ITD takes National Title at Snow & Ice event

Competing against the top operators from the region and the country, the four-person team from ITD won the national team title at the 2021 Western Snow & Ice Conference in Colorado on September 29.

The four maintenance men who made the trip were Brandon Steffens (representing the Southeast Idaho region), Jed Henderson (North Idaho), Stacey McCurdy (East Idaho), and Dakota Morgan (South-Central Idaho), pictured left to right, below.

“It was inspiring for me to see the enthusiasm this team of first-time participants brought to the competition; and continued with it to win the National Equipment title,” said ITD Roadeo Coordinator Kelley Dick. “They each did a great job individually, and represented ITD well. It’s about more than a skills competition, though – this just shows that we are providing top-notch service to the driving public.”

ITD’s mastery of skills translates into better service in clearing ice and snow from the highways for Idaho’s drivers.

The department was able to bring four people to the event, rather than the usual two because the pandemic kept ITD from sending anyone last year.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity,” said McCurdy, who made his first trip to the nationals after 26 district competitions.

“It’s amazing to see how well we worked as a team with all of us coming from different districts,” said Morgan.

Along with demonstrating a mastery of skills and knowledge, the event also allows participants to share best practices.

“We are very proud of our successful top ITD Equipment Roadeo leaders representing Idaho successfully this year in the Western States annual event,” said ITD’s Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “Thanks to them for their commitment to safety and skills excellence.”

Along with the national team title, there were a number of top ten finishes by the participants, adding to ITD’s history in the event.

Longtime Chief Deputy Scott Stokes will take over as new ITD Director next spring

The Idaho Transportation Board announced today Chief Deputy Scott Stokes will serve as the new Director of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) beginning in the spring of 2022.

“Scott has been with ITD nearly 30 years, starting as a staff engineer designing bridges and rising through the ranks of the department,” said Transportation Board Chairman Bill Moad. “The board believes strongly in building and promoting from within and creating career path opportunities for all employees. There is no greater testament to that philosophy than what Scott Stokes has accomplished at ITD.”

Current Director Brian Ness will continue to lead the department and Stokes will serve as Chief Deputy until he takes the helm on May 29, 2022.

“I appreciate what Director Ness has meant to this department the past 12 years. I am thankful for how he has helped me grow during that time and gain the valuable experience needed to lead ITD into the future. I look forward to the opportunity to take what I have learned and guide a department that fosters career advancement, innovation and delivers the best services to the citizens of Idaho,” said Stokes.

“Scott shares my goal of making Idaho’s transportation system as safe and efficient as possible, so we can save Idahoans’ time on the road and facilitate even more prosperity within our state,” Governor Brad Little said. “He is also passionate about providing Idahoans the best level of customer service. With Scott’s extensive experience and strong leadership abilities, one of Idaho’s largest agencies will be in good hands.”

Stokes has served as ITD’s Chief Deputy the past 15 years. He is a leading advocate of the drive to achieve zero deaths on Idaho highways by promoting driver responsibility and accountability. Scott joined the department in 1991 and served several roles, including district engineer in the Coeur d’Alene area for 11 years. He also was the state bridge engineer early in his career.

Stokes will become the eighth director since ITD formed into a statewide transportation department in 1974.

ITD looking for Public Information Officer for East Idaho

If you are interested in working for an award-winning, dynamic, professional state agency with a constructive culture focused on outstanding customer service and continuous employee improvement, we may have the job for you! This opening is an opportunity to use your media relations, writing and collaboration skills to promote the mission of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) as they fill an opening in the East Idaho region.

ITD is recruiting for a Public Information Officer to join the department’s Office of Communication in telling the story of one of the best transportation departments in the country. This position can be based out of our District 5 location in Pocatello OR our District 6 location in Rigby.  Candidates must have strong writing skills, experience interacting with news media, an understanding of how to use social media effectively and the ability to develop successful outreach campaigns, facilitate public meetings and assist with internal communication.
Regardless of which location is home base, this position will travel weekly between District 5 (Pocatello) and District 6 (Rigby).

 

Use either of these links to access the job application:

If you’ll be based in Rigby or eastern Idaho

If you’ll be based in Pocatello or southeastern Idaho

Director Ness to retire from Idaho Transportation Department in spring 2022

Brian Ness, the longest-serving director in the history of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), announced his retirement Wednesday (Aug. 18) after 12 years at the helm.

————————————————————————-
Here is a bio of Director Ness’ work history: (https://itd.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Brian-Bio.pdf
Along with personal and professional accomplishments: (https://itd.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Brian-Ness-Activities-and-Honors_2021.pdf)

————————————————————————-

“I have had the honor of serving you as your director and I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved together,” Director Ness told employees at the Idaho Transportation Board’s monthly meeting in Coeur d‘Alene on Wednesday. “We have transformed ITD into an organization that is credible in the eyes of the public, responsible with taxpayer dollars and focused on improving the employee experience. “This has been the greatest honor of my career, nothing will match what we have done together at ITD.”

