Idaho awarded $30.9M in Federal grants to modernize transportation statewide

Idaho received nearly $30.9M in grant funding August 11 from the Federal government to update, improve and modernize transportation across the Gem State.

The funding comes through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which helps urban and rural communities move forward on projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, and intermodal transportation. The Biden-Harris Administration is using RAISE to modernize transportation and make it more affordable, increase safety and strengthen supply chains.

Idaho’s portion is part of more than $2.2B awarded nationwide by the USDOT.

Idaho’s portion includes:

  • $12,424,000 to the Idaho Transportation Department for Wood River Valley Mobility Corridor Improvements.

This project will improve transit-oriented infrastructure at four intersections with ID-75  in the Wood River Valley Mobility Corridor: Ohio Gulch Road, East Fork Road, South Broadway Run, and Elkhorn Road.  The improvements include bus pullouts, bus stops, passenger shelters, a park-n-ride, sidewalks, shared-use pathways, and shared-path tunnels/underpasses.

  • $8,457,000 to Valley Regional Transit for the State Street Premium Corridor.

This project will construct transit, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities along a six and one-half mile section of State Street/SH 44 from downtown Boise to Bogart Lane. This project will include accessible bus stops, on-route charging, real-time bus arrival displays, ticketing machines, lighting, a multi-use path, wheelchair ramps and access, and bicycle and additional street crossings.

  • $5,000,000 to the Ada County Highway District for the Access to Opportunity Planning Project.

This will plan and design 12 multimodal transportation projects. The total length of the projects is over 10.5 miles and includes filling in sidewalk gaps, signalizing crossings, implementing ADA accessible pedestrian ramps and signals, building multi-use paths and designated bike facilities, upgrading transit bus stops, and evaluating green stormwater infrastructure to prevent runoff from entering the Boise River.

  • $5,000,000 to City of Nampa for Reconnecting Accessibility and Improving Safety and Equity  

The City of Nampa will receive $5 million for this planning project which will design local and regional connections to benefit residents in the North Nampa Neighborhood. These improvements include sidewalk network expansion and modernization, shared use path construction, pedestrian pathway extension, a new pedestrian bridge, the replacement of an existing vehicular and pedestrian bridge, the modernization of two railroad underpasses, and the study of new transit services. The neighborhood has experienced over 450 crashes in 6 years, which would be reduced by this project. New public transit stops will connect residents in this underserved community to essential services, grocery stores, schools, churches, and parks. The pedestrian bridge will connect the neighborhood to a farmer’s market located on the other side of railroad tracks and will improve ADA access around assisted-living facilities.

 

The RAISE program is one of several ways communities can secure funding for projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s competitive grant programs.

“ITD is proud to be a sponsor of this incredible opportunity to receive a RAISE grant award for transit enhancements on the Wood River Valley Mobility Corridor,” ITD Public Transportation Manager Ron Duran said. “This grant award looks to bring a fresh perspective to transportation coordination in the state of Idaho.”

“This is a unique collaborative approach, as ITD’s Public Transportation, District 4 and TECM offices all sat at the table with Mountain Rides Transportation Authority to build the vision of this grant application,” said Duran. “This effort highlights what can be accomplished when leaders are willing to think outside the box and work together to find new ways to overcome challenges. This project will increase transportation options and system connectivity.”

 

 

Off State Street since 1961, ITD services moving to Chinden Campus

BOISE – After 61 years at the State Street location, the Idaho Transportation Department is moving to a new location on Chinden Boulevard. By Thursday (June 16), all departmental public services will be housed at the new Chinden campus, at 11311 Chinden Boulevard, Building 8, in a suite of offices purchased by the State of Idaho several years ago to house Idaho’s State Agencies.

Building 8 is a temporary home for most of ITD’s Headquarters employees affected by the flooding at HQ at the turn of 2022. The Idaho Transportation Board, after deeming that it was in the State’s best interest for the old building to not be repaired and to be permanently vacated, recently approved the remodel of Building 3 for the future home of ITD’s employees from Headquarters.

Check out this video of the new location...and this one.

“During all of this transition, ITD has continued to be open for business to serve the citizens of Idaho,” said Chief Administrative Officer Dave Tolman. “Only the location is changing,” he added, “not the high level of service provided.”

US-95 project in North Idaho named regional winner in America’s Transportation Awards

A project on U.S. Highway 95 in North Idaho was recently named the western regional winner of the America’s Transportation Awards announced Tuesday (June 7). Sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the America’s Transportation Awards competition was created to showcase tremendous projects.

