Bridge rehabilitation to begin construction today on the ID-31 Pine Creek bridge

SWAN VALLEY – To increase the longevity of the bridge, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will begin construction on the ID-31 Pine Creek bridge starting today.

“This bridge rehabilitation will entail replacing the bridge expansion joints, re-surfacing of the bridge deck, repairing the storm water drains, improving the erosion control on the bridge embankment, replacing the guardrail at the approaches, improving the bridge approaches and finishing with new pavement,” said ITD Project Manager Eli Robinson, “This project will greatly improve and extend the lifespan of the bridge.”

The Pine Creek bridge construction will begin today and is expected to be completed by late fall.

Drivers can expect traffic delays for the duration of the project. Reduced speed limits will be effect and traffic will be reduced to one-lane with traffic signals in place.

Please remember to pay attention, obey traffic laws and plan your commute accordingly. ITD would like to remind drivers that traffic fines are doubled in work zones. Please check 511.Idaho.gov for current road conditions.

As winter melts away, spring brings new driving precautions

US-12 slide near Kamiah from April 2019

ITD crews, including our most dedicated snow plow operators, look forward to the onset of spring. But, the new season brings new challenges. Spring is a time of transition, and fluctuating temperatures can make it one of the busiest seasons for our employees. As winter melts away, please be mindful of the below scenarios and take precautions.

Problems can pop up quickly — whether it’s a series of deep, tire-damaging potholes in the fast lane or massive mudslides that block key routes in just minutes. Responding to these situations can be challenging as crews switch from long hours of nighttime snow plowing to daytime repairs.

Some repairs — like patching potholes — have to be done with multiple treatments since they’re not as effective in cold weather. Other repairs may need to wait until trucks currently outfitted with plows can be converted to haul other materials.

This transition from winter to spring applies to drivers, too. You still need to be prepared for winter conditions, especially when traveling over mountain passes. Spring is an excellent time to change out wiper blades and check tires to prep your car for wet roads. Shadowed corners can be icy on cold mornings, and storms can mix rain and snow as you gain elevation. In periods of heavy rain, vigilantly watching for rocks or objects in the road can prevent a dangerous collision.

When the weather warms up, so does the desire to get outside. It’s important to watch the road not just for hazards such as fallen rocks and adverse weather conditions but to also take extra precautions and be on the lookout for motorcyclists, bicyclists, children at play and even wildlife.

As ITD crews switch to springtime tasks, make the switch too by planning for changing road conditions. Be sure to check 511.idaho.gov for alerts before you hit the road to stay safe while you travel.

Intersection improvements to N 4100 E on ID-48 to begin Monday with irrigation pipe work

RIGBY – Construction will start on Monday, March 23 and continue through March 27 to make improvements to the intersection of ID-48 & N 4100 E. Crews will be replacing, moving and improving the irrigation pipe at this intersection.

The contractor is building the project at this time to make the appropriate improvements while there is no irrigation water running in the ditch.

This is the first of four project phases. The next phase is expected to begin this June, as ITD adds turn lanes at the above intersection. These changes are to improve the safety to the intersection and reduce traffic delays.

Expect temporary traffic delays during construction. The eastbound and westbound lanes on ID-48 will have traffic control set up to one-way traffic from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Expect traffic delays of up to 15 minutes until the project is completed.

Traffic will also be detoured to N 4200 E and N 4000 E to access N 4100 E from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Traffic will be opened to two lanes on ID-48 overnight on weeknights, starting at 7 p.m.

Please remember to pay attention, obey traffic laws and plan your commute accordingly. ITD would like to remind drivers that traffic fines are doubled in work zones. Please check 511.Idaho.gov for current road conditions.

Tree removal at the Orofino Airport underway, with impacts to US-12 next week

A car passes the Orofino Airport on US-12

Trees along US-12 near the Orofino Airport will be removed next week to improve safety for flyers and drivers.

In recent years, the trees have grown taller and thicker, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to ask the City of Orofino to remove those that are encroaching on the runway. Some trees are on property owned by the Idaho Transportation Department, which supports their removal to enhance safety by decreasing shade in winter months and improve drivers’ line of sight.

Starting Monday, March 23, crews will start removing trees between US-12 and the airport. They are expected to be on site from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for up to five days. A helicopter will transport the logs to another part of the grounds for processing.

