Construction resumes on US-95 south of Moscow

Drone Shot of Construction from Oct. 17th, 2022

The 2023 construction season began today for U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow. Work will take place near Eid Road and will include building a rock embankment for the site of the two new bridges and excavation on the north side of Reisenauer Hill. Controlled blasting is expected to resume weekly and continue throughout the spring.

Work in 2023 and 2024 will build two bridges over Eid Road and pave the new set of lanes. Each season of construction will generally occur between April and October.

Last year, earthwork was completed on more than 2.5 miles of the new alignment, putting the project at about 30 percent complete. More than $17 million has been spent so far on the project.

Expanding the highway to four lanes on a new alignment will not only add capacity and reduce travel times but also significantly improve safety.

It is anticipated that drivers will be able to take the new route in fall of 2024.

More project information is available at

As part of Governor Brad Little’s Leading Idaho initiative, the 2021 Idaho Legislature dedicated $126 million of one¬time funds from Idaho’s budget surplus to transportation projects statewide. The funds were split 60/40 between ITD and local jurisdictions. This project is partially paid for with ITD’s portion of the funds that will accelerate projects to replace bridges, restore pavements, and improve mobility in communities across Idaho.

Michael Johnson named new Idaho State Bridge Engineer

Longtime ITD Bridge employee Michael Johnson was named as the new State Bridge Engineer effective Christmas Day 2022. He replaces Matt Farrar in the position, who retired in October after 25 years in the job and 36 years overall at the department.

Johnson most recently served as a Design Group Leader in the Bridge Section.  He graduated from Idaho State University in 1991, then began accumulating over 30 years of bridge-design experience. He started his career in ITD’s Engineer-in-Training program, before joining the Bridge Section in April 1992.  As an EIT, Johnson spent two years in District 3, six months in HQ Materials, and the remaining time in the Bridge Section.

Johnson then took a hiatus from ITD to lead a bridge section for a consulting firm (HDR) from 2003 until July 2018.  He returned to ITD a month later to get more opportunities to design bridges in Idaho and spend more time with his wife, Kim.

“I needed a better work/life balance,” Johnson explained.

He and Kim have two grown sons — Zak (an engineer for ITD in District 5) and Parker. In addition to working as an engineer, he served 12 years in the U.S. Army reserves (1990-2002), rising to the rank of Captain, and has coached high school football for the last 13 years.  He has been coaching football at Nampa Christian High School since 2010, and is currently the varsity Special Teams Coordinator, Receivers Coach, and assistant the Offensive Coach.

“With my new position, I may need to give up some of those duties, but I am fortunate to be able to continue coaching,” Johnson explained.

Mike’s hobbies include mountain biking, running, coaching, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his family.

Johnson answered a few questions for this article:

Q: What are the goals and challenges you anticipate for this new position?
A: Goals:

“The ITD Bridge Section Staff is excellent, and I am honored to be a part of this team.  I want to give the staff the opportunity to work on the projects that interest them. We have some exciting project opportunities coming up in the next few years, including the Rainbow Bridge replacement. Giving our section the opportunity to work on this project and other high profile projects is exciting to me.

I also want to continue to integrate the Bridge Design with the Bridge Asset Management Section. In the past, these sections have worked mostly independently, even though these sections are both in Bridge. Over the past few years, we have been cross training staff to give the staff well rounded experience. Load-rating staff has been given the opportunity to design bridge projects, and design staff has been helping with load ratings. I want to get to the point where staff can seamlessly help the other group if there is a need.

Matt was well-known in the national bridge community — I want to continue ITD’s presence. I have been fortunate to gain important contacts with some of the leaders in the bridge industry through my work on a AASHTOWare Task Force and working with AASHTO Committee of Bridges and Structures.  I want to continue to participate on the national level, as well as giving other ITD Bridge staff the same opportunities to work on national committees.”

“I have big shoes to fill. Matt Farrar has been the State Bridge Engineer for over 25 years.  His experience will be missed. He was well-known throughout the state and national bridge engineering community.  Changing the face of ITD Bridge Section from Matt Farrar to Mike Johnson may take time.”

Johnson said the opportunity to help shape a new ITD Bridge section drove him to apply for the job.

Q: What made you want to tackle this new job?
A: “I enjoy mentoring younger staff. As the State Bridge Engineer, I will be in a position to provide mentorship to young engineers and technicians, and provide opportunities and resources for them to grow and succeed.

Also, this position gives me the opportunity to influence the direction of the bridge industry in Idaho and nationwide.“

ITD Chief Highway Engineer Blake Rindlisbacher, who will supervise Johnson’s new position, is also excited about the announcement.

“I’m excited to welcome Mike to his new role as State Bridge Engineer. Mike started his career with ITD over 30 years ago, when he was a part of ITD’s Engineer in Training program alongside (Division of Highways Construction & Operations Administrator) Dave Kuisti and I.  He then worked as a consulting engineer for a number of years before returning to ITD.  We are fortunate to have Mike on our team, and I’m confident that Idaho will continue to deliver a high quality bridge program under his leadership.”