Work from 2019 through 2021 addressed skyrocketing growth in Coeur d’Alene and Hayden by adjusting signal spacing as well as access and capacity at intersections. Several intersections on US-95 lacked basic turn lanes to separate turning traffic from through traffic. To maximize mobility at these intersections – some of which were seeing 50,000 vehicles a day, nearly rivaling traffic counts on the interstate—ITD added eight turn lanes to six intersections.

“Adjusting the signals so that they were spaced one-half mile apart allows us to better manage traffic with what we already had and without building costly features like bypasses or interchanges,” Project Manager Carrie Ann Hewitt said. “Once we update the signal technology this fall, we expect to see even more seconds saving traveling through the corridor. Seconds may not sound like much, but throughout the corridor they add up.”

Other improvements included rebuilding the shared-use path to the east of the highway and placing noise walls near Carriage Court and Hayden Pines.

This project was also awarded the Excellence in Construction Partnering Award from the Idaho Transportation Department and Associated General Contractors of Idaho in December 2021. The high-priority project united many stakeholders in the area, bringing together the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Hayden, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the state in a shared goal of optimizing the congested US-95 corridor in the heart of the City of Coeur d’Alene and the City of Hayden. Changes were partially funded by a $5.1 million federal grant with match money from ITD and both cities.

As a regional winner, the project will be considered for inclusion into the competition’s “Top 12,” which will be announced Sept. 7. These 12 projects compete for two top prizes — the Grand Prize, chosen by an independent panel of judges, and the People’s Choice Award, determined by the public through online voting. Both awards carry a $10,000 cash prize to support a transportation-related scholarship or charitable cause. The winning project will be announced at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Orlando this October.

Longtime Controller Dave Tolman named ITD’s Chief Administrative Officer

BOISE – Longtime ITD financial guru Dave Tolman will become the department’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), replacing retiring CAO Char McArthur. Tolman has worked in state government for 32 years, including the last 20 years with ITD as Controller.  He will oversee ITD’s Business and Support Management unit, plus Financial Services, Financial Planning and Analysis, and Internal Review.

Tolman has been responsible for financial reporting, revenues, expenditures, payroll, and cost accounting. For the past two decades, Dave has been the finance lead for the GARVEE and TECM bond programs and is knowledgeable in business processes and policies for all ITD programs.

Beyond his role at ITD, Tolman currently serves on the State Controller’s Office Fiscal Policy Advisory Committee, Access Idaho Steering Committee for the State of Idaho, and AASHTO’s standing Committee on Funding and Finance. Nationally, he is well known for his financial acumen and is the sought-after expert in GARVEE bonding activities across the country.

Prior to joining the department, Dave worked for the Idaho Division of Financial Management and the Idaho State Controller’s Office. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Brigham Young University and a Masters of Business Administration from Boise State University.

“Dave is an exceptional leader with unmatched knowledge of state financial management,” said ITD’s new Director, Scott Stokes. “He is also very attentive to the needs of his staff and invests in giving them opportunities to grow.”

Tolman steps in as the new CAO at a crucial time, providing valuable experience and guidance in the investment and utilization of additional funds provided by the Governor and Idaho Legislature to modernize Idaho’s transportation system and help deliver on an unprecedented program.

“I feel fortunate to have a compassionate, supportive, and capable leader like Dave joining ITD’s Executive Team,” said Stokes. “Dave will help guide our decision-making as we navigate the future.”

Tolman is excited about his new role:

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve the department and our customers,” said Tolman. “It’s an exciting time at ITD, as we have an unprecedented opportunity to invest wisely in the state’s vast transportation infrastructure.”

New 511 Traveler Services App Launches

This week, ITD’s 511 mobile app for traveler advisories and information gets an upgrade. The new and improved app features roadway events, road conditions, traffic cameras, weight limit restrictions, and much more.

ITD’s 511 website and app already have many users throughout Idaho, representing a wide variety of interests. In the first two months of 2022, there were 27,187 Your 511 users and 1.4 million sessions on the site and app. ITD is hoping many of the people who use the website also transfer over to the improved app. Mirroring the 511 website, users can now create or log in to their already existing personalized accounts, giving people the ability to save cameras, locations, receive text and email alerts on their mobile device.

ITD’s 511 Travel Services Coordinator, Saran Becker, has helped lead the development and is excited for the launch of the new app and the goal it will fulfill.

