Get to know your Idaho with ITD’s free historical photo archive

BOISE – The history of Idaho is very much intertwined with the history of our highways and roads. Early pioneers built the Gem State by carving highways and byways into our diverse landscape. From rolling hills, fertile plains, and lush meadows, to stark desert and rugged mountains, highways connect them all.

You now have the opportunity to uncover that early highway history – Idaho’s heritage — through a free online archive of more than 30,000 historical images.

ITD’s free photo collection is at itd.idaho.gov/photohistory.

Accessing the photos is simple. Just go to the site, enter your search criteria (name and location of the photo you want), then download the results in whatever size you need. Here’s a short video to walk you through the process.

May is Historic Preservation Month, so what better time to unveil this new service? Travel back in time and get to know your Idaho!

ITD Director Brian Ness named to Transportation Research Board Executive Committee

Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness was recently named to the Executive Committee of the 2018 Transportation Research Board (TRB). The TRB is a unit of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and serves as an independent adviser to the President of the United States, the Congress, and federal and state agencies on scientific and technical transportation issues of national importance.

Ness, who has been ITD Director since 2010, serves as the chair of the Research & Innovation Committee for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and chaired AASHTO’s Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management (SCOTSEM) until August 2017. Through his leadership of SCOTSEM, Mr. Ness achieved national recognition for applying his organizational model to emergency management and security, which has helped reshape the group’s strategic plan.

Ness was President of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) in 2016. In this position, he served as a regional representative to AASHTO’s Executive Committee. In addition, he sponsors the WASHTO Highway Transport Committee. He is also the creator and sponsor of WASHTO’s Emerging Leaders Program, which he also brought to ITD.

Ness is a nationally recognized authority on organizational realignment and speaks regularly at national conferences for both the public and private sectors about how to structure a more effective and accountable state government. He leads a seminar each year on his “Nine Steps to a Results-Focused Culture” for the National Transportation Leadership Institute’s (NTLI) senior and executive-level management courses.

Ness was honored in 2012 as Leader of the Year by the Treasure Valley chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar, and named Trine University’s (formerly Tri-State University) 2014 Alumni of the Year.  He received the 2016 Navigator Award from Route Fifty. The award, in the “Agency and Department Chiefs” category, is based on his citizen-focused approach to government and transformative style. In 2013, ITD earned AASHTO’s President’s Award for Administration for its realignment efforts.

Since Ness joined the department, ITD has received nearly 100 national awards for its people, programs and projects, including the prestigious Francis B. Francois Award for Innovation.

Under his leadership, ITD began an employee-driven innovation program in 2014. Since that time, the department has implemented more than 860 innovations, saved nearly $5.2 million, created 500 customer-service improvements, and saved about 187,000 contractor and employee hours.

The department was recognized in 2016 by the Idaho Technology Council as a finalist for Innovative Company of the Year.

Ness earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tri-State University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. He is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and Idaho. Before becoming director at ITD, he worked for 30 years at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), holding a variety of positions in research, operations, aeronautics, construction, and project development.

 

 

ITD, other community partners in saving lives honored at Donate Life event

Idaho has consistently been one of the top states in the nation when it comes to saying yes to saving lives. These achievements are due in large part to hard work and collaboration. An event celebrating these partnerships and commemorating these successes was held Thursday (April 12) at the Idaho Transportation Department’s Boise office.

Watch a short video of the event

At the event Thursday, the “Yes Idaho” Donate Life Coalition honored local community partners who have been an integral part of saving lives through organ donation. ITD has been crucial in the success of donation in Idaho during the last 20 years through organ donation notifications on drivers licenses.

Many of those partners spoke or were recognized at the event, where the group also unveiled the 2018 Threads of Life Quilt. The quilt was created with individual squares made by people with a personal connection to donation. Many squares honored a loved one who made the decision to donate or to celebrate the life of a transplant recipient.

Community partners recognized included:

The Idaho Transportation Department – Thanks to ITD’s help, the registry grew by 5.2% in 2017, to 64% of the population vs. 2016 census estimate. The national average is 54%. Idaho has 800,000 drivers who chose organ donation on their Idaho licenses.

