How to get “Idaho Ready” for winter driving and holiday travel

Boise – With weather getting colder, and holidays on the horizon, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) wants to ensure that all drivers are “Idaho Ready” for winter driving conditions. “Idaho Ready” is ITD’s annual winter safety campaign. The goal is to equip drivers with information and advice so they can safely and confidently navigate Idaho’s roadways, regardless of the forecast.

On Thursday, ITD, Idaho State Police, and law enforcement agencies from several counties gathered for a news conference to drive home the importance of wearing seatbelts and driving to conditions this winter. Nearly 50 law enforcement and safety agencies will participate in extra patrols to keep our roadways safe. Funding for the patrols and overtime work focused on seat belt violations and impaired driving enforcement will be provided by a grant through ITD’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The enforcement campaign will run from November 17, 2022, through January 1, 2023. Click here to download soundbites, video, and a photo from the event.

Safety is ITD’s top priority when preparing for winter weather, both for drivers and for the ITD operators who maintain the roads every day. Across Idaho, hundreds of operators work around the clock to clear snow and keep Idaho’s 13,000 miles of highways safe. However, one of the biggest dangers for these operators is other drivers. Last winter, 11 people crashed into snowplows in Idaho. Most drivers tried to pass snowplows on the right and hit a deployed wing plow. Reminding motorists that the safest place to be when roads are snowy is behind the plow, is just one of the many topics ITD shares with the “Idaho Ready” campaign.

Here are a few more easy tips for winter driving:

  • Check the road conditions before traveling. Visit 511.idaho.gov, download the Idaho 511 app, or follow @Idaho511 on Twitter. 511 has weather reports, cameras, road closures, and more.
  • Keep a winter emergency kit  in your car and prepare your car for winter driving by checking your windshield wiper fluid, battery, and tires.
  • When roads are wet or icy, slow down and give yourself more stopping distance. Turn off cruise control and remember, bridges and overpasses are the first to freeze when temperatures drop.
  • If you do slide, stay calm, brake very gently, and turn your wheel in the direction of the skid. Try not to overcorrect.
  • Let others know your travel plans, especially if you will be driving through areas with no cell service. Check in when you arrive.
  • Using a GPS? Review the route before you hit the road in case your GPS tries to take you on unfamiliar or unmaintained back roads.
  • Beware of drowsy driving! Stop and rest when needed, and plan breaks on long road trips. Rest areas are also mapped on Idaho 511
  • If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. Look out for your friends and family and help them get home safely too.
  • Buckle up, stay engaged behind the wheel, and drive for the conditions this winter.

Watch ITD’s social media channels and website for weekly winter driving tips and best practices:

Child Passenger Safety Week seat check events happening across Idaho

A nurse talks with a mother about child passenger safety while a young child sits in a car seat.

BOISE – The Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) would like your support for Child Passenger Safety Week from Sept. 18-24, and National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 24.

In 2021, five children under the age of 7 were killed in crashes in Idaho. Four of those children were unrestrained. “It is so important for caregivers to be educated in car seat safety,” said OHS Child Passenger Safety Program Manager Tabitha Smith.

This week, Idaho has multiple dates and locations for parents and caregivers to check their car seats for proper installation. Certified Technicians will be on site:

Monday, Sept. 19

  • St. Mary’s Hospital, Cottonwood – Sept. 19, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 20

  • Orofino City Park, Orofino – Sept. 20, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 21

  • Fitness Building at Timbee Hall, Fort Hall – Sept. 21, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22

  • Syringa Hospital, Grangeville – Sept. 22, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Nell J. Redfield Memorial Hospital, Malad City – Sept. 22, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 23

  • Bear Lake County Fire Station, Montpelier – Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Kamiah Middle School, Kamiah – Sept. 23, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 24

  • Pocatello Police Department, Pocatello – Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Steele Memorial Medical Center, Salmon – Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Grease Monkey Channing Way, Idaho Falls – Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Thrive Pediatrics, Meridian – Sept. 24, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Tomlinson South Meridian YMCA, Meridian – Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Second Judicial District CASA, Lewiston – Sept. 24, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Con Paulos Chevrolet, Jerome – Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More information about car seat safety is available at https://shift-idaho.org/child-passenger-safety/.

For questions, contact Carma McKinnon, Child Passenger Safety Statewide Coordinator, at (208) 742-1683 or carma@lemhicountyidaho.org.

Rest area on westbound I-84 near Bliss to close indefinitely starting Monday

Image of Bliss Rest Area

On Monday (Sept. 12), the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will close the westbound Interstate 84 Bliss rest area until further notice due to a damaged waterline.

“We have been working to fix the line but have determined that more extensive repairs are needed,” ITD Maintenance Foreman Phil Etchart explained.

A timeframe for how long the rest area will be closed is not currently known.