Construction continues in Kellogg to replace two I-90 overpasses

Aerial shot of finished construction last year

Next week the Idaho Transportation Department will start the final construction season to improve safety by replacing the Interstate 90 overpasses at Division Street and Elizabeth Park Road in Kellogg.

Crews will first complete work to improve drainage throughout the work zone. After several weeks, crews will move onto replacing the westbound bridges, including full demolition and reconstruction. The final construction activities will include repaving both streets under the overpasses.

Construction is anticipated to start Monday, February 6, at which time traffic on I-90 will be restricted to one lane in each direction at all times through October.

Motorists should plan for the following impacts:

Division Street:

  • Both lanes will be open under the I-90 overpass with periodic closures as needed.
  • On-street parking under the overpass will not be allowed.
  • Sidewalks will be closed under I-90 with a signed pedestrian detour.

Elizabeth Park Road:

  • Drivers can expect one-way alternating traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals on Elizabeth Park Road under I-90.
  • In addition to the daily construction schedule, Elizabeth Park Road will be closed for several nights as crews complete work. Digital message boards will provide warnings at least one week in advance of any road closures.

In 2022 crews replaced the eastbound bridges and widened the eastbound on-ramp at Division Street.

The bridges date back to the 1960s. For up-to-date information on this project, please visit

Construction will also begin later this spring in the Osburn area. Over the next two years, ITD will resurface I-90 from the Big Creek Exit to West Wallace Exit. This year crews will replace concrete with asphalt between Osburn and Wallace, and next year they will work between Big Creek and Wallace. Drivers can expect one lane closure in each direction on I-90 at all times during each construction season.

Travelers should check to learn about traffic impacts.

Load restrictions to start again this Friday, be in place indefinitely

Long line of cars behind a truckLong line of cars behind a truck

Coeur d’Alene – In recent days, Idaho has experienced above average temperatures and precipitation which can lead to significant damage to highways, prompting state and local transportation agencies to enforce load restrictions. In an effort to reduce damage to roadways, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has made the decision to restrict several routes in North Idaho.

Starting in the evening hours of Friday (Feb. 3) load limit restrictions will be in place on four state highways in the region: SH-3, SH-5, SH-54 and SH-53. Crews will continue to closely monitor road and weather conditions to determine if more routes will be subject to load restrictions in the coming days and weeks.

“Earlier this week we were able to lift the restrictions as weather conditions stabilized, but looking ahead we need to reinstate them on the same highways as before, plus now on SH-53 from the Washington State Line to US-95,” Operations Engineer Ryan Hawkins said. “On two-lane highways like SH-53, commuters will need to plan extra time to get to their destinations and expect to be slowed down by commercial vehicles respecting the restrictions.”

Learn more about why these restrictions are important by watching this video.

Restrictions on state highways are noted on or on the app, which was just updated last week, in the trucker mode. They apply to trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. On state highways, vehicles of this size are required to reduce their speeds to 30 mph and weigh no more than 14,000 pounds per axle. On U.S. highways, they still must reduce their speed to 30 mph but can weigh more in accordance with legally permitted loads. Breakup restrictions are not applied on interstates.

While restrictions have the potential to cause significant congestion on highways with a mix of commercial and commuter traffic, they are a necessary preventative measure that ultimately reduces impacts and costs to drivers and citizens in the long term.

As temperatures increase, the frozen base underneath the road thaws and becomes saturated with water, which creates a weaker section below the pavement that can lead to potholes and cracks. Heavy loads can cause rapid deterioration of pavement in these conditions.

Damage may result in months of additional repairs in the summer, diverting maintenance dollars from being invested into other routes.

These restrictions are only in place as long as necessary and save taxpayer dollars from being spent on damage that could have been prevented.

Extreme Cold May Result in Additional Road Closures

A snowy highway in East Idaho

RIGBY – As extreme cold continues in East Idaho, the Idaho Transportation Department is asking motorists to plan ahead and check the website before hitting the roads. “It’s vitally important that drivers are paying close attention to current conditions,” said ITD Public Information Officer Justin Smith. “We always try to keep roads open, but when conditions become unsafe for our plow drivers we have to close the roads to protect everyone.”

Smith also noted that drivers checking the 511 website or using the newly updated version of the 511 app might see a webcam of one portion of the road that looks fine, but other sections may not be safe. “With the changes in altitude at places like the Ashton Hill conditions can be vastly different from Idaho Falls or Henry’s Lake.”

Those changing conditions can also be dangerous. The National Weather Service announced over the weekend that wind chills are dropping to -15°F to -40°F. At -30°F exposed skin can freeze in as little as 10 minutes. That means motorists must be sure to have their vehicle serviced. A poorly maintained vehicle can leave someone stranded.

AAA notes ( several other precautions motorists should take:

  • Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing (including additional clothing for every passenger), a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
  • Stay home and only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.

It is especially important to consider children, the disabled, and elderly who may be passengers. “Sometimes we forget that children and vulnerable adults do not have the ability to maintain body temperature. Kids like to go out without enough cold weather protection, but parents should ensure there are coats, hats, gloves, and other necessities are available if needed,” Smith said.