Senator Lee Heider – Senator Heider has been at advocate for donation for several years. This year, he sponsored two bills related to this topic that became law.
S1249: This legislation instructs institutions of higher education to send a link to the Yes Idaho Donor Registry to their students twice each year.
S1250: Provides for a reminder email to be sent to state employees reminding them that the state of Idaho provides 30 days paid leave for any state employee donating a kidney.

Lillie Kaster — A donor mother who honored the memory of her son by educating the public about the importance of donation. She has reached out to rodeo royalty and recruited ambassadors for donation. They carry a “Yes Idaho” flag in parades while on horseback and speak at public events, sharing the message of donation.

KTVB Channel 7 – The media partner ran a series of stories last spring and four more last fall profiling people and their families touched by organ donation.

There are almost 300 people in Idaho currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. We are very grateful to our community partners for their dedication to saving the lives of those who are waiting. For more information about organ, eye and tissue donation, please log on to the “Yes Idaho” website.

Monet flutters record 662 miles from Idaho to California

A monarch butterfly named Monet, reared by Melinda Lowe of ITD’s Environmental Section, recently made history by completing a flight from Lowe’s Treasure Valley home to a swimming pool in California.

The monarch (Danaus plexippus) set out from Boise on Sept. 4, 2017, and was rescued from the pool March 2, 2018.

Biologists studying the movements of the declining species tracked the monarch by the research tag placed on her wing (see photo below). It is the first documented case of a monarch, tagged as part of Washington State University’s program, to make the journey from Idaho to California.

The monarch was reared in Idaho by Lowe, who brought her home in early August 2017. Lowe had a butterfly cage specially built for her, where Monet grew fat and happy. eating freshly picked showy milkweed leaves (see photo at right).

After a month, Monet emerged from her chrysalis and became a California-bound butterfly that Lowe released that evening, just four hours later.

“She immediately flew up and out of the yard and toward the west. “I flapped my hand waving goodbye. Such a bittersweet moment,” Lowe said.

The butterfly, officially named B1861, flew approximately 662 miles southwest and into southern California before settling in the greater Santa Barbara area.

“This is big news. Monet is the first Idaho monarch in my study to be recovered in California, and at six months of age, she is the longest-lived monarch documented in this Washington State University tagging effort,” said Dr. David James, an associate professor at WSU specializing in invertebrate conservation. “Monet will go down in Idaho monarch history, that’s for sure.”

The California homeowner found the butterfly a few hundred yards from a known overwintering site where the female butterfly likely spent the winter. After fishing her from the pool, the homeowner released the butterfly, which apparently was fine after the near-death experience. The homeowner then contacted Dr. James, who in turn contacted Lowe.

“Hopefully, she is now heading inland from Goleta, California, with dry wings seeking milkweed to lay her eggs,” said Dr. James.

The monarch butterfly is a national priority species for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Community-based projects in Idaho’s Treasure Valley and throughout the country are helping to enhance and restore habitat to benefit the monarch. This beautiful orange and black species is known for migration between its over-wintering grounds in central Mexico and California, to its spring and summer breeding grounds in the northern and interior portions of the United States and Canada. This butterfly requires milkweed plants to reproduce, and female monarchs will only lay eggs on milkweeds. Native milkweeds are the primary food sources for monarch caterpillars.

Monarch butterflies and other pollinators are in trouble. The decline of these species may be attributed to habitat fragmentation, urban and agricultural development, pesticide use and lack of nectar plants for food. In the case of the migratory monarch, the lack of native milkweed is believed to be a critical limiting factor.

Learn more about our efforts to save the monarch at https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/

ITD’s Buehrig building Bridges to Prosperity  

Opportunities like the one in front of ITD’s Alan Buehrig are few and far between.

Buehrig, an ITD Bridge Engineer for the last two years, is leaving March 16 to travel to Panama for two weeks to participate in the Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) program.

Alan (pictured above at left) will be the Safety Officer on the project. A group of about 10 people from other departments of transportation, and representing private-engineering firms, contractors, and fabricators, also are going.

