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).

ITD to donate $10,000 for Cystic Fibrosis

RIGBY – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will donate $10,000 to the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Tuesday (Oct. 10). The gift is ITD’s prize money from winning the America’s Transportation “People’s Choice” Award for the Thornton Interchange project.

MEDIA ADVISORY: The media is invited to the west side of the Thornton Interchange at 2 p.m. Tuesday to see ITD formally donate the prize money to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The opening of the Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg last November culminated 20 years of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built along a 34-mile stretch of the highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City. The project and the overall U.S. 20 safety improvements have reduced serious-injury crashes by 75% and cut fatalities to less than one per year in that stretch of highway.

Cystic Fibrosis hits close to home for the eastern Idaho office of ITD known as District 6. Foreman Scott Robinson’s daughter, Lina, has suffered with it since birth. The disease is a progressive, genetic malady that causes persistent lung infections and eventually limits one’s ability to breathe.

(Picture of Lina Robinson)

Lina, 20, braves three different breathing treatments every day – each of which takes an hour. She takes special enzymes with every meal to help with digestion, consumes an array of vitamins and other supplements, and eats high-calorie meals and snacks. She regularly visits doctors, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, x-ray lab technicians, and pharmacists. Prescriptions cost $15,000 per month.

“The disease is a steady challenge,” she 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.”

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.

One in 30 people are carriers of the recessive Cystic Fibrosis gene. If a man is a carrier and marries a woman who is a carrier, the couple has a 25% chance of having a child with Cystic Fibrosis.

“We are partnering with the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by donating the prize money to them,” 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.”

“Last year, about 89 cents of each dollar of total foundation expenses was spent on research and medical, community and education programs,” said Ashley Barton, senior development director of the Utah and Idaho Chapter in Salt Lake City. The chapter is the nearest Cystic Fibrosis Foundation office in the region.

“We take pride in being an effective organization and are careful stewards of every dollar raised in support of our mission to further research and improve treatment,” Barton said.

Because Cystic Fibrosis is rare, the foundation doesn’t receive any federal funding, said chapter Executive Director Laura Hadley.

“Efforts of the chapter directly affect local Idaho communities and the patients cared for at the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center located at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise,” Hadley said. The care center at St. Luke’s is the only Cystic Fibrosis clinic in Idaho.

Lina typically visits the Cystic Fibrosis clinic for adults at the University of Utah Hospital. In her childhood, she visited the pediatric Cystic Fibrosis clinic at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

The Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation works with the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center at St. Luke’s to ensure standardized, quality care.

Idaho weigh-in-motion systems saved trucking industry 33,000 hours and $3.5 million in last year

Weigh-in-motion (WIM) systems like the one installed in February at the Inkom Port of Entry (POE) in southeast Idaho save the trucking industry huge chunks of time and money.

Trucks bypassing the port save an average of five minutes of time per incident, and almost a half a gallon of fuel. This amounts to a savings of about $8.68 per bypass. Commercial trucks using WIM to bypass Idaho ports saved 33,365 hours and more than 16,000 gallons of fuel in the last year.

There are four Idaho locations with WIM. From July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017, the impact was:

Huetter POE (Northern Idaho): 58,356 vehicle bypasses; savings = $506,530
Lewiston POE (North-Central Idaho): 89,049 vehicle bypasses; savings = $772,945
East Boise POE (Southwest Idaho): 247,378 vehicle bypasses; savings = $2,147,241
Inkom POE (Southeast Idaho): 5,600 vehicle bypasses (June only); savings = $48,608
TOTAL # of BYPASSES = 400,383; SAVINGS = $3.475 million

“These projects are an outstanding example of how the department is meeting its mission to improve safety, mobility and economic opportunity for Idaho and the nation,” Reymundo Rodriguez, DMV Compliance Manager, said.

The system allows commercial trucks that meet state size and weight limits to bypass weigh stations at highway speeds. An estimated 50 to 60 percent of commercial truck traffic will be able to bypass the ports.

Vehicles bypassing Ports of Entry facilities save drivers and companies valuable time on the road, reducing fuel and operating costs while increasing productivity. Vehicles that bypass also benefit the state and everyone who uses the highways by reducing congestion around weigh stations and enabling inspectors at the port to focus their efforts on carriers that demand the most attention.

Three projects highlight ITD’s mission across Idaho

Interstate repaving

Efficient business practices and construction methods are occurring across the state. In this edition of ITD In Motion, Jennifer Gonzalez takes a look at three projects that aren’t just meeting ITD’s mission, but exceeding it.

