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Data were compiled from historic archives, information provided by ITD geotechnical staff and district geologists, unpublished IGS field observations, analysis of LiDAR imagery, remote sensing, satellite images, and newly mapped landslides.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

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%.

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.

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

ID-55 Smiths Ferry project transitions to summer work schedule

Spring construction is wrapping up on Idaho Highway 55 between Smiths Ferry and Rainbow Bridge. Thursday, May 27th marks the last day of planned full road closures until September. Friday through Monday during the Memorial Day weekend, both lanes of the highway will be open. Then Tuesday, June 1st, our summer construction schedule begins.

This project will help improve safety and mobility for drivers by widening shoulders, minimizing roadway curves, and installing guardrail in certain locations.

“Our spring construction started in mid-March, and with full road closures Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. crews were able to safely blast rock away from the hillside,” said Project Engineer Alex Deduck. “In two and a half months crews excavated and removed nearly 55,000 cubic yards of material, that’s more than 4,500 truckloads. We’re close to a third of the way through the project now and appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we make this a safer drive.”

Crews will continue their work on the highway this summer. June 1 through Labor Day drivers should plan for one-lane alternating traffic day and night Monday through early Friday morning. Both lanes will be open on weekends Friday through Sunday to accommodate busy summer travel.

Watch the video below to see the progress made so far.

Be the first to know project updates by signing up for our text alerts and emails. Just visit our website or text the word “alerts” to 833-480-0255. Project representatives are available 24/7 to answer your questions.

Thank you for your patience as we improve the safety and mobility of ID-55.

Idaho Transportation Department kicks off Work Zone Awareness Week: April 26-30

road construction workers

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is joining states across the country to promote National Work Zone Awareness Week April 26-30, 2021. The national and state campaigns are designed to raise awareness and educate the public about the safety measures we can all take in work zones, and how we are all responsible for work zone safety

In 2020 Idaho saw 753 crashes in work zones resulting in five deathsstressing the need for this year’s campaign: Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives. 

“Because work zones are congested and busy it’s so important that drivers stay alert and avoid distractions,” said Idaho State Police Trooper Tauna Davis. “In a work zone, the margin for error shrinks. With workers alongside the roadway, consequences of distracted driving can be especially serious, and none of us want that.”

For over 20 years, National Work Zone Awareness Week has been held in April at the traditional start of construction season when highway projects increase. This year, ITD is using its Facebook and Instagram accounts in lieu of public events to remind everyone that construction workers are our neighbors, family members, and friends.  

“Watching for signs and following the direction they give us is what keeps all of us safe in work zones,” said Idaho State Police Corporal Scott Bolen. “The people in the work zones, from flaggers to engineers and equipment operators, are working to make the road safer and they count on all of us to keep them safe by slowing down and following the direction of signs and barriers. If we just stay focused and patient through a work zone, we’ll all be safely on our way.” 

Since 1960, 40 workers have lost their lives on the job in Idaho. Every one of the fallen workers left behind family, friends, and co-workers who miss them to this day. 

Though workers are often victims of work zone crashes, the dangers of reckless and distracted driving more often affect those behind the wheel. According to the Federal Highway Administration, four out of five work zone fatalities were drivers or passengers. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone or do not pay attention to the changing road conditions and drive off the road, or run into other vehicles, highway equipment, or safety barriers. 

How can you help?

Work zone crashes are preventable. The top three causes of crashes are following too closely, speeding, and distracted driving. 

When approaching a work zone please remember to: 

Slow Down – drive the posted speed limits 

Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic 

Plan Ahead  Check 511.idaho.gov before you go to plan your route. Expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible

“Every highway worker out there is someone’s parent, child, spouse, sibling, or friend,” reiterated ITD’s Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “Their job is to maintain and enhance our traveling experience while keeping everyone safe while doing so. As drivers we all should be work zone safe because they deserve to return home each day to their loved ones.” 

Rock Creek bridge work benefiting wildlife and economy wins ACEC Engineering Award

The replacement of the US-20 culvert at Rock Creek with a bridge and the resulting environmental and economic improvements recently won second place in the Engineering Excellence awards in the American Civil Engineers Council (ACEC) of Idaho annual awards, Water Resources Category in partnership with design firm Jacobs Engineering.