Buehrig’s group will construct a steel suspension bridge — the 100-foot span will connect a portion of the community to the outside roadway. The bridge will provide safe pedestrian access across the Rio Tuancle (from one side of the community to the other) year-round, especially important during the rainy season when the river swells dramatically.
Building the bridges over impassable rivers in isolated communities creates access for residents to school, markets, health clinics, and greater economic opportunity.

B2P’s founder, Ken Frantz, started the nonprofit organization in 2001 after seeing a photo in National Geographic of folks in war-torn Ethiopia struggling to get access to needed services by crossing the Blue Nile River.

See link for history of B2P: https://www.bridgestoprosperity.org/who-we-are

“This is a unique opportunity to contribute to B2P’s extraordinary mission,” Buehrig said.  “I chose to become a civil engineer out of a desire to build meaningful infrastructure that directly improves people’s lives, and this definitely fits those goals.

“I also hope to broaden my knowledge of other cultures and to become a better engineer through working side by side with others across the bridge industry.”

The bridge is being built in El Macho, a small spread-out village of some 300 people located about 320 kilometers west of Panama City.

B2P is already on site, working with the local community to build the foundations. A few community volunteers are already working on it. It is B2P’s goal is to complete these projects in collaboration with the local communities.

In 2017, the NSBA (National Steel Bridge Alliance) gave a presentation to the ITD Bridge section about the program, and encouraged interested volunteers to reach out to NSBA.

Buehrig was intrigued.

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Buehrig’s Bridges to Prosperity trip delayed

On the eve of his trip to Panama with the Bridges to Prosperity program, Buehrig had his plan scuttled due to unforeseen emergent circumstances.

Paving awards are big win for north Idaho projects and drivers

COEUR D’ALENE – Three north Idaho projects received recognition from the National Asphalt and Paving Association just before Christmas for high-quality paving, signifying a big win for the Idaho Transportation Department, the contractor (Poe Asphalt Paving Inc.), and most importantly, the region’s drivers.

Paving for the second stage of US-95 near Sheep Creek, US-95 near Cougar Creek, and (pictured above) Sherman Avenue to Blue Creek Bay Bridge on Interstate 90 earned Quality in Construction awards.

“Our project managers and materials engineers work with contractors to ensure that the public receives a high-quality product,” said Marvin Fenn, an ITD engineering manager in north Idaho.

Awards were based on asphalt samples submitted to the National Center for Asphalt Technology in Alabama and reviewed for deviations and for consistency.

“Collaborating with ITD engineers is always a positive experience,” said Brian Poe, a project manager for Poe Asphalt and Paving in Post Falls. “It is great to work with a team that wants to deliver the best projects for the traveling public.”

$500k available from Idaho ADA curb ramp program in $60k grants

 

Individual grants of up to $60,000 are available to Idaho organizations statewide through a competitive application process ending March 2 for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Curb Ramp Program. In total, the Idaho Transportation Department will allocate $500,000 of state funds for this program.

Local jurisdictions (cities, counties and highway districts) and tribal governments are eligible to apply. Applications are available on the Idaho Transportation Department website at http://itd.idaho.gov/alt-programs/, under the ADA Curb Ramp Program tab on the left-hand side of the page.

The goal of the program is to partner with local agencies to provide accessible facilities for all pedestrians, especially those with disabilities.

Those applying in 2018 should be prepared to begin construction in May 2019.  Project construction must be completed within two years of the execution of the Cooperative Agreement.

The Idaho ADA Curb Ramp Program is a state-administered program providing funding for projects to build or correct curb ramps on the state highway system.

Applications are evaluated by ITD, the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council and the Idaho Division of the Federal Highway Administration.

Completed applications should be sent to ITDAltContracting@itd.idaho.gov

Top 2017 innovations feature safety, cost savings and more

The Idaho Transportation Department’s ongoing innovation initiative, now in its fourth year, has already shown some impressive results. The program has so far saved Idaho taxpayers $5.1 million in efficiencies that are applied directly back into maintenance and repair of the state’s roads and bridges. Along the way, the innovations have improved customer service, enhanced mobility, and directly impacted safety for highway workers and the traveling public.

ITD’s emphasis on innovation features a statewide employee-driven effort with a premium on finding safer, easier and less expensive solutions. The 2017 Best of the Best competition spotlights innovations in each of seven categories central to the department’s main goals: safety, mobility, economic opportunity, customer service, employee development, time savings and cost savings.