“The goals for creating this new app were multi-fold,” Becker said. “First of all, we wanted to bring the full benefits of the 511 website to the Android and iOS platforms in the form of apps that operate, feel and look like the Idaho 511 website, and that is designed to be easy to use on the go.”

“Second, with this roll-out and future updates, we are bringing more features and customization to the 511 apps. For example, with this app, we are integrating the Commercial Driver functionality into the new 511 apps, a function that previously existed in separate apps. Also, the new apps will have a ‘Find events near me’ feature, hands-free, eyes-free features, announce upcoming traffic events and rest areas, and contain the full Your 511 account features with favorite cameras, routes, areas, and alerts.”

Truckers who currently use the CARS Hwy app will be notified through a pop-up display directing them to switch to the new app. Existing users of the CARS Hwy app can still use it but are encouraged to make the change.

The app will be available on iOS and Android devices through the App Store and is free to use. Improving the user interface will allow Idahoans to control their trip planning and daily driving habits. It’s the next step in giving people the freedom to make safe decisions when hitting the roads.

Over the summer of 2022, more features are scheduled to be rolled out, including electronic signs, share events and cameras, weather radar overlays, and much more.


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The 511 service has proven to be a valuable source of information on road conditions statewide. The 511 slogan — “Know B4 U Go” — is a reminder that it is best to get road condition information before you get behind the wheel and start your trip, and to factor in conditions along your travel route.

The 511 service in Idaho launched in late November 2005, just before the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend. Since then, citizens have accessed the 511 service almost 54.2 million times.

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To the right are examples of what a user of the new app might see:

ITD Director Ness Recognized by House and Senate for Service Excellence

The Idaho State House and Senate recently recognized Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) Director Brian Ness by unanimously approving concurrent resolutions honoring his outstanding service to the State of Idaho and to its citizen taxpayers. Ness will retire in late May from ITD as the longest-serving director in the history of the department.

Ness and the organization were recognized for an innovative approach to management, creating an environment of accountability and transparency throughout the department that restored the trust of lawmakers. His stewardship of funding has led to many great accomplishments by employees throughout the state and made Idaho’s transportation system safer and more efficient.

Ness’ appreciation for employees has been felt throughout the department. He consistently gives employees the ability to make good decisions where they work, saving time and tax dollars. The director annually traveled the state to visit frontline ITD employees to hear about local issues affecting them and their communities.

Under Ness, ITD has earned more AASHTO President’s Transportation Awards than any state in the country — 20 of them during his time as director. The AASHTO Awards, from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, are considered the top honor that any department of transportation can achieve, and shows that Idaho stacks up favorably on the national scene.

The resolution honoring director Ness and the department was approved unanimously by the Idaho House and Senate, recognizing a job well done that will set a new standard for public service.

Watch the House and Senate proceedings. The comments made by legislators during these sessions are especially telling, and really get to the heart of why Director Ness has set the bar high and why ITD is on an upward path!

ITD’s first TECM Bonds rated exceptionally high by rating services Moody’s and Fitch

TECM Program

The $325M Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation (TECM) highway bonds have earned very high ratings by the two major rating services. Fitch rated them at AA+ (the highest rating possible is AAA). The rating by Moody’s Investor Services is Aa1.

The bonds are expected to be sold later in March, if market conditions are favorable. The bonds will be handled by Idaho Housing and Finance Association, which also has handled the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bond sales for ITD during the last decade.

“This excellent rating really began three years ago when the authority to bond was put in to the code as part of the 2019 Legislative session,” explained ITD Controller Dave Tolman. “This reflects our efforts in regard to the TECM debt service fund, the continuing appropriations, the guaranteed amount of the sales tax transfer, and other approaches.”

“These ratings show the confidence in what has been developed in Idaho for this program. The structure provides a fixed amount of $80M from sales tax collections transferred to the TECM Fund. This rating has taken a lot of work by a team of folks and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

Idaho Transportation Board approves projects to modernize roads across Idaho

TECM Program

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Board voted to accelerate the improvement of several major roadways during its regular monthly meeting Thursday (Feb. 17) in Boise. The projects selected for construction starting this summer will modernize aging infrastructure, improve safety and reduce congestion:

  • I-86/I-15 System Interchange in Pocatello/Chubbuck;
  • I-90 and State Highway 41 (SH-41) Interchange in Post Falls;
  • State Highway 16 (SH-16) from Interstate 84 to Chinden Boulevard; and
  • U.S. 20/26 from Interstate 84 to Middleton Road in the Treasure Valley.

