us by wearing a seat belt,” urged Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton.

The goal of this campaign is to remind Idahoans that we need to be proactive about our own safety by simply buckling up.

*Preliminary Data

Construction continues on I-15 at Inkom

The Idaho Transportation Department is continuing work on the Interstate roadway and bridges from the south Inkom interchange to the Portneuf interchange. Ongoing work includes guardrail repair, paving, and patching and repairing bridge decks. In addition, crews are patching pier caps, applying epoxy overlays, and waterproofing parapets on the Rapid Creek, South Inkom interchange, and Portneuf River bridges.

Work is anticipated to continue through the end of June with single lane crossovers. Drivers are reminded to slow down in work zones, allow other vehicles to merge, and drive defensively.

Replacement of the West Inkom interchange, Union Pacific Railroad, and Main Street bridges are still planned for next year.

ITD Board approves funding for Snake River Crossing environmental analysis, and other traffic improvement efforts in the Magic Valley

Aerial shot of the Snake River Canyon

The Idaho Transportation Board approved a resolution today to begin next steps to enhance Magic Valley regional mobility including consideration of a third Snake River crossing near Twin Falls.

ITD was approved to utilize up to $9 million to initiate recommendations presented based on a feasibility study developed with stakeholder interviews, traffic evaluations, design reviews, and close coordination with the Third River Joint Powers Board, the city of Twin Falls, and the Magic Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization.

ITD Chief Deputy Director Dan McElhinney stated, “It takes strong regional partnerships that are united and persistent to bring a major bridge project to reality. All are here today in teamwork with ITD. There are significant, complicated environmental and design work ahead that will likely require creative funding solutions partnering over the next few years.”

The Snake River Crossing project will follow the National Environmental Policy Act procedures over the next two years with ITD engaging many stakeholders, initiating field studies and preliminary design on alternatives to consider. Once a NEPA document is complete a preferred alternative can be selected, as efforts continue to identify funding for construction.

In addition to the potential for a new bridge over the Snake River, the process will include consideration of other improvements to ease congestion and enhance connectivity, such as:

  • Widen existing bridges on US-30 and SH-46.
  • Extend SH-79 or SH-25 south of Jerome across the canyon to US-93.

Other projects will also move forward, including:

  • Widening or replacement of the SH-50 Hansen Bridge and widening five miles of SH-50.
  • Traffic mobility improvements to the intersection of US-93 (Pole Line Road) and Blue Lakes Boulevard.

ITD District 4 Engineer Jesse Barrus said, “All of these near and long term improvement considerations will help provide this growing region with important mobility alternatives as our existing transportation system continues to experience more traffic demand.”

ITD installing sensors at Idaho Ports of Entry to find damaged tires

A damaged outside tire on a semitruck.

A tire blowout on a semitruck traveling at highway speeds can be dangerous, even deadly. As part of the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) ongoing commitment to safety, the agency will begin installing Tire Anomaly and Classification (TAC) Systems at Ports of Entry (POE) around the state.

Ports of Entry inspect commercial vehicles and oversee their safe operation on Idaho roads. TAC systems are installed in the road and screen semitruck tires for anomalies and damage. Port employees can use the TAC data to notify truck drivers of damaged or underinflated tires before they cause a safety problem.

Idaho’s first TAC system was installed at the Declo POE in February 2023. Over 1,100 tire anomalies have been detected since the system went live.

“Installing TAC systems is a proactive approach to safety,” explained ITD Commercial Vehicle Services Manager Craig Roberts. “The driving public is much safer when commercial vehicles with tire issues are stopped to correct blowouts, flats, or missing tires.”

The TAC installation schedule is as follows:

  • East Boise POE in both directions, week of May 28.
  • Lewiston POE in both directions, week of July 15.
  • Sage POE in both directions, tentatively late July or early August depending on other road construction in the area.
  • Huetter POE in both directions, tentatively August depending on other road construction in the area.
  • Inkom POE will have a phased installation. Southbound is to be completed in June. Northbound is to be completed next year during work on the Inkom interchange.

The cost for all the new TAC systems combined is $1.2 million. In 2022, the economic cost of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles in Idaho was over $627 million.

A damaged inside tire on a semitruck. A damaged inside tire on a semitruck.

Pictured above: Tires caught by the TAC system.

Crews prepare to pave near Aht’Wy Plaza this month

Crews place concrete panels with a crane at the Aht'Wy Interchange.