“It is so exciting to celebrate every employee’s efforts to make things just a little bit safer or better in some way,” said ITD Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur. “Recognizing the spirit of innovation in every employee is what Innovate ITD! is about.

Since the program began in 2014, ITD has:

• Received 1,120 ideas from employees
• Implemented 760 innovations
• Generated savings and efficiency improvements of $5.1 million*
• Realized 170,000 contractor and employee hours saved
• Created 420 customer-service improvements.

* The savings in time and money are being used to maintain roads and bridges and provide better customer service.

Here are the seven category winners in ITD’s Best of the Best 2017 – Watch the Best of the Best video:

SAFETY
For the safety category, ITD’s south-central Idaho office began by improving the nighttime visibility of delineator posts. Safety can be dicey on Idaho’s many rural roads.

On tight turns, you might see a series of yellow signs with black chevrons warning drivers, or a row of standard markers or reflectors showing a hazard ahead. In some locations, that’s not always enough.

D4’s James Bennett created a low-cost option to assist drivers in recognizing the change in direction of travel. A series of these posts can be installed within a couple hours.

Watch curve delineation video

CUSTOMER SERVICE
In the Customer Service category, the winning idea uses 3D renderings to drive better public understanding.

ITD is using new technology to help the public and stakeholders better grasp complex bridge replacements, visualize what ITD is trying to accomplish, and understand how the new bridges will fit into the town’s aesthetics or existing environment.

By using 3D bridge renderings and animations, ITD is better able to communicate project complexities and alleviate frustrations. This has been very popular and proven extremely beneficial on several high-profile projects where the 3D renderings and animations were fundamental to understanding project goals and outcomes.

Having a 3D visual makes it come to life for people, and helps reduce controversy by clearing up misunderstandings.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
The winner is an idea to provide alternatives to load-posting bridges.

An innovation developed by ITD Bridge Asset Management provides local bridge owners with options when faced with deterioration, so a particular bridge can remain open and unrestricted to legal vehicle loads, rather than simply giving load-posting requirements.

The goal is to keep local bridges open and unrestricted to vehicle traffic, which supports ITD’s mission. It improves the lives of Idaho citizens by safely ensuring mobility is uninterrupted and business can transport goods and services in less time.

COST SAVINGS
Mechanic Brandon Thurber and colleagues in ITD’s D6 shop lamented that aluminum valves, floor plates, and mounting covers on truck frames were replaced twice a year because of salt corrosion. So, they began investigating ways to preserve shed trucks.

One day they discovered that spraying the components with varnish preserved the metal, reducing corrosion and replacement costs.

Total annual replacement cost for the rusted-out components was about $48,000 — $800 for each of the district’s 60 trucks. By using the varnish, that cost can be cut by $40,000 per year.

MOBILITY
In this category, the 2017 winner was magnetic.

A simple idea out of the south-central Idaho office could help prevent flat tires with a giant magnetic sweeper bar mounted to a patrol vehicle. Best of all, the innovation will help both the general driving public AND department employees.

D.J. Price of D4 got the idea when looking at the punctured casings of several blown tires about 100 yards away from a mess of nails on the road.

ITD trucks were a logical choice – they are already out on the road.

TIME SAVINGS
The 2017 winner is an innovation to streamline purchases.

Step into the typical ITD shed and you’ll find hundreds of tools, parts, and pieces of equipment. Staying on top of that list can be a logistical nightmare.

So, an ITD team worked on solutions to streamline the process. They created standardized digital forms with some auto-fill fields and drop-down menus to speed up the process. They also found it made sense to open up the approval process. Only orders more than $10,000 need to be approved by a supervisor.

With a new protocol in place and vending machines for supplies getting installed across the state, the solution is on track to save thousands of labor hours.

EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT
This year’s winner provides a career-development path for ITD maintenance workers.

Already seeing an influx of new Transportation Techs and anticipating even more in coming years, ITD’s eastern Idaho office developed a “TTO Boot Camp” to get new employees trained on the basic elements of the maintenance program and acclimated to a career at ITD. Having consistent training across each regional foreman area also gave these newcomers a kick start to their development and effectiveness. To ease the on-boarding process, the department also paired a mentor with the new employees.