To address the state’s rapid growth, the Idaho Legislature passed a historic transportation revenue package last May signed by Governor Brad Little as part of his “Leading Idaho” initiative. The funding is already being used for the planning and design of several projects. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will accelerate bond-funded construction projects this spring.

“Idaho is the fastest growing state in the nation. To keep up with the demands of growth, these funds will help save Idahoans’ time, keep us safe on our roads, and make our state’s economy even stronger,” Governor Brad Little said. “I appreciate the work of the Idaho Transportation Board, the department and the Legislature for acting quickly to put this money to work with projects that will benefit the state.”

Board Chairman Bill Moad is pleased with how fast ITD has designed and advanced projects for construction – less than a year after the funding was approved.

“The Transportation Board wants the department to take advantage of funding opportunities to accelerate projects,” said Moad. “It’s our goal to put this money to work as quickly as possible to increase safety, improve mobility and create economic opportunity for every Idahoan.”

Last year’s legislation increased the transfers to $80 million dollars a year into the Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation (TECM) fund that was created in 2017. Leveraging these TECM funds as debt service on bonds could yield as much as $1.6 billion of improvements statewide.

This bond issuance will be for up to $325 million in funding. It will be the first of several TECM bond sales. Projects selected for future TECM dollars will come from 13 corridors the board is targeting across the state.

Below are details on the construction projects approved by the board today:

I-90/SH-41 proposed interchange
I-90/SH-41 Proposed Interchange

I-86/I-15 System Interchange ($115.5 million): Improvements to modernize the I-86/I-15 System Interchange in the Pocatello/Chubbuck area will involve road, ramp and bridge upgrades at the junction of the two interstates, along with building a new separated pedestrian/bicycle path. This project will replace aging bridges within this interchange and modernize the roadway to improve safety and traffic flow.

I-90 and SH-41 Interchange ($82.5 million): The I-90 and SH-41 interchange in Post Falls will be upgraded to a new design that will be safer and will reduce congestion. The I-90 westbound off-ramp will no longer curve, and the ramps will come together and be controlled by one signal at a single-point urban interchange. This will resolve major congestion and safety issues that drivers experience.

SH-16 Intersection with US-20/26
SH-16 Intersection with US-20/26

SH-16, I-84 to U.S. 20/26 ($129 million): SH-16 is a new corridor that will be two lanes in each direction between I-84 and U.S. 20/26. This project will greatly improve mobility and address growth concerns by providing a much needed north/south freeway in the heart of the Treasure Valley.

U.S. 20/26, I-84 to Middleton Road ($41 million): Chinden Boulevard (U.S. 20/26) will be widened to four lanes between I-84 and Middleton Road starting this summer, and design is underway to widen the remainder between Middleton Road and Star Road to four lanes. Within the next few years the entire corridor will provide a much needed east/west connection across the heart of the Treasure Valley improving safety and increasing mobility.

Along with the construction projects listed above, the Transportation Board approved bond funds for several planning and design projects, including I-84, Centennial Interchange to Franklin Interchange, SH-55 Farmway to Middleton Rd. and I-84, Burley and Heyburn Interchanges.

Visit the TECM website to see regional maps and read more information on the Leading Idaho corridors.

Mr. Snowplow created in response to repeated snowplow strikes

A concerted effort was launched in late December amid a dramatic spike in snowplow strikes around the state.The first vehicle to hit an ITD snowplow came on Dec. 9, and then two more on Dec. 16. When a fourth happened just a few days later along with a couple of incidents where the plow had to run off the road to avoid being hit, the campaign was born. And to personalize it a bit, the caricature “Mr. Snowplow” was created by Justin Smith, the new Public Information Officer (PIO) for districts 5 and 6 (East Idaho).

“We were concerned with what we were seeing on the roads, with four hits in the span of just 10 days, so we began a short-term campaign to raise awareness,” Smith explained. This included multiple social-media posts, press releases, and interviews with local media. A spouse of one of the department’s snowplow drivers wrote the poem “Mr. Snowplow, you are loved” and District 1 & 2 (North & Panhandle Idaho) PIO Megan Jahns posted it just before Christmas. The poem is listed at the bottom of this story. The post went viral, with shares across the country and in Canada. The result of the campaign was a much higher awareness of snowplows and the dangers of passing them. As a result, plow strikes dramatically decreased.

At that point, Smith saw an opportunity.