“Our crews work hard to maintain rest areas for the benefit of travelers,” ITD Facility Manager Shawn Webb stated. “Our goal is to repair the line and reopen this location as soon as possible.”

The Bliss rest area facility located eastbound on I-84 will not be impacted and will remain open.

The statuses of rest areas can be found by visiting 511.idaho.gov.

Paving begins next week in Bonners Ferry

Milled surface of US-95 about to be paved

Over the next two weeks, US-95 will be paved in Bonners Ferry and the first season of the construction project will be substantially complete between Alderson Lane and Eisenhower Street.

Daytime paving will happen Monday – Thursday (Sept. 12-15), with work focused primarily on the northbound lane as well as some paving on the southbound lane. Access to businesses will be temporarily blocked while paving happens near driveways. The construction team will try to minimize impacts as much as possible. Friday night (Sept. 16) crews will finish paving the center lane. Once paving is complete, workers will adjust the manholes, stripe the highway and open all lanes back up to traffic.

Some work will continue until October to finish landscaping and to replace temporary wood railing near the north end of the project with permanent railing. Through the fall and winter, utilities will continue moving their infrastructure to prepare for the second and final season of work on this project. Next year, work will improve Eisenhower Street to Labrosse Hill Street and is anticipated to take from March to October 2023 to complete.

This project is the next phase of work that originally began in 2018 to rebuild US-95 through town with a continuous center turn lane and pedestrian facilities on both sides. More information is available at

Nighttime repairs start again on US-95 Spokane River Bridge

US-95 where it crosses the Spokane River

Work has now been rescheduled to the following week. For the exact start date, drivers should refer to message signs placed on the highway closer to construction or 511.

Nighttime repairs will start again on the U.S. Highway 95 bridge over the Spokane River, with work beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Drivers heading downtown after 7 p.m. over the next two months should plan for congestion.

Last summer crews sealed the driving surface and began work on the railing. This fall crews will replace the railing as well expansion joints that allow the structure to expand and contract with the weather.

“Generally drivers should only have to contend with the shoulders being closed, but there will be a few weeks when the contractor is working on the joints that we’ll also close a lane,” ITD Project Manager Cole Mosman said.

Construction this year will be followed by a larger project in 2023 that will repair the concrete piers and paint the underside of the bridge.

Find live traffic impacts at 511.idaho.gov.

Work on the Perrine Bridge to begin next week

Image of the Perrine Bridge near Twin Falls

Drivers can expect lane restrictions and possible delays near Twin Falls to begin next week as crews from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) clean the deck and perform routine biannual inspections on the Perrine Bridge.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, crews will begin overnight cleaning operations on the bridge deck. This work is expected to continue through Thursday, Sept. 15, between the hours of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane in either direction while cleaning is underway.

“When it is possible and safe to do so, we perform work at night to help lessen congestion in the area,” ITD Maintenance Foreman Chuck Sharp stated.

From Monday, Sept. 19, through Thursday, Sept. 22, crews will walk the arch and deploy ITD’s under bridge inspection truck along the bridge deck.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane in either direction while crew members are utilizing the inspection truck. Work will occur at non-peak hours to help reduce congestion and is expected to follow the below schedule:

– Northbound Right Lane Closure: Monday – Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
– Southbound Right Lane Closure: Wednesday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The left northbound lane will also be intermittently closed for 15 minutes at a time each day while workers access and exit the lower half of the structure.

Pedestrian access may be subject to short restrictions during portions of the inspection. Motorists should consider using an alternate route between the hours listed above. The schedule is subject to change pending weather conditions.

Click here for a photo of the bridge.

“The Perrine Bridge is a vital structure in the region and serves as a connector for thousands of motorists each day,” ITD Bridge Inspector Amy Bower said. “Inspections and routine maintenance projects play an important role in ensuring the bridge’s longevity for many years to come.”

Drivers are urged to exercise caution near the work zone and watch for crew members and equipment. ITD appreciates the patience and cooperation of those driving through the area.

Changes to I-90 work zone between Wallace and Mullan coming next week

View from an overpass of milling on I-90

Next week conditions will change in the I-90 work zone where the freeway is being repaved between Wallace and Mullan, with funding for the project provided by “Leading Idaho.” All traffic will shift from the eastbound lanes to the westbound lanes by the end of the week.

“This roughly marks the halfway point of the project,” ITD Project Manager Cole Mosman said. “We’re keeping traffic to one lane in each direction and moving it to other side of the freeway so we can get to the remaining work.”

Eastbound ramps that were closed with the first phase of paving will now be open, but drivers heading westbound will only be able to get on or off at Exit 62 in Wallace or Exit 69 in Mullan.

