Get your CDL medical certificate through a registered provider

A truck climbs a hill

Is your Commercial Driver Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876) coming from an FMCSA-registered medical examiner? As of February, medical examiners are required to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Using a medical provider who is not on FMCSA’s national registry could lead to a downgrade of your commercial driver’s license (CDL) if it is not fixed within 45 days.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has received a few Medical Examiner’s Certificates from providers that have been removed from the registry. Those drivers who didn’t use a registered provider will need to book new appointments with someone on the registry and submit a new Form MCSA-5876 to ITD.

Save yourself time and hassle by looking up registered providers on FMCSA’s website before booking an appointment: https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov/home

SH-16 closure planned for Saturday in Emmett

The Idaho Transportation Department will close State Highway 16 between Johns Avenue and Cherry Lane in Emmett this Saturday.

The SH-16 overnight closure will begin at 7 p.m. April 13 and reopen to traffic the following day. The closure is necessary in order to replace an irrigation pipe beneath the highway. Traffic control will be in place with a detour routing traffic onto Johns Avenue and Cherry Lane.

Drivers can utilize the Idaho 511 system by phone, online, or through the app for updated closure information.

Full overnight closure on SH-16 From Johns Avenue to Cherry Lane April 13

Nighttime detour planned for I-15/I-86 System Interchange this week

Beginning Wednesday evening and continuing through Friday morning, nighttime closures will be in place for a section of Interstate 15 and Interstate 86 at the System Interchange to allow crews to safely place girders for one of the new I-86 eastbound to I-15 northbound bridges.

The I-15 northbound to I-86 westbound ramp will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights. Drivers looking to head west on I-86 from I-15 will be detoured to the Northgate Interchange.

Ongoing construction at the System Interchange will improve safety and mobility while replacing bridges built in the 1960s. Work is expected to be complete in 2025.

Motorists should exercise caution while travelling through the construction zone. Those wishing to receive email updates about the System Interchange project can sign up at https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/g9MMkN9.

Drivers can also check or download the 511 app for the last traffic conditions on all state highways and freeways.

New signal at SH-75 and Ohio Gulch goes live April 11th

New signal at SH-75 and Ohio Gulch goes live April 11th

The new traffic signal installed on State Highway 75 at Ohio Gulch Road north of Hailey is complete and will go live on Thursday, April 11.

The number of lanes remain the same and align with the signal lights. Drivers should be aware that the signal is there and active and be prepared to stop if needed.

The traffic light was originally slated to go live on April 15th, but crews were able to complete the project early.

For more information about projects in your area go to 511.idaho.gov.

Idaho DMV has new phone numbers for customers

Beginning today, April 8, Idahoans will need to dial new phone numbers to reach the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV has new phone service provider which required changing phone numbers. With the new provider, the DMV will be able to offer better customer service and faster calls. 

The new numbers are as follows: 

  • The new DMV general customer line is 208-584-4343 
  • The new DMV commercial vehicle customer line is 208-872-3163  

The “old” DMV number, 208-334-8000, will still be in service for Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) business not related to DMV. For a period of time, customers who call ITD looking for the DMV will be given the new number. 

“We take about 2,000 calls a day at the DMV,” explained DMV administrator Lisa McClellan, “We’ve been working since early February, setting up and testing the new system to ensure a smooth transition for all those customers.” 

The DMV’s business hours are 8 am to 5 pm Mountain Time, Monday to Friday. In addition to calling the DMV, customers can complete over a dozen transactions online at any time of day or night at dmv.idaho.gov, or visit a county office to have their questions answered in person. County business hours vary by location. 

Traffic shift in SH-53 work zone in Rathdrum

Aerial view of SH-53 looking north from Mill Street

 

The Idaho Transportation Department is widening State Highway 53 and replacing existing sidewalks in Rathdrum to improve safety and mobility for drivers and pedestrians. Construction resumed in March and is anticipated to be complete by late fall. So far crews have intermittently reduced SH-53 to one lane with flaggers but that will be changing soon.

“In the next week, we plan to stripe the temporary lanes we built on the north side earlier this spring and shift traffic onto them,” Project Manager Steven Bakker said. “This will mean we can keep one lane open in each direction this year. Our goal is to get it done before the rain this weekend, but if it doesn’t happen tomorrow it’ll happen early next week.”

The widening between Rathdrum City Park (Latah Street) and Sylte Ranch Road will add a continuous center-turn lane and a designated right-turn lane to access Bingham Street. Both additions will keep through traffic moving while providing a safe area for turning drivers.

Drivers can expect the following conditions during construction:

  • One lane of traffic in each direction on SH-53 from early April through completion
  • Pedestrian access maintained through the work zone
  • Speed limit reduced to 25 mph
  • Short-term closures of side streets
  • Reduced parking along SH-53
  • Narrowed lanes

Later this year, Mill Street will be closed for up to four weeks as crews widen SH-53 past this intersection. Updates will be provided with more specific details regarding this closure at a later date. Drivers are asked to follow on-street signage for side-street closures, detour routes, and other construction impacts to safely pass through the work zone. Updates are also available on Idaho 511 to help drivers plan their travel.

“Our goal is to minimize impacts to local businesses and drivers,” Bakker said. “We are working to keep traffic flowing, while ultimately constructing a safer corridor for all users.”

The first stages of this project took place in 2023 as crews extended a culvert for Rathdrum Creek and built ditches to enhance drainage west of the city park.

This project is part of a larger effort to enhance safety on the SH-53 corridor between the Washington state line and Rathdrum. To sign up for email updates or for more information on this project or SH-53 corridor-wide plans, visit itdprojects.idaho.gov/pages/sh53corridor or email info@sh53corridor.com.

Community invited to learn about new studies on US-95 and SH-8 in Latah County

Aerial view of Moscow taken from a drone.

