Getting panhandle drivers “Idaho Ready” for winter!

ISP Trooper and ITD plow driver teaching during a winter driving safety class in Coeur d'Alene

Each year the Idaho Transportation Department urges people to be “Idaho Ready” for winter, and two employees in North Idaho are putting those words into action!

For anyone new here, “Idaho Ready” is a campaign rolled out each year through the Idaho Office of Highway Safety encouraging residents to understand that in our beautiful state there are a few strings attached when it comes to winter driving. Being prepared for conditions, understanding safety, and planning ahead are all tools that can help drivers get from point A to B successfully and safely during our cold, snowy months.

To help drivers, especially those new to the road or to Idaho, TJ Gibson and Gary Davis have stepped up to the plate volunteering to teach winter safe driving courses throughout the panhandle.

When it comes to teaching, Gary is a seasoned professional, having taught the SNOW (Safely Navigate Our Winters) curriculum in conjunction with driver education courses in Bonner County for the last two and a half years.

“This information is important for kids, not just during the fall and winter months, but all year long,” said Davis. To ensure teens during warm-weather classes receive the same information, Gary teaches this course every 2 months in Sandpoint. “I have fun working with them, and I know it makes an impact because there have been times that I’ve run into these kids with their parents in the community and they will pull mom or dad over and introduce them to me saying ‘that’s him, he was the one who taught us all about winter driving and snowplows!’”

“It feels good knowing what I do leaves a lasting impression on these kids and knowing that what I’m up here teaching them is helping to save lives.”

For the first time ever, ITD has also teamed up this fall with Idaho State Police Troopers to offer free Winter Safe Driving courses to the public. Course attendees sit through a 90-minute presentation that covers vehicle preparation, appropriate speed and steering for conditions, and crash safety by Trooper Troy Tulleners, who is featured statewide in a weekly Traffic Tip Tuesday social media vlog. The class is then rounded out by ITD plow operators explaining our snow-fighting methods, equipment and how drivers can interact safely with plows on the road.

On November 4, Gibson, Foreman of the 170 CDA Metro Crew, stood in front of an audience of over 70 teens and adults, introducing them to the world of winter-maintenance operations, road clearing and most importantly, the often-unseen but ultra-effective wing plow that is involved in a majority of strike incidents.

“Of course, when a plow gets hit, the safety of everyone involved is what we worry about most. Beyond that, you also need to understand the time and cost involved with those crashes and what the implications of that are for our force,” explained Gibson. “Each one of those machines is critical to our ability to keep the roads clear and safe, so when one goes down, that means risk goes up.”

“I live in this community too, just like you all, and I’m not immune to being stuck behind a plow every now and again too, but a little bit of patience goes a long way to keeping everyone safe and keeping those trucks on the road.”

Understanding the importance of winter-driving safety, especially when it comes to proper vehicle equipment, several local Les Schwab Tires stores have also partnered with us for these courses, offering a 10% discount on a new set of winter tires to any class participants who bring in their certificate of completion.

Veteran and ITD employee continues to help those in need

Navy Veteran and Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) worker Shawn Denham continues to answer the call of duty; it just looks different these days. Denham is part of ITD’s Incident Response team, a two-person team that aids motorists broken down on Interstate 84 in the Treasure Valley.

The day-to-day mission has no doubt changed since Denham’s five years with the Navy. Denham can now be found jump-starting vehicles, refilling a radiator, changing tires, and providing gas to those stranded along I-84. On average he drives 150 to 200 miles each day looking for motorists in need of help.

ITD’s Incident Response team began in 1997. Since that time crews have responded to well over 100,000 traffic incidents and are often the first on the scene at collisions.

Any incident that clogs the roadway has potential to create secondary crashes, which is why ITD’s Incident Response team is cruising the interstate Monday through Friday. For each minute a crash is not cleared, the chances of a secondary crash increase about three percent.

There is also significant economic benefit to the team. It’s been estimated that in Southwest Idaho, a half-hour delay in an urban setting can equate to $30,000 in lost work productivity.

Eleven percent of ITD’s workforce is made up of veterans. In total, there are 164 veterans at ITD including 12 women and 152 men. The Idaho Transportation Department wants to thank all veterans of the United States Armed Forces for their service.

Lane closures next week on the Perrine Bridge

Drone shot of the Perrine Bridge with snow on the ground

Drivers should plan for alternating lane closures next week as crews continue making repairs to the Perrine Bridge.

Next week workers will apply a sealant to both sidewalks on the bridge to protect them from weathering. The closures will be staggered so only one lane or one sidewalk will be closed at a time. Lanes will be closed so that the contractor can access the sidewalks and will be open at night when workers are not present.

  • Wednesday through Friday (Nov. 15-17)
    • The sidewalk on the west side of the bridge will close for repairs. The adjacent southbound lane will be closed.
  • Friday through Sunday (Nov. 17-19)
    • The sidewalk on the east side of the bridge will close for repairs. The adjacent northbound lane will be closed.

Maintenance will last through spring of 2024 and includes repairs to the sidewalks, the railing and cracks to extend the lifespan of the bridge. Some of the steel supports will also be painted for protection from weathering.

Activities are dependent on weather conditions. Travelers should stay up to date on impacts by visiting or downloading the 511 app.

Public invited to provide input on intersection improvements to US-26/ 45TH Ave. & 55TH Ave.

Map for Public Meeting Intersection Improvements

The Idaho Transportation Department is hosting a public meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, for the community to learn more, ask questions and provide input about two upcoming intersection improvement projects.

The public meeting will share preliminary design plans for the intersections at US-26/ 45th & 55th. The meeting will be open-house format for the community to drop in between 5 and 7 p.m. at Thunder Ridge High School in the Lecture Hall at 4941 1st Street in Idaho Falls. Information about the process, goals, benefits, and timelines for the improvements will be provided. No formal presentation will be given; however, the project team will be available to answer questions.

A self-guided virtual meeting, with the same information as the in-person experience, will also be available at the project website starting Nov. 16. The feedback survey to provide formal comment during this time is also available on the project website. It will be open through Nov. 30.

“Due to traffic increase and a rise in severe accidents, this area needs to be addressed. It is a main artery route for commuters from the east side of the state to the Idaho Falls center and access to I-15,” Project Manager Rachel Telford said. “We want this public meeting to be an opportunity for the community to be a part of helping us create safe solutions for the future.”

Join the project team at the public meeting or visit the website at  to view the virtual meeting, complete the survey online, and sign up for updates.

Office of Highway Safety offers grant training for Idaho communities

BOISE— Looking for ways to improve traffic safety in your community? The Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is offering online grant training for community partners on Thursday, November 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. Mountain Time.

Community safety advocates, organizations, municipalities, and non-profits are encouraged to attend to learn more about the grants offered by OHS. Participants will learn how to identify and document traffic safety problems for a grant, eligible projects and activities, and how to complete a grant application.

The application period for Federal Fiscal Year 2025 Grants will open in December 2023.

These grants fund projects to address specific behavior-related traffic safety issues. These behaviors include impaired driving, aggressive driving, distracted driving, seat belt use, bicycle, pedestrian, motorcycle safety, and young drivers. Grants may be awarded for assisting OHS in targeting traffic safety focus areas, expanding ongoing activities, or developing a new program or intervention.

Please email to register for the grant training session.

US-95 Aht’Wy Interchange shifts into new traffic pattern on November 16

Picture of the new pavement at the Aht'Wy Interchange project

Fall construction is progressing at the Aht’Wy Interchange  on U.S. Highway 95 near the Clearwater River Casino & Lodge RV Park, and motorists should expect a new traffic pattern starting Thursday, November 16.

Drivers will be able to travel on newly paved lanes, with eastbound traffic no longer crossed over to the westbound lanes. A concrete barrier will divide both lanes. Single lanes remain for each direction of travel and the speed limit is lowered for continual safety.

Changes will not affect either entrance to the plaza. At the west entrance, drivers are still unable to turn left from US-95 into the plaza or turn left from the plaza onto US-95.

To see a graphic for access to and from the plaza, please continue to reference this handout.

Construction will continue through the winter, and the project will remain in this traffic pattern until late spring next year. The Idaho Transportation Department and construction partners appreciate the public’s attention to these changes and continued vigilance towards safety.

The Aht’Wy Interchange will allow vehicles and pedestrians to safely cross the highway without impeding the primary flow of traffic. The interchange will feature ramps to connect plaza entrances to US-95. The project is expected to take less than two years to complete.

Updates on the Aht’Wy Interchange can be found by visiting

Road repairs on US-20 west of Idaho Falls

Route for Mill and Inlay

Mill and Inlay project west of Idaho Falls

Road construction will commence on US-20 for approximately 13 miles from milepost 301 to milepost 288 west of Idaho Falls

Work will encompass repairing the right wheel path with a cold mill and inlay process. This project is to make repairs to the existing roadway and extend the lifespan of the highway.  

Road work will take place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.  The project is expected to last approximately 2 weeks.  

Motorists should anticipate reduced speeds and traffic control with a pilot car to guide traffic through the work zone. Drivers are encouraged to watch for flaggers in the work zone. As construction continues, drivers should plan their commute accordingly. 

Please check or the 511 app for the most recent information on road work.

New bridge to open at Chubbuck exit

POCATELLO – Tomorrow afternoon the Idaho Transportation Department will open the new bridge on westbound Interstate 86 near Exit 61 for Chubbuck. Traffic patterns are expected to change between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Once the new bridge is open, westbound traffic will no longer be crossed over to the eastbound lanes. Traffic will flow normally, though westbound travelers will only have one lane.

Crews will continue working in the area for another week to open the other lanes on the bridge. Drivers are urged to follow posted speed limits and share the road.

The bridge over the Union Pacific railroad tracks was replaced to create three lanes for westbound traffic to better integrate with the redesign of the I-86 and I-15 System Interchange.

Travelers are reminded to know before they go and check for traffic impacts.

Stay safe on Idaho’s snowy roads: ITD’s winter driving tips

Hwy 20 in the snow.

BOISE— Are you “Idaho Ready” for winter driving? The Gem State is magical when it’s blanketed in snow, and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) wants to make sure everyone is prepared to enjoy it safely. Now is the time to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter conditions.

“There is so much to love about Idaho in the snow, but drivers who want to get out there and enjoy it need to be careful,” said ITD Director Scott Stokes. “Giving driving your full and undivided attention combined with an extra measure of caution could be what keeps you from having irreversible regrets.”

Your safety is ITD’s top priority. When it snows, hundreds of ITD employees work around the clock to keep our more than 12,000 lane miles of highways safe for the traveling public. But plowed roads are only one part of a safe ride this winter. Here are some steps to ensure you are “Idaho Ready.”

  • If you see a snowplow on the road, give it plenty of room to do its job. The safest place is behind the plow. Last winter, 17 people crashed into snowplows in Idaho.
  • Make sure your car is ready for winter by checking your windshield wiper fluid, battery, and tires. Consider winter tires for extra traction. If you have tire chains, learn how to put them on before you need them.
  • Create a winter car emergency kit, or if you have one from last winter make sure the supplies are in good condition.
  • Download the Idaho 511 app or bookmark so you can check road conditions before you drive.
  • It’s going to take longer to get everywhere once the snow starts falling. Plan extra time for all your trips and be patient with your fellow drivers.
  • 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.

For more winter safety driving tips visit

Detour planned for Monday at Fort Hall (Exit 80)

Construction at interchange

FORT HALL – The northbound off-ramp at the Fort Hall Interchange (Exit 80) is scheduled to close Monday at noon as crews finish paving the new off-ramp. Work is expected to be completed by 5 p.m.

The closure will last approximately four hours and is dependent on favorable weather conditions. During the closure traffic will be detoured to Exit 89.

The Fort Hall Interchange is undergoing a complete reconstruction to replace the outdated bridge and improve on- and off-ramps. The redesign also allows for the planned three lanes northbound and southbound on I-15. Those wishing to learn more about the project can visit