“We want to remind drivers to stay engaged, especially through work zones,” Mosman said. “All season long we have seen drivers become impatient and try to pass. Passing isn’t allowed in the work zone and trying to do so can have terrible consequences.”

Construction began in mid-July to repave this 5-mile section. This next phase of work also includes the building of an 85-foot-long wall and fencing at milepost 67 to protect drivers from potential rockfall.

These improvements were added to the project after boulders fell down a steep chute onto the freeway during two separate events in June and November of 2020.

The project was originally scheduled to be constructed in 2024 but was advanced to this summer with funds from Governor Brad Little’s “Leading Idaho” investment, which includes a one-time transfer from the state’s budget surplus of $126 million dedicated in 2021 by the Idaho Legislature.

Work will wrap up in late October.

Other work zones on I-90 include paving near the bottom of Fourth of July Pass, bridge replacements in Kellogg and a range of smaller projects to address bridges, concrete barrier and ramps. Drivers should plan extra time for commuting and check 511.idaho.gov for traffic conditions and restrictions on up to seven planned work zones east of CDA this summer.

Statewide survey shows more Idahoans are wearing life-saving seat belts

Traffic congestion I-90 near Huetter

BOISE – More Idahoans are making the safe choice to wear their seat belts. The Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is pleased to report that statewide seat belt use rose to 87.6% in 2022, an increase of nearly 5% over last year. In 2021, Idaho’s seat belt use was 82.9%.

The data is based on a statewide survey that OHS conducted in June. OHS teams observed 25,385 people in vehicles at 180 sites across Idaho. Observers count the number of seat belts used in the front seats of cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks.

“This increase in seat belt use is a good sign for Idaho because seat belts save lives,” said OHS Occupant Protection Program Manager Tabitha Smith. “We want everyone to buckle up. One click can save your life.”

Seat belts increase your chances of surviving a crash by nearly 50%. Despite the effectiveness of seat belts and the high usage rate, failing to buckle up is one of the most common contributing factors in traffic fatalities.

Last year, 103 people who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing seat belts – that is 38% of all fatalities in 2021.

“That simple action of clicking your seat belt is one of the easiest things you can do to stay safe. I’m happy that most Idahoans buckle up, but we still can still do better,” Smith said.

System Interchange Detour Begins Tonight

TECM Program

POCATELLO – Beginning tonight, Tuesday September 6 at 10:00 p.m., the northwest ramp of the System Interchange at Pocatello will be closed for construction. The closure will allow the ramp to be lowered prior to beginning bridge construction.

Motorists travelling north on I-15 wishing to proceed west on I-86 toward Chubbuck will be detoured through the Northgate Interchange. The closure and detour will remain for approximately three weeks until the new ramp is completed.

Motorists should carefully follow signs and posted speed limits while travelling through the construction area. With crews working day and night it is especially important that drivers be alert and proceed safely through the work area.
Drivers are encouraged to check https://511.idaho.gov or the 511 app to keep track of the project detours. Project details are available here on ITD’s projects website — https://itdprojects.org/projects/i-86-i-15-system-interchange/

This project is partially funded with Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation (TECM) funds as part of Governor Little’s Leading Idaho initiative. The program allows ITD to accelerate project timelines to address rapid growth and build critical infrastructure today that would otherwise take many years to fund and build.

Map of detour
Motorists travelling north on I-15 wishing to proceed west on I-86 toward Chubbuck will be detoured through the Northgate Interchange.
The detour through the Northgate Interchange will exit at Northgate, cross over I-15, and then proceed south on I-15.

Leading Idaho Logo

Fires burning along I-15 at Pocatello and at Malad Summit

Fire at Malad Summit

POCATELLO – Multiple fires are burning along I-15 at Pocatello. There is also a fire at Malad Summit on I-15. Fire crews are actively working in the areas, but traffic is delayed or blocked. Motorists are encouraged to slow down, watch for and move over for emergency vehicles and check 511.idaho.gov or the ITD 511 app to receive road status updates. The causes of the fires are not yet known.

Drivers should take extra care while driving through Idaho this weekend with fire danger high amid unseasonably warm temperatures. In particular, motorists should:

  • Ensure tow chains on trailers are not dragging which can cause sparks.
  • Tires on vehicles and trailers are in good condition for highway driving. A blown tire can cause the wheel rim to kick sparks into dry grass.
  • Never throw cigarettes or other combustible materials out of a vehicle.
  • Never throw glass or other litter out of a vehicle. Glass bottles and other objects can reflect or focus the sun’s rays causing ignition.
  • Do not park your vehicle over dry grasses when you pull off a road. The exhaust and other hot portions of the undercarriage can ignite a fire.
Fire crews responding to one of the fires along I-15
A burned area near the southbound lane of I-15
Pocatello Fire Department and other agencies quickly responded to the fires.