The project finished in December 2020. ITD was notified of the award on Jan. 14, 2021.

The bridge was recently constructed on US-20 in south-central Idaho where only a culvert previously existed. The multi-plate culvert at Rock Creek had reached the end of its useful life and was showing signs of compromise in the flowline. The decision to construct a new bridge to replace the culvert over Rock Creek also addressed other needs. First and foremost, the new bridge remedied the failing multi-plate culverts. The bridge also aided in safety by removing the steep roadway slope section, which had created erosion and maintenance challenge.

ITD was able to restore the streams to a more natural condition, which in turn should have a positive effect on the surrounding ecosystem. Building the bridge had less of an impact on the environment than replacing the existing multi-plate culvert. In addition, the new bridge will aid in restoring the habitat to allow unrestricted migration of wildlife and flow of the waterways. Establishing the stream channel under the new bridge helped restore the stream for habitat and encourage safe fish passage under the highway.

Allowing wildlife to pass under the highway also reduces the risk of possible accidents involving wildlife and motorists on the roadway. This section of US-20 has seen 64 vehicle-wildlife collisions over the last five years, which has a societal cost of approximately $2 million when you consider vehicle repair or replacement, medical bills, and raised insurance rates.

This was one of ITD’s first projects incorporating Fabric Encapsulated Soil Lifts (FESL) into a design, an innovative way to efficiently ensure streambank stability during multiple water levels. The FESL allowed ITD to create a stable bank while still promoting vegetative growth.

The project has already improved the environment while enhancing the safety and the natural beauty of the project area. Just a few months after construction, fish were seen swimming upstream to spawn, while several deer (and a moose) were seen traveling ong the channels under the bridges.

The economic impact of the work is also significant, as US-20 is one of the longest routes connecting east and west Idaho in support of oversized commercial traffic

Check out the new Idaho 511

New & Improved 511 Road Report

Idaho 511 is a valuable resource for travelers all year long, and now our newest version of the website has officially launched! Take some time to get familiar with the layout and check out the features.

Head to 511.idaho.gov to try out the latest Idaho 511. Your favorite features from our “Full Featured” website are all still there, including the cameras, road reports, traffic speeds, and more. However, now you will find them 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 map icons off.

New map layers include Waze Reports, which are citizen road reports from Waze App users, as well as a variety of weather related options. Putting a checkmark in the Weather Radar box for example, will show you where precipitation is falling across the state.

On the left side of your screen (or below on a phone or tablet) 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.

With a Your 511 personalized account, you can also choose to save your favorite cameras now, in addition to your favorite routes and places. And when zoomed out on the map, multiple cameras or events in one specific area will group together to display in a “cluster.” This grey or green circle shows the number of cameras or events. Simply click on the circle and the map will automatically zoom in to that area.

“We are excited to update our technology and still give travelers the user friendly Idaho 511 they are used to,” said ITD Travel Services Coordinator Tony Ernest. “Since late 2019, we’ve asked 511 users to test the new site and provide feedback. This input has helped our development team immensely in making sure drivers have easy access to the resources they need.”

Commercial truck drivers will no longer need a separate version of Idaho 511. The improved Idaho 511 features a Commercial Vehicle tab that selects appropriate trucking related map layers like Restrictions, Truck Ramp locations, and Weigh Stations.

Our “Streamlined” low bandwidth version of Idaho 511 will stick around for a little while longer, but get ready for that page to retire in late spring. Start using the new Idaho 511 now so you’re prepared!

Click here to visit the new Idaho 511.

ITD’s Annual Report Video shows commitment to serving Idaho

Every year, ITD publishes an annual report that communicates the department’s efforts to improve the safety, mobility, and economic opportunity of Idaho’s citizens. This year, we took those efforts even further by transformed the report into something that could be easily accessed and consumed by the public — a video.

In a brief eight-minute video, the annual report showcases ITD’s numerous achievements in fiscal year 2020, as well as a high level look at the department’s customer-focused performance measures.

The report also shows how ITD navigated the challenges brought on by COVID-19 in 2020, by keeping Idaho’s ports of entry open and operating and continuing to provide needed services to Idaho’s citizens throughout the pandemic.

You can view the annual report video below. ITD also creates a hard copy version of their annual report every year.