Eagle’s Salmon rescue, response to POE car fire show ITD concern for public safety

A few recent incidents highlight the safety role of Idaho Transportation Department workers in their everyday jobs, serving the citizens of Idaho. Here are a few of those stories:

Eagle’s Salmon rescue sheds light on fire-extinguisher checks

Like cellphones, or most of us after a few late nights in a row, fire extinguishers need to be recharged periodically to be at their full potential. That was never more evident than the morning of August 7, as ITD Salmon Maintenance Foreman Jeff Eagle raced to an overturned vehicle on US-93 and a young girl screaming for help inside.

He was her only hope at the moment, but even as he ran, he had to wonder if his fire extinguisher would even work.

On that Tuesday morning, Jeff started the day thinking about a sign installation. On his way back to Salmon, however, he glanced in his rear view mirror and witnessed a car over-correcting as it went off the road a few hundred feet behind him. The car came back across the roadway, but luckily there was no oncoming traffic. The car rolled.

“It was the most violent vehicle rollover I have ever witnessed,” said Eagle. “It went airborne and rolled at least 5 or 6 times and landed on its side against a landowner’s fence in an irrigation ditch.”

Eagle stopped and turned around to help. As the first one on the scene, he called StateComm and asked for an ambulance and sheriff to assist.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when I ran to the vehicle. When I came upon the car, it was severely damaged and crushed. I couldn’t even tell what kind of car it was. What I saw next was horrifying. There was a young girl pinned under the rear axle of the car. She was awake but screaming. I tried to comfort her as well as I could.”

He then realized the engine was still running.

“I couldn’t believe there was still an engine left in the car. I had to shut the engine off before it caught fire. There was no one else involved in the wreck, so I tried to get my arm through the car window to shut off the engine. It was difficult and the key was bent, so my first attempt failed.”

With his adrenaline kicked in, the second attempt to turn the engine off was successful. “I was able to turn the key just enough to shut it off,” Eagle explained.

“I was somewhat relieved, but also knew it could still catch on fire from the hot engine. Then the second thought hit me.’ I HAVE NEVER CHECKED THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN MY ITD PICKUP TO SEE IF IT WAS STILL CHARGED.'”

“What would I have been able to do if the car would have caught on fire with that young girl pinned under it? Fortunately, it did not and my fire extinguisher was charged. What a break.”

“We have always been fairly good about checking the fire extinguishers in the buildings, but we need to be more diligent in checking the ones in the equipment and other vehicles in case we are put into this circumstance while doing our jobs.”

District 6 Safety Compliance Officer Ron Butler explained that fire extinguishers are checked annually and tested as needed. This year, we found six trucks, three loaders, and several pickups or cars with fire extinguishers that needed to be recharged. They had not been used, but had leaked off anyway.

“We try to get to all vehicles and buildings, but often miss a few because they are out on job sites, so check your extinguishers and if they don’t have a 2017 tag on them, change them out so you know you have a good working unit,” he added.

Eagle concurs.

“It only takes a minute. It would not hurt to have a fire extinguisher in our personal vehicles also,” he said.

Note: Eagle said the girl didn’t have to be Life Flighted from the scene, thank goodness!

 

East & West Boise POE inspectors help tame car fire Aug. 2          

ITD Port of Entry inspectors from the East and West Boise facilities collaborated to put out a car fire at the port on Aug. 2, with help from a couple of truck drivers.

Inspector Kyle Perkins spotted a car on fire from the shoulder of Interstate 84 just past the East Boise Port of Entry, and alerted Port of Entry inspectors on the westbound side. Devin Dascenzo, April Jordan, and Jeff Butler. Inspector Scott Conrad was already in route to the car fire from the east port.

Dascenzo and Butler grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran up the westbound ramp to the car fire, while April closed down the westbound port. By the time Devin and Jeff arrived, Conrad had already exhausted a pair of fire extinguishers from the port car. Two truck drivers stopped and added their own fire extinguishers to help tame the blaze.

Jeff and Devin sat up cones to keep interstate traffic away from the shoulder without closing down a lane of traffic, and then helped the driver gather as many of his personal items from the car as possible. Once fire responders left the scene, port personnel made sure a tow truck was in route.

The quick reaction helped prevent injury to the driver, stopped a potential wildfire and kept traffic safely moving.

 

Ah Yee’s parking premonition proves prophetic          

An observant employee’s decision to park a truck in mid-June kept north Idaho drivers safe.

Chance Ah Yee, an ITD Port of Entry Inspector at the Huetter POE, noticed that a driver was slow in his response to questions. The driver was having real difficulty. Chance became concerned.

The driver said that he had been sick for the past week and was feeling fatigued. To protect the traveling public and the driver, Chance ordered the driver to park his rig.

A month later the driver contacted the Huetter Port of Entry to thank Chance. The driver had suffered a stroke just one day after Ah Yee ordered the truck parked.

“Chance did a great job of sensing something was wrong and using his discretion to prevent a potential accident,” said ITD Compliance Manager Reymundo Rodriguez.

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.

Safety is a top concern for ITD – here are a few examples:

Idaho is home to a lot of rural roadways that present some unique safety challenges. Here are a few recent initiatives from ITD to improve public safety on those routes:

SPOTLIGHTING DANGEROUS CURVES
If you ever played a driving video game, then you’ve seen the big flashing arrows that warn you when a curve is coming up and which way to turn. You’re not very likely to run into the wall, but follow directional arrows around the curve and go for the finish line.

Big electronic flashing arrows might be effective in a fast-paced game, but would not be very efficient on some of Idaho’s rural highways.

Here’s the rest of the story

RURAL INTERSECTION CONFLICT WARNING SYSTEM
Rural highway intersections can be hazardous if drivers are not aware of upcoming stops and free-flowing traffic crossing their paths. Here’s a lower-cost system to help save lives.

Here’s the rest of the story

 

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.“