Idaho Transportation Department seeking bids for US-95 expansion south of Moscow

The Idaho Transportation Department is now seeking bids on a project to expand US-95 south of Moscow.

“This a major step forward toward construction,” District Engineer Doral Hoff said.

Three years of work will transform 6.5 miles of US-95 between Thorn Creek and Moscow, shifting it less than a mile to the east and turning it into a four-lane highway safer for all motorists. The new route will tie in at Reisenauer Hill and feature flatter grades, fewer approaches and less severe curves. The current route is the last two-lane section between Moscow and Lewiston.

“Although drivers won’t see major excavation start until at least mid-April, bidding now allows us to get started on the business of planning for construction with a contractor,” Hoff said.

The first year of work is expected to focus on the southern end near Reisenauer Hill, with the following two years building the remaining connection to Moscow.

“We want drivers to know that this long-awaited safety project is finally ready to be built,” said Ken Helm, an ITD Program Manager who has been working on this project since it was first proposed in 1998.

Contractors can find the advertising package at itd.idaho.gov/business for at least four weeks, with the contract awarded as early as November 9. The contract is expected to be awarded for approximately $71 million.

More project information is available at itdprojects.org/us95thorncreek.

ITD takes National Title at Snow & Ice event

Competing against the top operators from the region and the country, the four-person team from ITD won the national team title at the 2021 Western Snow & Ice Conference in Colorado on September 29.

The four maintenance men who made the trip were Brandon Steffens (representing the Southeast Idaho region), Jed Henderson (North Idaho), Stacey McCurdy (East Idaho), and Dakota Morgan (South-Central Idaho), pictured left to right, below.

“It was inspiring for me to see the enthusiasm this team of first-time participants brought to the competition; and continued with it to win the National Equipment title,” said ITD Roadeo Coordinator Kelley Dick. “They each did a great job individually, and represented ITD well. It’s about more than a skills competition, though – this just shows that we are providing top-notch service to the driving public.”

ITD’s mastery of skills translates into better service in clearing ice and snow from the highways for Idaho’s drivers.

The department was able to bring four people to the event, rather than the usual two because the pandemic kept ITD from sending anyone last year.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity,” said McCurdy, who made his first trip to the nationals after 26 district competitions.

“It’s amazing to see how well we worked as a team with all of us coming from different districts,” said Morgan.

Along with demonstrating a mastery of skills and knowledge, the event also allows participants to share best practices.

“We are very proud of our successful top ITD Equipment Roadeo leaders representing Idaho successfully this year in the Western States annual event,” said ITD’s Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “Thanks to them for their commitment to safety and skills excellence.”

Along with the national team title, there were a number of top ten finishes by the participants, adding to ITD’s history in the event.

Construction continues on US-95 near Sandpoint

Drone shot of the southern end of the Long Bridge

Efforts to improve US-95 near Sandpoint continue, with construction starting tomorrow at the intersection of Lakeshore Drive at the southern end of the Long Bridge.

Over the next six weeks crews will build both southbound and northbound acceleration lanes for traffic turning onto US-95 from Lakeshore Drive.

“The contractor will maintain one lane of traffic in each direction on the highway at all times, so impacts to drivers on US-95 are expected to be minimal,” ITD Project Manager Phil Stout said.

The southern entrance to Smokehouse Road will close for the duration of work.

Crews will also establish turn lanes with new striping on Lakeshore Drive. The existing center turn lane on US-95 will transition to a dedicated turn lane for northbound traffic turning left onto the side street.

“This will be the first phase of improvements for this intersection,” Stout said. “We are currently designing the second phase, tentatively planned for 2022, which could include median U-turns for Lakeshore Drive and/or Bottle Bay Road.”

A signal is also planned with the second phase of improvements a few miles south at the intersection of US-95 and Sagle Road.

“As it’s still in design, what is or isn’t included with the second phase could change,” Stout said. “We plan to host an open house in November once we have a better idea of what will work.”

Visit itdprojects.org/us95lakeshoredrive for more information, and go to 511.idaho.gov for updated traffic impacts.

Hands-on construction training and free Commercial Driver’s License offered next spring in East Idaho

 While “Help wanted” signs are everywhere and the skills of the workforce are waning, Idaho’s critical infrastructure will always require regular maintenance. To meet that need, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is offering a five-week training program in the spring of 2022 in Eastern Idaho. Applicants selected for the program will receive hands-on training in heavy equipment operating, cement masonry, welding and ironwork, and more. Applicants can also earn a free Commercial Driver’s License.

Now in its fourth year, 75% of the program’s graduates have obtained employment with companies in the industry.