When crews are on scene, the westbound slow lane will be closed. All westbound traffic will be stopped for up to 15 minutes when larger trees with the capacity to reach the road are felled. All lanes will be open when there is no active work.

Work is already underway to remove trees on the north side of the airport. Any questions may be directed to the City of Orofino at (208) 476-4725.

ITD issues 90-day extension on expiring credentials, encourages use of online services

To reduce large gatherings of people, the Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Motor Vehicle is instituting a 90-day extension on some credentials. The public is also encouraged to use the DMV’s online services rather than go to the county sheriffs’ and assessors’ offices for essential services.

The 90-day extension applies to driver’s licenses and non-commercial registration. If one of these credentials expires between March 1st and May 31st of 2020, you will have until June 30th 2020 to renew.  Many of these can be renewed online.

“As each county office decides the best way to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, ITD is committed to providing remote services online, by mail, or over the phone,” said ITD’s Division of Motor Vehicle Administrator Alberto Gonzalez. “Much of the business the public needs to do with the DMV can be done through one of those methods. This balances the need to preserve public safety with the need for essential government services to keep people and products moving.”

County offices are managed by both the county sheriff’s office and county assessor’s office. In total, there are 88 county DMV jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has the authority to close its offices or change the way to conduct business.

Some county DMV offices have already closed and others are considering it. ITD encourages the public to call their county office before leaving to see the current status. Contact information for each office can be found at itd.idaho.gov/itddmv.

The following services are available online, through mail, or over the phone.

  • Driver’s license renewal (not for first-time Star Card)
  • Acquiring a replacement driver’s license or identification card
  • Paying driver’s license reinstatement fees
  • Purchasing a driving record
  • Vehicle registration renewal
  • Ordering personalized license plates
  • Checking status of vehicle plates and titles
  • Commercial vehicle oversize/overweight permits
  • Commercial vehicle registrations

Please note, the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline to use a Star Card (Idaho’s REAL ID) or other federally-approved identification for federal security at airports, military bases, or federal courts is outside the control of the State of Idaho. ITD and the Governor’s Office is in communication with our Congressional Delegation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House regarding this matter in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Temporary speed limit reductions begin Monday in East Idaho on several local highways to preserve roads, vehicles

EAST IDAHO – Recent winter storms and fluctuating temperatures have caused potholes to develop along roadways in Eastern Idaho. To ensure the safety to the traveling public, ITD will be temporarily reducing speed limits on several local highways in East Idaho beginning Monday, March 9 and continuing through May to protect vehicles and preserve roads from further damage.

Crews will lower the speed limit to 55 mph on the following highways:

  • US-20 from Chester to Ashton
  • ID-32 from Ashton to Tetonia
  • ID-33 from US-20/26 junction to I-15
  • ID-33 from Sugar City to Victor
  • ID-22 from Dubois to ID-33 junction
  • ID-47 from Ashton to milepost 7

ITD will also be temporarily lowering the speed limit to 30 mph for all commercial vehicles 10,000 GVWR or greater in the above areas. As spring breakup approaches, ITD crews will continue to repair potholes and monitor road conditions.

In addition, ITD has a project planned in the Idaho Transportation Investment Program that will see ID-33 repaved within the next few years.

Individuals traveling in the area are encouraged to pay attention, slow down and drive with caution. Please visit the improved 511.idaho.gov for updated road information.

Rock removal to begin next week on US-95 at Winchester Hill

The final season of work on a two-year project to extend the southbound passing lane on US-95 near Winchester another 2.5 miles has begun. It is expected to finish in November.

The first road closure to accomodate blasting activities for rock removal is planned for March 12 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Blasting is scheduled to avoid peak commute times or weekends and is expected to last for an hour at a time. Drivers should heed digital signs in the area or visit 511.idaho.gov to avoid closures.

Other construction activities will require reduced speeds in the work zone, with crews expected on site during the day from around 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and at nights when needed. No work is expected on weekends at this time.

Last year, blasting made room for 1.5 miles of passing lane to be added in the narrow canyon, and this year that surface will be paved. Of the nine aging culverts in this section, four still need to be upgraded to allow for fish passage.