Ness personally thanked his wife, Jackie, and family for their support during his more than 44 years as an engineer in the transportation industry. His entire professional career was in public service and included stops at the Iowa and Michigan Departments of Transportation.

“When Brian arrived at ITD, the organization lacked the confidence and trust of the public and Legislature,” said Transportation Board Chairman Bill Moad, “He leaves ITD as an agency that has shifted its workplace culture into one where employees are encouraged to innovate, deliver excellent customer service and exceed public expectations.” Moad added that, “Brian was hired to help ITD become one of the best transportation department’s in the country and now ITD is known as a national leader.”

During Ness’ tenure, ITD streamlined unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, began compensating employees for experience and skill rather than tenure, and focused services on outcome-based results, not processes.

“I appreciate Brian for his many years of dedicated service to the State of Idaho. Brian has worked hard to achieve his vision of helping to make the Idaho Transportation Department an example of efficiency. I wish him well in his well-deserved retirement,” Governor Brad Little said.

The department has received unprecedented funding support from the Idaho Legislature since Ness became director in 2009. This Included House Bill 312 that raised nearly $100-million for highway maintenance on the state system. Additionally, the 2021 legislature passed House Bill 362 into law that directs $80 million toward roads and other projects. The bill, a part of Governor Little’s “Building Idaho’s Future” infrastructure plan, allows the state to bond for up to $1.6 billion for transportation infrastructure projects statewide.

“I want to personally thank Governor Little, the Idaho Transportation Board and the Idaho Legislature for continually recognizing the hard work of our employees and trusting the direction we are headed,” Ness said.

Ness plans to retire in the spring of 2022. The early notice gives the department time to find a replacement and create a smooth transition. Chairman Moad said he will begin a complete national and internal search immediately to find a successor for Director Ness.

“The new director will be a Licensed Professional Engineer. This person will need to advance the award- winning strategic direction of the department and have a strong vision for the future. Needless to say, the new director will have enormous shoes to fill.”

Click below for video message:

 

Statewide Asset Inventory helps ITD track highway components

Until recently, the components of Idaho’s 12,000-lane-mile state highway system were largely unknown and unaccounted for. In a highly collaborative effort, spearheaded by GIS Analyst Nik Sterbentz in District 5 (southeast Idaho region), those components, or assets, were digitally recorded and catalogued statewide, making for a consistent, efficient, and repeatable process—a technological game-changer for ITD.

“Basically, before SWAAI (Statewide Asset Attribute Inventory), ITD simply didn’t have inventories of its key highway assets,” Sterbentz explained.  In order to be accountable to taxpayers and those doling out funding and resources, that needed to change. As Sterbentz notes, “it opens the door on a multitude of possibilities for ITD to do better business.”

Prior to the project, ITD lacked reliable comprehensive data inventories of nearly all its key highway assets, including signs, guardrails, ADA ramps, sidewalks, and vertical clearance, to name a few. Without reliable information, a data-driven approach to decision-making was frequently impossible, resulting in rushed, anecdotal, costly ad hoc solutions.

So, over the course of about eight months starting in 2020, ITD sought to remedy that shortcoming.

The result of nearly two years of project planning and need-gathering discussions across the district and HQ offices, ITD selected Cyclomedia Technology to gather mobile LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and roadway imagery in Summer 2020. Utilizing automated technology, Cyclomedia was able to rapidly return the asset data according to ITD’s specifications by March 2021.

Now, ITD staff across the organization as well as ITD partners can make use of not only the extracted asset inventories (nearly 700,000 individual GIS features) but also 360-degree panoramic roadway imagery with underlying LiDAR, ensuring measurement accuracy to under an inch at any point along Idaho’s highways.

ITD now has complete, comprehensive data inventories of approaches; barriers/guardrail; billboards (outdoor advertising); cattle guards; curb (ADA) ramps (including detailed “compliance” attribution); intersections; lanes; lights/luminaires; medians; mileposts/equations; pavement messages and striping; railroad crossings; rumble strips; shoulders; sidewalks; sign faces and supports; signal poles, cabinets, and power pedestals; utilities, survey markers, storm drains, and other objects embedded in the roadway pavement; and vertical clearance including bridges, utility lines, and other overhead objects.

The SWAAI not only solves the current problem, but also sets ITD on a good course.

The innovation hits on several of ITD’s strategic goals, starting by saving nearly 300,000 personnel data collection hours and helping its planners identify ways to make ITD’s roads safer to drive. ITD can now fulfill many requests quickly and with much less labor, saving taxpayer dollars in the long run – an estimated $3.8 million saved in boots-on-the-ground collection costs alone.

“It’s an opportunity for ITD to identify and implement numerous new, innovative practices and build on its legacy while proving its willingness to be open to revolutionary new improvements,” Sterbentz said.

 

Nik Sterbenz

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