ITD is providing a higher level of service to employees, and those skills can then be applied to service to the public on roadways.

Those are ITD’s 2017 Best of the Best winners, showcasing how innovative thinking can improve products and services and make the most of taxpayer funds.

District 6 celebrates US-20 improvements with $10,000 for Cystic Fibrosis

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) donated $10,000 to the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at a ceremony at the Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho October 10. The prize money came to ITD when the Thornton project won the America’s Transportation Awards public vote earlier this fall.

Pictured (L to R): Scott, Lina and Kim Robinson present the donation to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation representative Joe Wojciechowski. District Engineer Jason Minzghor (far right) served as event emcee.

Watch the video of the event.

Now 20, Lina Robinson (daughter of D6 Maintenance Foreman Scott Robinson) has suffered with Cystic Fibrosis since birth.

So far, there is no cure for the disease. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation supports a wide range of research that focuses on the hunt for a cure and improving the quality of life for patients. The disease afflicts roughly 70,000 people worldwide.

“With this donation, we are partnering with the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” said ITD District 6 Engineer Jason Minzghor. “ITD is pleased to be able to contribute and, in this small way, be of assistance to Lina and others who deal with the genetic disease.”

“The disease is a steady challenge,” Lina said. “I have learned to accept the treatment requirements. A number of medical advances over the years have improved my quality of life. The biggest challenge is trying to fit the treatments into my busy schedule.”
Lina Robinson

The Thornton Interchange on U.S. 20 south of Rexburg opened Nov. 18, 2016, marking completion of all the work needed to make the corridor a safe, modern highway. District 6 has completed 20 years of work along the 34-mile stretch of highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City, closing 18 at-grade (level) intersections and constructing seven full interchanges.

Despite traffic volumes more than doubling while the new interchanges were being built, the safety improvements decreased serious-injury crashes by 75% and reduced fatalities to less than one per year. Improvements furthered ITD’s mission of safety, mobility and economic opportunity for the traveling public, saving lives and reducing property damage.

Innovation in design and the safety that resulted from construction of the new interchange has been widely recognized, with the project winning three prestigious awards:

1. President’s Transportation Award for Highway Traffic Safety – American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

2. “People’s Choice” Award – America’s Transportation Awards.

3. Best Use of Technology and Innovation – Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO).

Idaho Transportation Department refinances GARVEE to save $13.1 million for taxpayers

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will save approximately $13.1 million in interest costs on GARVEE highway bonds. ITD worked with the Idaho Housing and Finance Association to refinance $101 million of debt by reducing interest rates from 4.5% to 2.3% on those bonds.

This is the second refinancing of GARVEE bonds completed by ITD and IHFA as part of the continuing management of this program. The first, in 2015, resulted in $12.7 million in savings.

“Through GARVEE, we are investing wisely by spending the money now to solve the transportation problems of tomorrow. We are paying less than the anticipated cost of inflation for the same construction work in years to come,” said ITD Director Brian Ness. “The GARVEE program on the whole is another example of ITD being as efficient as possible by saving money, stretching resources, and reinvesting savings back into the maintenance of our roads and bridges.”

GARVEE bonds allow ITD to finance much-needed road and bridgework, with the promise to pay back the borrowed capital during the next 18 years.

“ITD continues to look for opportunities to take advantage of favorable market conditions and ensure that we are managing our finances wisely for the taxpayers of Idaho,” said department Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur. “We apply those savings back to maintenance and improvement of our roads and bridges.”

GARVEE bonds have paid for approximately $857 million in road and bridge work in the last 10 years, including 119 miles of new roadway, 41 new or rebuilt bridges, and 14 new or rebuilt interchanges.

The Idaho Legislature approved an additional $300 million in GARVEE bonding authority during their last session, and the Idaho Transportation Board has already started to direct some of that funding toward needed projects in the Treasure Valley and in northern Idaho.

McArthur also credited ITD Controller Dave Tolman for his diligence in managing the financing transaction and work with external partners. “The ITD team will continue to monitor the market and work with our partners to identify future opportunities,” she said.