ITD will start accepting applications up until November 30 or until the program is filled. Please submit a resume and letter of interest to onthejobIdaho@gmail.com or by mail to 3311 W. State Street, Boise, ID  83703.

Applicants must be at least 21, hold a valid driver’s license, and must be able to pass a drug screening and DOT physical. No prior construction experience is necessary. Women, veterans, and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information, please contact Jessika Phillips by email at Jessika.Phillips@itd.idaho.gov or by calling (208) 334-8152.

ITD receives funding through the Federal Highway Administration for this industry-leading program.

 

Longtime Chief Deputy Scott Stokes will take over as new ITD Director next spring

The Idaho Transportation Board announced today Chief Deputy Scott Stokes will serve as the new Director of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) beginning in the spring of 2022.

“Scott has been with ITD nearly 30 years, starting as a staff engineer designing bridges and rising through the ranks of the department,” said Transportation Board Chairman Bill Moad. “The board believes strongly in building and promoting from within and creating career path opportunities for all employees. There is no greater testament to that philosophy than what Scott Stokes has accomplished at ITD.”

Current Director Brian Ness will continue to lead the department and Stokes will serve as Chief Deputy until he takes the helm on May 29, 2022.

“I appreciate what Director Ness has meant to this department the past 12 years. I am thankful for how he has helped me grow during that time and gain the valuable experience needed to lead ITD into the future. I look forward to the opportunity to take what I have learned and guide a department that fosters career advancement, innovation and delivers the best services to the citizens of Idaho,” said Stokes.

“Scott shares my goal of making Idaho’s transportation system as safe and efficient as possible, so we can save Idahoans’ time on the road and facilitate even more prosperity within our state,” Governor Brad Little said. “He is also passionate about providing Idahoans the best level of customer service. With Scott’s extensive experience and strong leadership abilities, one of Idaho’s largest agencies will be in good hands.”

Stokes has served as ITD’s Chief Deputy the past 15 years. He is a leading advocate of the drive to achieve zero deaths on Idaho highways by promoting driver responsibility and accountability. Scott joined the department in 1991 and served several roles, including district engineer in the Coeur d’Alene area for 11 years. He also was the state bridge engineer early in his career.

Stokes will become the eighth director since ITD formed into a statewide transportation department in 1974.

US-26 in Idaho officially named POW-MIA Memorial Highway during ceremony and sign unveiling in Carey

Image of US-26 POW-MIA Memorial Highway Sign Locations

Idaho legislators, representatives from the National League of POW-MIA Families, community members and the Idaho Transportation Department will officially celebrate the naming of US-26 in Idaho as the “POW-MIA Memorial Highway” at 2 p.m. Wednesday, October 6, 2021, at the Carey City Park – Boyd Stocking Pavilion.

During the 2021 Idaho legislative session, HB132aa sponsored by Representative Scott Syme and Senator Patti Anne Lodge, formally designated and named US-26 in Idaho, the POW-MIA Memorial Highway. The bill unanimously passed both chambers, respectively, and was signed by Governor Little in April.

Idaho is home to eight soldiers designated as MIA and the City of Carey happens to be home to one of those individuals. Jon Michael Sparks was a helicopter pilot for the US Army and was lost in Long Binh Province, Laos, on March 19, 1971.

US-26 in Idaho runs from the Oregon border to the Wyoming border. The highway naming is part of a nationwide effort to designate US-26 as the POW-MIA Memorial Highway from coast to coast, with several other states participating over the years as well.

There are 10 locations across US-26 in southern Idaho where new POW-MIA Memorial Highway signs will be installed.

Repairs to ID-11 slide near Headquarters to start next week

Repairs to the Idaho Highway 11 slide south of Headquarters will begin Monday, October 4, and last through mid-November.

“Monitoring devices have shown no movement since we installed them in the spring, so we are now able to start work,” Project Manager Erin Buck said.

The highway first sank in April, eventually creating an eight-foot drop off. ITD bored underneath the highway to collect soil samples in May to determine the severity of the issue and identify the best long-term repair.

“We will construct a soil nail wall,” Buck said. “At a high level, this involves boring into the slope and using 40-foot nails to connect the failing material to the stable material.”

One lane of the highway will remain closed, but traffic will guided by temporary signals rather than the yield signs that have been in place.

This type of repair has been used successfully to mitigate other slides in the region, including the 2017 slide at Bear Ridge Grade north of Kendrick on Idaho Highway 3.

Knife River, the contractor that resurfaced seven miles of ID-11 between Grangemont Road and Headquarters earlier this summer, will complete the repairs for $1.1 million.

