ITD goes Ivy League

ITD goes Ivy League with Harvard

Harvard. Few names are as synonymous with excellence and achievement. So, it was noteworthy when Harvard recently interviewed Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness for information on the agency’s innovation program.

For an hour, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government talked with the director about the origins and logistics of the program, the organizational changes required, and the ability to replicate the program elsewhere in government to improve efficiencies and performance.

ITD’s employee-driven program solicits improvements from employees statewide.

After interviewing Ness April 12, Harvard was impressed. “We definitely think there’s at least one article we could write about your organization, perhaps more,” said Jessica Engelman, editor of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Innovators Network newsletter. Engelman said an article would likely be published after June, once the university slows down a bit for the summer.

An “Operational Excellence” column and one called “Better, Faster, Cheaper” were specifically mentioned as possibilities.

Looking back on a historic, record-setting winter


The 2016/2017 winter and spring across Idaho will likely be remembered for its intensity on all fronts-from snow to floods to the damage left in its wake. In this edition of ITD in Motion, Jennifer Gonzalez talked to our crews on the front line about their experiences battling every challenge Mother Nature has thrown our way.

New transportation funding allows ITD to continue effective, efficient management

LEWISTON – Two transportation bills were passed into law at the end of the recent Idaho Legislative session, giving the Idaho Transportation Department access to millions of dollars to invest in improving the state transportation system and funding pedestrian-safety improvements.

During the Idaho Transportation Board meeting Friday (April 21) in Lewiston, board members will be given a list of possible projects to fund through the newly authorized GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds. These include four corridors with work left incomplete from the 2005-2014 GARVEE bonds.

The funding creates four revenue streams for transportation funding. First, they authorized ITD to borrow $300 million in GARVEE bonds. Next, they extended the “surplus eliminator” until 2019, with a 60/40 split among state and local transportation agencies. They also included 1 percent of sales tax and a portion of the cigarette tax going to a Congestion Mitigation Fund. This makes a total estimated funding of approximately $300 million.

This marks the second new road-funding package in recent years. In 2015, increases to the gas tax and registration fees allowed ITD to perform necessary maintenance on deteriorating infrastructure.

The new revenue from user fees has funded repairs on 60 projects across the state. All but a few of those projects were completed in just 18 months. The remaining few will finish this summer and fall.

Watch a video about the rapid repairs using new revenue here.

Drive smart: slow down in work zones

Go Orange Message

Construction season is once more gearing up across Idaho which means plenty of orange on the roads – on both people and cones.

Of course the orange isn’t there to make you think of hunting season or add some color to your drive. It’s to make you aware of the dangers present in work zones. When ITD employees wear orange they want you to see them and to slow down!

This year, more than 100 members of ITD’s staff who aren’t typically out on the roads came together and wore orange to share this message of safety, and to show support for those who take risks repairing and maintaining our roads and bridges. You can see a video of the event below.

Don’t forget, fines for traffic violations increase in work zones. More importantly, you can help be an agent for change by slowing down and driving cautiously when you come to a construction project.

Help our people make it home safe this year!

McGrath selected as new Chief Operations Officer

ITD Director Ness announced on Wednesday, March 1 that Travis McGrath has been selected as ITD’s new Chief Operations Officer following a thorough national search during the last several months. He is expected to start in late March.

Travis comes to ITD from the private sector. He has been the Pacific Northwest and Alaska “Operations Leader” at Golder Associates the past seven years and with the company for nearly 20 years.

“What stood out about Travis was his ability as a strong communicator and consensus builder, his strong decision-making experience and his understanding of the engineering side of operations, along with his diverse business background,” said Director Ness. “Travis has shown a history of setting the vision and holding those around him accountable throughout his career.”

Travis said he’s excited to move from Seattle area to serve ITD and the people of Idaho. He plans to begin this new chapter of his career at the end of March.

“I was intrigued by ITD’s recent transformation, which is impressive by any measure,” said McGrath. “I’ve held operational leadership roles in two diverse settings (US Army and consulting engineering) and recently navigated through a major organizational change like ITD’s. I believe that these experiences, along with my passion for teamwork and continual improvement, will help ITD continue its important mission through pursuit of innovation, risk management, and focusing on results.”

Travis brings a strong military background to this position. He served as a Combat Engineer Officer for more than a decade on active duty and as a reserve. He led a platoon during both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Travis replaces Jim Carpenter who served ITD for more than 31 years the last three-and-a-half as Chief Operations Officer.

I-15 port features new tech, $2.1M annual savings

POCATELLO – New Weigh-in-Motion/Automatic Vehicle Identification (WIM/AVI) technology recently installed in southeastern Idaho at the Inkom Port of Entry (POE) is expected to fast-track benefits for commercial vehicles using the scales, the general motoring public, and local economies to the tune of $2.1 million annually.

Approximately 3,100 commercial vehicles use the port each day, and another 14,000 passenger vehicles pass by on Interstate 15. The estimated annual savings to the industry is based on time and fuel savings. If a truck is compliant, this message appears on the sign near the roadway and the truck can continue.

The motoring public will also see less congestion in the area of the weigh station because fewer trucks will be required to pull in for processing.

“The possibilities are exciting,” said David Hankla, who manages ITD Ports of Entry in eastern and southeastern Idaho. “The system has been fine-tuned compared to earlier installations, so the potential upside is tremendous.”

The WIM/AVI system allows commercial trucks that meet state size and weight limits to bypass weigh stations at highway speeds. It is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of commercial truck traffic will be able to bypass the port.

Loops embedded in the roadway track the movement of each vehicle through the system, which registers the vehicle’s weight and axle configuration as it travels over the scales at highway speed. As truck drivers cruise down the highway, the electronic system verifies that the truck’s legal weight, height, length, safety rating and credentials are in adherence with the law.

If everything checks out legally, the truck driver receives a green light on their transponder or a message on a changeable message sign directing them to bypass the weigh station and continue on its route. Conversely, if there are any legal issues, the driver receives a red light or direction to report to the weigh station for further inspection. Drivers may also receive a red light for a random pull-in.

This allows more time to be spent checking commercial vehicles for weight and safety violations. Trucks running safe and legal loads benefit by not being slowed down with redundant stops as they make their way across country. Economically, more freight moved more efficiently means better profit margins for the industries affected.

The installation south of Pocatello finished in late January. A grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration kick-started the project. ITD’s part of the match was $596,000 for building slabs and conduit runs to support scale installation and hardware for the WIM system. The project was fast-tracked from project design phase to construction due to extremely tight grant deadlines.

Similar systems have been installed at the East Boise POE, the Huetter POE in Coeur d’Alene, and at the Lewiston POE. The Sage Junction POE in eastern Idaho, about 60 miles south of the Montana border, is slated for the next WIM/AVI installation, starting later this year. WIM/AVI locations are determined by factors such as volume of commercial truck traffic, need, and industry input.

Broadway Bridge rebuild wins Government Leadership Award

ITD’s replacement of Boise’s Broadway Bridge was recognized Dec. 19 with a 2016 Leadership in Government award from the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho. The award recognizes individuals, businesses and projects that demonstrate leadership supporting Communities in Motion 2040, the regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon counties.