Traffic to shift on US-30 in Cassia County starting next week

As early as March 10, traffic will shift on US-30 between Parke Avenue and 400 West Road in Burley. This is part of a highway widening and utility improvement project that has been underway since February of this year and is expected to finish this fall. The work will enhance the safety of drivers and enhance mobility.

“With this project, we will see the roadway transition from a two lane highway to a four lane highway for an approximate four mile stretch,” said ITD South-central Idaho Project Manager Kenny Lively.

Flaggers and pilot cars will be present during working hours – 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Drivers can expect reduced speeds and minor delays near the work zone and are encouraged to find an alternate route.

“In addition to the two eastbound and westbound lanes, we will also be building a center turn lane,” said Lively. “This will provide easier access to businesses in the area and improve safety for motorists.”

Western Construction Inc. is the prime contractor for this project.

Heavy loads required to reduce speed on US-95 and US-2 in North Idaho

Spring breakup limit sign near US-95 and US-2 junction north of Bonners Ferry

With roads alternatively freezing and thawing this spring, the Idaho Transportation Department has placed speed restrictions on heavy loads on US-95 and US-2 to protect the pavement.

Heavier trucks must slow down on US-95 north of Bonners Ferry to the Canadian border, US-2 from the US-95 junction to the Montana border and the entirety of Idaho Highway 1. Details on exact limits are found on the drivers’ version of 511.idaho.gov.

“If you find yourself stuck behind trucks moving at 30 mph, this is why,” Foreman George Shutes said. “I know it’s frustrating, but these restrictions help keep the road together and save taxpayer dollars in the long run.”

When the frozen bases of highways thaw and temperatures increase, water saturates the base and creates a weaker section below the pavement that can lead to potholes and cracks. Reducing the speed at which heavier loads travel helps avoid excessive and unnecessary damage.

“This is something we do every year to prevent accelerated deterioration on highways,” Shutes said. “If we didn’t limit the damage through speed reductions, we’d never be able to fix it with our current resources.”

Spring breakup limits are enforced only as long as necessary to limit inconvenience to other drivers.

First Tracks – Teens and Winter Driving

Teen Driving Distracted

It’s a weekend tradition for many Idaho families – heading up to snowy mountains to ski or board together. Parents often put quite a bit of time, lessons and teaching moments into making sure their kids have fun and learn safety on the hill.

In the same way, learning to drive in winter weather can be a challenge, and teens have a few extra obstacles to overcome as brand new drivers. Just like ski lessons, teens need a little help to be prepared and safe on winter roads.

Emily Kormylo, Idaho’s Driver Education Coordinator, says winter is a popular time for parents to enroll their teen in drivers ed. Parents hope the winter conditions will help their teens learn driving skills in challenging situations that can help them year-round. And for a good reason —  teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car. (as reported by NHTSA)

How can you – as a parent – help?

Practice

In addition to enrolling your teen in drivers ed, help your teen practice their winter driving skills. Go to a parking lot to practice on ice, in low-visibility and snowy conditions. Talk about road conditions they may encounter even in early spring – like icy corners on rural highways or obscured lane lines when snow piles up. Make sure your car is winter-ready and check road conditions at 511.idaho.gov before any road trip.

Leave early and slow down

For most teens, mornings are not their favorite time of day. But rushing around and running late can make driving on slick roads even more stressful.

Speed is a significant factor in winter crashes. One out of every five crashes in Idaho involves a youthful driver. Younger drivers, especially teens, also showed more risk of contributing factors in crashes like speeding, inattention and tailgating.

While the message is simple, slowing down and buckling up are simple ways teens can stay safe on the roads.

Minimize Distractions

We know teens are more susceptible to distractions behind the wheel, especially if friends are in the car. Distractions could include:

  • Texting or talking on the phone
  • Eating
  • Loud music or conversations with friends

Encourage your teen to be an engaged driver, in the moment, focused on the road.

Be the Driver You Want Them to Be

Parents, sometimes what you say isn’t nearly as loud as what you do. Especially when it comes to what you do in the car. Be an engaged driver. Slow down in inclement weather. Wear your seat belt and put down the phone. Your kids and teens are watching you for good driving habits.

Visit Shift-idaho.org/idahoready for winter driving tips, including info on winter emergency kits and pointers for new-to-snow drivers.