Look up: ITD finds $320k in annual savings in overhead sign inspections

Overhead Sign Inspection

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) recently found significant savings, and it was just overhead.

There are nearly 2,000 overhead sign structures on the state highway system, and more than a quarter of them are inspected each year. Finding even a slight savings in the per-unit cost can result in a significant overall savings, and that’s just what the ITD Bridge Asset Management team has done.

“In the 2005 contract, we paid an average of around $1,200 per structure,” said Bridge Asset Engineer Jake Legler. “In our most recent contract (April 2017), we are paying an average of $400 per structure. We are inspecting an average of 500 structures per year. This equates to a savings of nearly $320,000 per year.”Innovate ITD Logo

An overhead structures inspection program resumed in 2016 after an initial round of safety inspections were conducted from 2005-2007. The new inspection program called on sign-structure inspection experts Collins Engineers. National bridge inspection software also had to be modified to accommodate the nation’s only element-level inspections of overhead structures.

“Our bridge inspection is done at the element level, which means each structural element is assigned a condition rating. We set up the overhead structures inspection program to be at the element level so that it was consistent with our bridge inspection program. We used nationally defined element numbers for overhead structures in order to be consistent with other states if they ever adopt an element-level sign inspection program.”

The result goes beyond monetary savings and efficiency, to enhancing safety for travelers on Idaho’s 12,000-mile state highway system. The idea came through ITD’s innovation program earlier this year.

“In addition to the safety improvements on the structures themselves, we were able to employ some innovative inspection and traffic-control techniques, like using high-powered binoculars and climbing structures rather than closing lanes,” Legler explained.

“That not only made it safer for our workers and required no lane closures, but it also brought the inspection costs down significantly,” he added.

Pilot program offers job training for heavy construction equipment

Excavator

Heavy equipment operators – those who man excavators, graders, and dozers –  are going the way of welder, pipe fitters, carpenters and other trades jobs; the demand for work is high but there are too few people skilled enough to do it.

Russ Rivera, a compliance officer with the Office of Civil Rights had an idea on how to change that. He secured federal grants to fund a three and a half week crash course to train heavy equipment operators.

Watch the video below for the full story.

ITD performance, innovation chronicled by United Kingdom media

Dramatically improved performance benefiting the road user has raised the profile of the Idaho Transportation Department nationally, and beyond. The article linked below comes from Traffic Technology International, a media outlet from the United Kingdom:

Read Article

ITD is actually mentioned twice in the magazine — there is a second article, about Weigh-In-Motion technology, that runs from pages 38-42.

 

 

 

Idaho one of only two western states to win multiple regional transportation awards

BOISE – Two Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) efforts — a massive clean up of a landslide in north-central Idaho, and the final piece of an interchange construction plan in eastern Idaho that significantly cut serious crashes — won regional awards June 28 in Juneau, Alaska.

Regional winners in the America’s Transportation Awards were announced during the annual conference of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO). Idaho was one of only two western states to receive multiple awards; Colorado was the other. WASHTO is the western regional arm of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

“The America’s Transportation Awards give state DOTs recognition for providing the essential connections that keep people, goods and our economy moving forward,” said David Bernhardt, AASHTO president.

The two ITD awards are listed below:

Elk City Slide Cleanup – winner in “Operational Excellence, Small Project”

The 2016 Elk City landslide unleashed 47 million lbs. of mud, rock and debris on Idaho State Highway 14, cut off access to a remote town and threatened grocery and gas deliveries, health-care visits, emergency services, and the livelihood of those who rely on the highway for transport.

ITD employees from all over the state swarmed to the site to respond. Many employees took leave of their typical job assignments to assist in the efforts. The cleanup took about six months, and cost close to $3.5 million.

The original slide dumped material across a 500-foot-wide stretch of highway. Two months later, a second slide brought down more material and pushed what was already loose debris even closer to the highway. Combined, the slides spilled 235,000 cubic yards of debris on the road and left a boulder weighing about 2.4 million lbs. on the hillside that ITD reduced with two dynamite charges.

“The entire team of worked safely and efficiently, with the people of Elk City in mind every step of the way,” said ITD District 2 Engineering Manager Doral Hoff.

Thornton Interchange – winner in “Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Small Project”
The opening of the new Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg marked the culmination of more than a decade of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built in a 34-mile stretch of U.S. 20 between Idaho Falls and Sugar City to improve access management and traffic flow for greater highway safety and mobility.