This winter has become more challenging as District 6 has lost a number of plow drivers leaving 17 vacant positions open. “We do have a few relief plow drivers to help with the vacancies, but it’s not enough to take the pressure off,” said Bryan Young. “This number includes employees who are retiring or are out for extended health reasons. We do have a few new hires, but they will not be 100% this winter.”

The vacant positions may make it necessary to close roads sooner than motorists may be used to. When fully staffed multiple plow drivers can work the same highway from both directions. However, with fewer plows on the road it may not be possible to keep a road open. This is especially the case where snowfall is heavy and strong winds are blowing.

ITD has also been dealing with numerous plow strikes and drivers making dangerous maneuvers around plows. So far 13 plows have been hit this season. Most of those incidents were related to drivers going too fast for conditions and passing plows on the right.


Crews beginning I-15 Blackfoot bridge repair after overnight road breakup

I-15 road surface breakup

POCATELLO – Idaho Transportaion Department crews are currently working on the northbound bridge of I-15 just north of Blackfoot to repair the road surface following damage that occurred last night. The cause of the problem is still under investigation, but road breakup is common following cycles of warm and cold weather.

Traffic is down to one lane as crews begin repairs on the right lane. Tomorrow traffic will also be down to one lane to allow crews to perform preventative maintenance on the passing lane to ensure the problem does not spread.

Motorists should slow down as they approach the work zone and plan for some delays.

New Idaho 511 app and updated website are now live

BOISE – Upgrade how you navigate the state! The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has launched a new Idaho 511 App and updated the website. Starting today, January 23, 2023, drivers will need to download a new version to their mobile devices. The web address,, and phone number, dial 511, will stay the same.

The old Idaho 511 app and the Idaho 511 Trucking app will not be supported after today, and users could miss crucial travel information if they don’t switch over. There is no dedicated trucking app with the new system. However, the new app has trucking information settings that users can turn on

The new Idaho 511 app has all the same tools to help you plan your trips, plus additional features. The new app displays special events that might impact travel, seven-day weather forecasts, highway oasis locations, and more. You can create an account, save custom routes and sign up for notifications when your routes are impacted. If you had an account with the previous 511 system, you will need to make a new account to save routes and set up notifications.

511 is a public service of the Idaho Transportation Department to help travelers access information about road conditions, traffic incidents, weather, and tourism information via the phone, on the web, or by smartphone app, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  511 provides continual updates about weather-related road conditions, road work, commercial vehicle restrictions, road closures, and other travel information.

2022 sees reduction in Idaho traffic fatalities, grants available to continue the trend

BOISE – Idaho saw a reduction in traffic fatalities in 2022. Last year, 219 people were killed in crashes on Idaho roads, according to preliminary data from the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS). This is a 19 percent decrease from 271 deaths in 2021.

“It is nice to see progress, but 219 distinct tragedies show we still have a lot of work to do,” said OHS Manager Josephine Middleton. “These deaths have a profound impact on families, friends, and communities. We want to work with partners across the state to prevent future tragedies.”

OHS is accepting grant applications for Federal Fiscal Year 2024 (October 2023-September 2024). The goal is to eliminate deaths and serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes by helping fund traffic safety projects. Local governments, law enforcement, school districts, colleges, universities, and non-profits are all encouraged to apply. Examples of past grant projects include enhanced police patrols for impaired driving, Seat Check Saturday for child passenger safety, pedestrian and bike safety education, and more.

Grant proposals must focus on influencing positive driver behavior.

“We know most Idahoans want to do the right thing behind the wheel. It’s who we are,” said Middleton. “These grants are about empowering people by providing the knowledge and resources to make their communities safer places to walk, bike, and drive.”

Applications are open now and close on February 28, 2023. Virtual pre-application training is available on Wednesday, January 25, at 9 a.m. MST and Thursday, February 2, at 2 p.m. MST. Email to register. 

Go to to learn more and apply for a grant.

Idaho Serves Military Veterans Through CDL Waiver

The Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is working to bring more veterans and military members into the commercial trucking industry. Idaho offers two forms of commercial driver’s license (CDL) testing waivers for people with experience driving commercial vehicles in the military.

In the past, applicants needed to print and fill out the forms by hand. In late 2021, DMV team members Heather Perkins, John Barsness, and Caleb Forrey decided to transition to fillable forms to improve customer service. The fillable forms are easier on the applicant and faster to review because the fields are typed rather than handwritten.

Now in 2023, with streamlined forms, the DMV has launched new ways to spread the word about the program. The DMV is promoting military CDL waivers with social-media posts and a new poster that will be distributed to county DMV offices, ports of entry, and military and national guard bases.

Overnight lane reductions next week on the Perrine Bridge

Image of the Perrine Bridge at night

On Tuesday (Jan. 17) crews will close lanes on the Perrine Bridge to replace luminaire wiring. To help lessen impacts to commuters, work will take place after 9:00 p.m.

“This work is dependent on the weather and may need to be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur,” ITD Project Manager John Keifer stated. “Crews should be able to move quickly, and we anticipate all work being completed in one night.”

While workers are on the bridge, traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction.

Motorists are advised to drive engaged and watch for crews and equipment in the area.