Striping work this week on Idaho Highway 75 in Hailey

Image of ID-75 in Hailey

On Friday (Oct. 1), crews will stripe the newly constructed portion of Idaho Highway 75 in Hailey. This is part of a two-phase construction project that has been underway since May of this year.

“Over the last several months, crews have worked on updating pedestrian ramps and crossings to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, and also rehabilitated the roadway throughout Hailey,” said ITD Project Manager Kenny Lively. “Painting roadway markings and pedestrian crossings is one of the final tasks necessary to complete this project.”

Parking will not be allowed on ID-75 (Main Street) while striping is underway. Work is expected to occur between the hours of 1-4 p.m.

“Striping requires work to be done during daytime hours when the temperature is ideal for the paint to dry quickly,” stated Lively.

Motorists are advised to slow down and watch for workers, wet paint and heavy equipment while driving through the area.

Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 19-25 reminds drivers to keep kids safe, offers free car seat checks

Young boy sitting buckled up in booster seat in the back of a car.

This week the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety reminds families that keeping children safe on the road means putting them in the right car seat. Sept. 19-25 is Child Passenger Safety Week and free car seat checks are planned at locations throughout Idaho.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children. When installed correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers.

“Every child is unique, and so is each car seat. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and requirements to know if your car seat is the right size for your child’s age, height, and weight,” said Child Passenger Safety Program Manager Tabitha Smith. “Too often we see car seats used incorrectly, but no parent wants to get it wrong when it comes to their kid’s safety.”

To help parents and caregivers select the correct car seats for their children, certified child passenger safety technicians will hold free car seat checks at the following events, no appointment needed:

  • Orofino: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 3-6 p.m. at Orofino City Park
  • Grangeville: Thursday, Sept. 23, 1-6 p.m. at 600 E. Main Street
  • Cottonwood: Friday, Sept. 24,  2-6 p.m. at St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Malad City: Friday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. at Nell Redfield Memorial/Oneida County Hospital
  • Pocatello: Friday, Sept. 24, 2-6 p.m. at Pocatello Police Department
  • Moscow: Saturday, Sept. 25, 12-3 p.m. at 1420 South Blaine Street
  • Idaho Falls: Saturday, Sept. 25, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at Grease Monkey
  • Meridian: Saturday, Sept. 25, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Meridian Fire Station 5

“These events make it easy to drive up and take just a few minutes out of your day to double check your car seat. This way you are prepared and protecting your child in case of a crash,” Smith said.

If you can’t make it to one of these events, Idaho has more than 90 car seat check stations across the state, with over 200 certified child passenger safety technicians willing to provide education and car seat inspections by appointment all year. To find the free car seat check site near you, visit shift-idaho.org/childsafety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height or weight limit allowed by the particular seat. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. When children exceed the weight or height limits for their forward-facing car seat, it’s time for a booster seat. The safest place for all kids under 13 is the back seat of the car.

“Every time your family gets on the road, make sure everyone is properly buckled, including the smallest passengers,” Smith added. “The right car seat or booster seat is key to keeping kids as safe as possible on the road.”

For more information and car seat guidance visit shift-idaho.org/childsafety or NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat.

Rock scaling to begin next week along US-93 in Eastern Idaho

On Monday, Sept. 27, a specialized crew will begin scaling operations along US-93 between Salmon and Challis. This work occurs regularly throughout Eastern Idaho to remove loose rock along the canyon wall that has a potential to fall onto the highway and create a hazard for motorists.

“Beginning next week and continuing through October, a team of five specialists will rappel down selected slopes to assess the area and dislodge rocks that may pose a danger,” ITD Geologist Shawn Enright said.

Scaling will occur Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the safety of motorists, the roadway will be closed to traffic for up to 20 minutes at a time while work is underway. Drivers are advised to watch for flaggers who will be present to direct traffic through the work zone.

If necessary, emergency vehicles will be allowed to travel through active scaling areas once crews determine it is safe to do so.

Work will start north of Salmon and progress toward Challis. The following six locations will be addressed with this project:

  • US-93 milepost 314.5 to 314.85
  • US-93 milepost 286.55 to 286.7
  • US-93 milepost 274.75 to 275.2
  • US-93 milepost 259.91 to 259.94
  • US-93 milepost 259.05 to 259.2
  • US-93 milepost 252.8 to 252.9

“Since we began this work in 2005 we have noticed a substantial reduction in rock fall along our highways,” Enright stated. “Reducing unplanned rock fall allows our maintenance crews to focus on other activities throughout the year and, more importantly, it provides for a safer roadway for motorists.”