Motorists should expect minor traffic changes on U.S. Highway 95 and U.S. Highway 12 at Aht’Wy Plaza near the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge as early as next week as crews prepare to pave the highway and ramps. The ongoing construction will shift in anticipation of paving operations:

  • May 13 – May 15: Concrete barrier will be removed in the center and moved to the outside of the traveling lanes. Traffic will be pushed to the outside lanes with one lane in each direction.
  • May 18: Paving will commence and take an estimated five days to complete. Traffic will shift from the inside lanes to outside lanes and vise versa. Please note the temporary entrance on the west side of the RV park will close. During this time, motorists trying to head north or south will leave the plaza at the east entrance.
  • May 23: Crews will restripe two lanes in both directions. Only one lane will be striped at a time during this switch. Traffic will switch periodically from the fast lane to the slow lane in both directions during the painting.
  • May 24: Traffic will be restored back to one lane in each direction. The temporary entrance on the west side will re-open in anticipation of Memorial Day Weekend.

The interchange is scheduled for completion in mid-November and will provide safer access to Aht’Wy Plaza by providing uninterrupted movement off and over the highway.

Live traffic impacts like these can be found by visiting 511.idaho.gov. Travelers can also dial 5-1-1 or download the app

Students showcase artistic skills to win Idaho Aviation Art Contest

16-18 years 1st place | Artwork by Kate

A dozen Idaho students ages 5 to 18 recently had their artwork selected to win the 2024 Aviation Art Contest through the Idaho Division of Aeronautics.

The contest was held this spring, with submitted artwork depicting the theme “Careers in Aerospace.”

Winners and runners-up were chosen in each of five age-group categories. The first- and second-place winners will receive the following awards/recognition:

  • First place winners:
    • Invitation to ride in an airplane
    • Copy of their artwork signed by our Governor
    • Congratulatory letter
  • Second place winners:
    • Receive $25 in art supplies
    • Congratulatory letter

Improvements start late May on SH-33 near Victor

Simple map of where a passing and center turn lane will be constructed on SH-33.

Starting in late May the Idaho Transportation Department will widen State Highway 33 near Victor to include a passing lane, center turn lane, and right turn lanes. Construction is anticipated to start on May 20.

Motorists can plan on one lane remaining open throughout construction, which is expected to last until early to mid-September. Fifteen-minute wait times between milepost 151 and 153 may occur as flaggers direct traffic. Cones will be moved out of the way of traffic each night, and all lanes will be open.

A new passing lane for eastbound traffic between milepost 151 and 152 will improve the flow of traffic on SH-33 before motorists begin to traverse Teton Pass. A center turn lane will continue after the passing lane to make it easier for drivers to access area subdivisions and Trail Creek Community Pond. Baseline Road will also be realigned to improve visibility at the intersection of SH-33.

Old cattle underpasses that are no longer used exist in three different areas along SH-33 where this work will be done. This means crews need to remove old cement structures, excavate the ground down eight feet and then rebuild one foot at a time to ensure road integrity. Motorists will note additional time spent on those sections of work, with crews present in those areas for longer and flaggers remaining overnight.

This project is made possible through a grant obtained by Teton County of Wyoming in partnership with ITD, Teton County of Idaho, the town of Jackson, the city of Driggs and others. Information about additional planned improvements through the grant can be found at tetonbuildgrant.com.

Stay up to date on the status of this project and others by visiting 511.idaho.gov, calling 5-1-1 or downloading the app.

ITD to host open house on US-30 (Gould Street) in Pocatello

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) invites the public to an open house on Tuesday to comment on proposed improvements to make U.S. Highway 30 safer and address growing traffic in Pocatello.

Improvements are planned for US-30 between the intersections of Yellowstone Avenue and Oak Street and the Gould Street overpass and Garrett Way.

The open house will be from 5-7 p.m. at the Pocatello Streets Department Office at 2405 Garrett Way.

In 2018, ITD completed a study to analyze safety issues, traffic, geometrics, and community needs. Extensive traffic analyses, stakeholder meetings, and steering committee meetings were conducted as part of the study. The results of the study identified significant corridor improvements. In 2023, design began on the improvements, which address:

  • Intersection operation and safety at Yellowstone Ave, McKinley Ave, and Garrett Way.
  • An additional turn lane from Gould Street onto Garrett Way to improve signal operations and mobility through the corridor.
  • Accesses safety
  • Corridor-wide pedestrian facilities
  • Stormwater collection
  • Corridor-wide landscaping

Construction is scheduled for 2027.

“This is an important project for the traveling public in Pocatello,” Project Manager Kevin Sonico said. “These improvements will address the growth in the area and improve safety by addressing lane utilization issues and capacity issues in the corridor. People can stop by any time on Tuesday to learn more about the project and ask questions.”

For those who cannot attend the public meeting on May 7, ITD will post meeting displays on the project website at itdprojects.idaho.gov/pages/us-30-yellowstone-to-garrett-way. Comments will be received until June 5 and can be submitted at the meeting, online or by emailing agumm@jub.com.