Despite traffic volumes doubling, these improvements drastically decreased serious-injury crashes and fatalities. In addition, several money-saving innovations and technological advances shaved at least $450,000 off the final price tag for the Thornton project.

“Providing the contractor with a 3-D model for the Thornton Interchange and requiring them to use automated grade control during construction shortened the required construction time and reduced the impact to traffic through the busiest part of the summer,” said ITD District 6 Engineering Manager Wade Allen.

Gonzalez takes reins as new Idaho DMV Administrator July 2

Alberto Gonzalez, the current DMV Modernization Manager, has been selected as the new Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Administrator. His first day will be July 2.

Gonzalez takes over a division of more than 200 people. DMV operates a broad spectrum of services throughout Idaho from headquarters and county staff, as well as Ports of Entry and Motor Vehicle Investigators.

Gonzalez takes over for Alan Frew, who has been DMV Administrator since 2006 but will be retiring July 1.

“I am excited to follow Alan Frew. One of his greatest strengths was the investment in the lives of his employees, and that’s something I want to build on,” said Gonzalez. “Alan also was a champion of great customer service — another legacy we will continue and grow.”

“We had several extremely qualified internal applicants for this position – which speaks to the level of talented individuals we have at ITD,” said Chief Deputy Director Scott Stokes. “We chose Alberto because of his experience in managing operations, developing winning teams, his ability to understand policy and processes that increase customer service and productivity.”

A veteran of managing people and programs, his service includes a great balance in both the public and private sector.  He has 13 years in the private sector and 10 in public service.

Gonzalez said one of the biggest opportunities is further strengthening DMV’s relationship with the counties.

“We need to strengthen the support we provide the counties, including better communication, training, process improvements, system reliability and really build trust with the county offices,” said Gonzalez. “They’re the face of DMV, that’s the relationship we need to improve the most. We need to make it a more unified standard statewide operation – consistent across the state including headquarters.”

Gonzalez will continue to build upon the DMV reorganization that started last year. He said DMV has an opportunity to develop an even more highly skilled work force that can lend customer’s assistance and expertise across the spectrum of business.

“Much of the change that has occurred over the past year is a direct reflection of DMV employee’s ideas and innovations, and their continued engagement is essential as we move the organization forward,” Gonzalez said. “I look forward to working with the DMV employees and learning from them. We have an opportunity to truly be the model government organization that the public and other government agencies look up to, depend on and trust.”

Amy Schroeder selected to head up next GARVEE program

Amy Schroeder, manager of the recent award-winning, $857 million Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) Program, will return to lead the next round of GARVEE bonding approved by the Idaho Legislature during their recent 2017 session.

The legislature approved up to $300 million in bonding this time around. The first piece is the I-84 expansion between the Franklin Blvd. and Karcher Interchange in Nampa.

The original GARVEE program wrapped up in 2015, after a decade of investment in the state’s roads and bridges unprecedented in scope since the interstate system was built through Idaho in the 1960s. GARVEE allowed Idaho to invest in highway improvement projects in six corridors throughout the state, starting in 2006.

The 59 GARVEE projects were delivered without any delay to the regular construction program.

GARVEE projects also were delivered at an accelerated pace and at lower costs than anticipated. Funding the necessary improvements would have taken 30 years under the existing pay-as-you-go method. This enabled motorists to use the roads and bridges earlier and enhanced the state’s commerce and commercial transportation.

Schroeder has been with ITD’s District 3 office serving the 10 southwest Idaho counties as the Engineering Manager since 2011. She will be leaving D3 and returning to ITD Headquarters to manage the program. The transition period has yet to be decided. Schroeder will continue to work closely with D3 on Interstate 84 work, and possibly other district priorities, depending upon what the Idaho Transportation Board decides to do with the remaining bonding authority.

“I’m honored to be selected and get to work addressing needs in critical corridors,” Schroeder said.

“The initial GARVEE Program showed the traveling public that the department can and will deliver on its commitments. The success of GARVEE also translated into a level of trust within the legislature, and that was the catalyst for the additional bonding authority,” she added.

“Amy is very experienced in complex projects and with the demands of the GARVEE program,” said ITD Chief Deputy Scott Stokes. “Her experience fits perfectly with what the state of Idaho needs to deliver projects quickly on this high-profile program.”

“Amy is also very experienced in finding innovations and solutions that are unique that help ITD, not only in the GARVEE program, but also statewide in other projects and districts,” he added.

“Like most ITD projects, success will involve a team effort with unified vision. Amy can find and unify the resources needed for this challenging program to be successful.“