“I was watching the rapidly growing metrics on the Mr. Snowplow social-media post and noted we were still getting media requests for interviews, handled primarily by District 4 (South-Central Idaho) PIO Jessica Williams. I realized the poem hit an emotional cord with families, bus drivers, truckers, and others. It seemed tome the poem personified the snowplows and really changed how people viewed them – less as an impediment and more as a caring person who worked long hours to keep our roads safe,” Smith said. “I thought that a cartoon version of Mr. Snowplow would help us capitalize on the goodwill of the snowplow campaign. Taking an existing photo and using Photoshop, the snowplow was transformed into a cartoon character and acts as a kind and polite spokesman during our winter safety campaigns.”

“The idea was not to guilt people or try to use scare tactics about danger, but to have a friendly and kind personification. Mr. Snowplow is just a big friendly guy that kindly asks people to drive responsibly,” Smith explained. “Not necessarily a mascot, but more of a spokesman for winter safety. The idea is to make him extremely polite, and gentle so we humanize the plow drivers and help people think of plows as more than just obstacles.”

The entire campaign was innovative for a number of reasons. First, it was a spur-of-the-moment push to address a problem we saw that was a significant safety issue for our drivers and the community. Smith and Jahns worked to immediately get the word out in a way that was more effective than simply saying we had another plow strike. Rather than focus only on traditional media, they used social media as the primary lever to move the public’s perception of snowplows. Jahn’s statewide press release spurred reporters to see the problem as a significant issue, and Smith called local media to let them know we wanted to get the word out about snowplow safety. Newspapers, radio, and television across the state quickly picked up the story and printed or posted stories. There also were numerous comments in broadcast media about snowplow safety when announcers were discussing weather.

The campaign also has spawned Mr. Snowplow coloring pages, and versions of the character that can be modified to fit any specific need, along with a section of white space in the lower left-hand corner where text can be added. Also, Mr. Snowplow was created on a separate layer of Photoshop, so it’s easy to superimpose him on other images.

Here’s the poem mentioned earlier:

Clarissa is the wife of Tim Moon, a five-year veteran with ITD in District 1. She recently authored the poem below as a gift to her husband of 15 years, and the rest of us at ITD sure appreciate her creative messaging. Thank you to everyone who makes our winters safer in Idaho!

Excuse me Mr. Snowplow, please move out of my way.
Don’t you know I’m in a hurry and I’m already running late.
Excuse me Mr. Snowplow, how dare you stop to eat.
My wife is waiting at the restaurant where we plan to meet.
Excuse me Mr. Snowplow, how dare you take a day off.
My street hasn’t been plowed, I’ll call your boss and scoff.
Excuse me Mr. Snowplow, why do you move so slow.
Don’t you know I’m just trying to get to my family back at home.
Excuse me Mr. Snowplow, how dare you leave a berm.
Don’t you know I have to take Grandma to get her perm.

Please just take a moment to thank the folks behind the plow.
They sacrifice time with friends and family to clear all the snow.
Without these men and women, traffic would come to a halt.
Just say a little thank you and don’t gripe about the salt.
From the wife of a plowman, things get lonely at home.
Keep us in mind when you want to whine and moan.
In the winter, we spend a lot of time alone.
Next time you see a plowman, give a smile and wave.
Thank them for all the sacrifices that they’ve made.
Excuse me Mr. Snowplow, from your little wife.
Thank you for being a blessing in my life.
I love you Mr. Plowman! ♥

ITD and AGC announce second annual Excellence in Construction Partnering Award winners

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the Idaho Associated General Contractors (AGC) announced this year’s winners of the Excellence in Construction Partnering Awards.

The second annual awards competition was announced in September as a collaboration between ITD Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney and Wayne Hammon, CEO of the Idaho Associated General Contractors. Applicants were encouraged to submit for construction contracts completed this year as well as projects still underway.

“These awards recognize outstanding partnering efforts between ITD and the construction industry,” said McElhinney. “Great partnering on construction projects results in the timely delivery of projects, keeping under budget, in teamwork for safety and completion which greatly benefit the traveling public.”

The applications were reviewed by a judging panel of state and local partners and evaluated on criteria related to how well the project:

  • Resolved conflict
  • Improved communication on the project with all audiences
  • Utilized innovative solutions
  • Incorporated team building activities
  • Honored stakeholders
  • Achieved a common goal

The winners were presented with the certificates recognizing the entries earning gold, silver, bronze and honorable mention at the Idaho AGC Annual Meeting on Dec. 8, 2021.

One project was unanimously selected as the ‘Top Gold’ award winner, for its outstanding partnering efforts—the US-95 N Corridor Access Improvements in District 1.

Below is a comprehensive list of the 2021 Excellence in Construction Partnering Award winners: