State Highway 55 and Banks-Lowman Road summer flagging schedule

As summer travel increases to Idaho’s mountain destinations, ITD’s Southwest Idaho office will also increase flagging resources at the busy State Highway 55 and Banks-Lowman Road intersection in Banks. ITD will flag traffic on the eight weekends expected to have the highest number of travelers due to local events and holidays. These weekends were selected in cooperation with a community working group involving Boise and Valley County community members.

  • Sunday, June 19
  • Independence Day, Monday, July 4
  • All remaining Sundays in July: 10, 17, 24, and 31
  • Sunday, August 7
  • Labor Day, Monday, September 5

Plan ahead for any road trip by checking 511.idaho.gov for the latest road conditions, and itdprojects.org for road construction work happening across the state. ITD asks drivers to please do your part to keep roads safe and prevent crashes. Slow down, drive engaged, and always buckle up.

US-93 Between Challis and Salmon to be closed Tuesday for emergency culvert replacement

Road Work Ahead sign

 

CHALLIS – On Tuesday, June 7 at 8:00 am the Idaho Transportation Department will be closing US-93 north of Cow Creek Road between Challis and Salmon to replace a collapsed culvert. Work is expected to take approximately four hours. “Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work and the location we’ll have to close the road completely to replace the culvert,” said ITD Area Manager Cody Schmidt. “We’ll do everything we can to finish the repair as quickly as possible since there is no local detour route available.”

Gravel fill has been added to ensure the safety of the public until the repair can be completed. Drivers should slow when approaching the area and follow reduced speed limit signs to avoid windshield damage. Motorists are encouraged to check 511.idaho.gov or the 511 app for the latest updates on construction, detours, and road closures.

Traffic light at US-26 and Woodruff in Idaho Falls being replaced following accident

Workers and truck working on damaged light pole
ITD District 6 employees examine the damaged pole at the intersection of US-26 and Woodruff

IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho Transportation Department is advising drivers to use caution at the intersection of US-26 (North Yellowstone Highway) and North Woodruff Avenue. Following a vehicle collision with a signal pole, ITD will be turning the intersection into a four-way stop until repairs can be completed.

“The vehicle’s impact was bad enough that it moved the signal pole foundation over a foot,” said Wade Allan, District 6 Traffic and Materials Manager. “We’re going to have to repour the foundation along with other significant work to get the light operational again.”

Due to the extent of the repairs needed, there is no estimate yet for when the light will be replaced.

Power and Franklin Counties Recognized for Zero Highway Fatalities

Photo of award recipients and ITD management

POCATELLO – At the Transportation Board Meeting held in Pocatello today the Idaho Transportation Department presented their “Zero Fatality” award to Franklin County and Power County.

ITD recognizes communities along with state and local law enforcement that have logged zero highway fatalities for the year. Representatives from Franklin County Sherriff’s office, Power County Sheriff’s office, Idaho State Police, and ITD employees who work in those counties were on-hand to receive the awards.

ITD is committed to working toward the goal of zero fatalities and the efforts by counties to work toward that goal deserve to be recognized.

As ITD moves into the construction season motorists are encouraged to drive safely to protect themselves, other motorists, and the crews building and repairing Idaho’s roads.

 

Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down

Work zones are a sign to slow down

National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 11-15

IDAHO – National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) will be observed April 11-15 with this year’s theme of “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.” The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is asking motorists to observe NWZAW and prepare to safely drive through work zones across Idaho.

As part of NWZAW, Idahoans are encouraged

to participate in Go Orange Day on April 13 by wearing orange as a visual reminder of work zones. Photos can be posted on social media using the hashtags #NWZAW and #GoOrange4Safety.

The awareness week ends with a moment of silence on April 15 for people killed in work zone incidents.

Statistics from the National Work Zone Safety

Information Clearinghouse demonstrate the importance of work zone safety and participating in NWZAW to spread the message that everyone has a role in getting roadway workers home safely.

  • There were 762 fatal crashes in work zones resulting in 842 deaths in 2019.
  • Of the 842 fatalities in 2019, 135 were roadway workers.
  • Most people killed in work zones were motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.

NWZAW has been observed for more than 20 years and was launched as a public awareness campaign to help everyone understand they play a role in keeping motorists and roadway workers safe.

As construction season kicks off around the state, it’s important for drivers to remember that work zones come in all shapes and sizes. They can be long or short duration and can occur anywhere, from the middle of a large city to even the most rural routes. ITD encourages all motorists to plan ahead, follow signs, and drive engaged each time they get behind the wheel.

To learn more about NWZAW, visit nwzaw.org.

Drunk driver cited after work zone incident on I-90 in January

Potholes on I-90 near Kellogg

This National Work Zone Awareness Week, ITD would like to remind drivers how to be safe in work zones.

Work zones aren’t just limited to the primary construction season – they can pop up at moment’s notice and times you wouldn’t expect to see them.

That was the case on January 15 when D1 operator Jed Henderson was dispatched to I-90 near Kellogg to fill in potholes.

“It was early evening and in the winter, so it was still dark out. The potholes were about 8 inches deep, and we needed to fix them,” Henderson said.

They were so deep that Henderson brought the mix to the site in the bucket of the loader so he could shovel it into the holes.

Ten minutes later and Henderson was cleaning up material on the shoulder when a driver blew past other equipment and ran into one of the tires on the loader.

The car then went sideways and was impacted by another car.

“We were lucky no one was hurt,” Henderson said. “Just minutes before we had been standing in that spot.”

Strapped in the seat of a 55,000-pound loader, Henderson said he barely felt the collision – but it has changed how he approaches the job.

Henderson stands by a loader
Henderson stands by a loader

“You spend every week working next to 70 mph traffic and you almost get used to it,” Henderson said. “You think it won’t happen to you and then it does.”

Idaho State Police investigated the incident and cited the driver for driving under the influence, which as a first-time offense is a misdemeanor with a penalty of a $1,000 fine and a one-year license suspension.

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:

Idaho State Highway 55 Smiths Ferry latest update

Late on Saturday, Jan. 22, a slide occurred just north of Smiths Ferry on Idaho State Highway 55. This slide was in a different section than the previous slide that occurred last fall and was much smaller in scale. We were able to reopen the road less than two days later.

However, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) understands the impacts these closures cause the communities that are dependent on SH-55 being open and operational. While this slide was smaller and allowed crews to clear the road of snow and debris quickly, we had a responsibility to bring in experts to ensure the hillside was stable before we could fully reopen the road. Our team takes these measures out of an extreme abundance of caution because your safety is always our top priority.

Idaho is a unique state; there are only a few major highways that run north/south through our state, which means we are dependent on smaller, mountain highways. We understand SH-55 is such a crucial and high-traffic thoroughfare and is vitally important to the communities of Smiths Ferry, Donnelly, Cascade, McCall and more. We know we have an obligation to be transparent with communities in that area, travelers driving on the road, and the wider public in Idaho.

Our crews worked diligently winterizing the road last year however, there were recommended steps that were not able to be completed prior to shutting down construction. There were plans to drill and insert rods (which can be anywhere from about 10 to 30 feet long) to secure the area where the most recent slide occurred. Part of that process requires grout to be applied to secure those rods, which stabilize the rock on the hillside. When the temperatures get to a certain level, it is impossible for that grout to properly set, so the decision was made to create a buttress in that area because there was a large catchment area surrounding this section of hillside. Knowing the hillside was not fully stabilized, a catchment area and buttress was constructed, ultimately doing its job by containing 99% of the falling rock.

It is important for you to know these areas where slides occurred were still in process of completion. During the next few months, ITD is going to take another look at planned designs for securing these hillsides and put them through another geotechnical review to decide if there are other ideas we can bring to the table to further reinforce these slopes.

We sincerely appreciate the public’s patience and grace throughout this project. ITD’s mission statement is “your safety, your mobility and your economic opportunity.” The statement starts with safety because that is our top priority. We hear your concerns. We take them seriously. We will do whatever we can to keep you and your family, and your communities safe as we work toward completing this project this fall. If anyone has any additional questions, please reach out to the project team at info@ID55smithsferry.com.

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! ♥

Public comment sought on plan for Idaho highway rail grade crossings

BOISE – Public input is being sought on the action plan to guide Irail grade crossings on Idaho Highways. Through Jan. 21, members of the public are invited to comment at https://arcg.is/1DqS4b or via the QR code posted below.
QR code to review action plan to guide Irail grade crossings on Idaho Highways
The action plan identifies, analyzes, and develops solutions to issues affecting safety at approximately 1,400 public, highway-rail grade crossings in Idaho.