The Idaho Transportation Department will host a series of public meetings this month about two new planning environmental linkages studies on U.S. Highway 95 and State Highway 8. The purpose of these studies is to determine purposeful investments in the transportation network to improve safety and mobility and serve the communities and regional economic needs on US-95 between Snow Road and the Latah/Benewah County line, and on SH-8 between the Washington state line and Troy. Community members are invited to meet with the study team, review and comment on the draft Purpose and Need Statements, and provide suggestions for potential improvements.

The meetings will take place:

  • Tuesday, April 9 from 4:30 – 7 p.m.
    • Potlatch Jr.-Sr. High School, Multipurpose Room (130 6th St., Potlatch ID)
  • Wednesday, April 10 from 4:30 – 7 p.m.
    • Best Western Plus University Inn (1516 West Pullman Rd, Moscow ID)
  • Thursday, April 11 from 4:30 – 7 p.m.
    • Troy Elementary School, Gymnasium (103 Trojan Dr., Troy ID)
  • Online, from April 9 – 23 

“Community input is a fundamental part of this early process,” said ITD Project Engineer Janet Zarate. “This is just the first of many opportunities that will be available to the community to participate and provide feedback on these projects.”

ITD will use community  input to help identify and develop potential improvements and alternatives for the study areas. ITD will host another series of public meetings to share those ideas in early 2025.

More information about the studies is available at itdprojects.idaho.gov/pages/sh8-us95-pel.

Public safety partners in North Idaho take a new approach to DUI crash reduction

Presentation for the North Idaho DUI Task Force

 

North Idaho is a special place – pristine lakes, snowcapped mountains, and lush forests make it a destination for thrill seekers and those who love the outdoors. Fine restaurants, spas, and resorts bring in tourists and celebrities from around the world. Rugged refinement makes Idaho’s Panhandle one of the most unique places to live or visit in the state.

The combination of freedom-loving locals and visitors who come to let their hair down has a definite appeal, but it also has a dark side. In 2017, the biggest city in the region, Coeur d’Alene, was given the designation as the “Drunkest City in Idaho.” All too often, bad decisions in the region’s restaurants, bars, and breweries were turning into bad decisions on its roads.

Over the next two years, two very high-profile tragedies struck the panhandle community. The first came in 2017 when a Kootenai County Sheriff’s Deputy’s son was killed on Interstate 90 after being broadsided by a drunk driver. The second occurred in 2019 when the Allen family was returning home on US-95 when they were struck by a drunk driver. 39-year-old Ryan Allen, who lived a majority of his life confined to a wheelchair after having been paralyzed in a previous DUI crash at the age of 11, was killed. These incidents, coupled with the not-so-glamorous claim of being the booziest community in the state, served as a catalyst for change.

Outraged by the proliferation of overconsumption, flippant disregard for safety and heartbreaking, preventable losses, public safety agencies across northern Idaho banded together to take a collaborative approach to moving the needle on statistics when it came to serious injury and fatality impaired driving crashes in Kootenai County.

Agency leaders from the Idaho State Police, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, and four city police departments responded with the creation of the North Idaho DUI Task Force in 2019. The team’s inaugural enforcement operation kicked off on St. Patrick’s Day weekend and included a public briefing ceremony, local media coverage, and allowed officers the ability to work outside of their primary jurisdictions over the holiday weekend to target saturated enforcement efforts on the highest risk areas like the bar districts in cities across Kootenai County.

Since then, the DUI Task Force has grown to include 15 city, county, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies and has planned and executed similar enforcement operations surrounding major holidays and local events annually over the past five years. In that time, the team also recognized that in order to instigate a cultural shift toward sober driving, they also had to deploy a strategy for targeted education and engagement with the community.

“We realized this wasn’t a problem we were going to arrest our way out of,” said ISP Sergeant Justin Scotch. With that understanding, coupled with a healthy dose of support from the Office of Highway Safety, and armed with Idaho Transportation Department’s District 1 Public Information Officer as a liaison for community outreach, the team has become a buzzworthy presence on social media and at regional community events to engage with the public on the importance of safe decisions and sober driving.

Outreach efforts have built a following of over 4,500 people across all platforms, and in 2024 these outreach efforts consistently reach nearly a quarter million people from around the region.

Recognizing the success of the team’s innovative approach to targeted outreach, OHS has played a key role in supporting ongoing communication efforts by coordinating resources available through grants and partnership with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to fund digital billboards, dynamic messaging signs on highways, electronic jukebox advertisements inside bars, and paid ad campaigns for social media. They also provide grant opportunities to law enforcement agencies that help to supplement overtime costs for additional officers during mobilizations throughout the year targeted not only at impaired driving, but also to enhance enforcement of behaviors like aggressive driving, distracted driving and seat belt use.

When it comes to the metric for measuring the success of this team, it’s difficult to pinpoint based on the theoretical value of the work that they do. No one will ever know who is living among us today because someone made the right choice to not drive impaired. However, when looking at statistics this data would suggest that the ongoing efforts and coordinated outreach by the DUI Task Force has inevitably made a positive impact on the local community and continues to drive behavioral changes.

Since the task force’s inception, District 1 has experienced an overall downward trend in the number of impairment crash deaths, while also experiencing a decrease in the number of DUI arrests being made collectively by police agencies.

Between 2022 and 2023, North Idaho (District 1) experienced an overall 8% increase in the total number of fatality crashes, regardless of the cause. However, during that same timeframe, North Idaho saw a 15% reduction in impairment-related crashes, a 33% reduction in the number of impairment-related fatality crashes, and a 38% reduction in deaths due to impairment related crashes.

While the total number of crashes, fatal crashes, and deaths due to impairment related factors was also on the decline across the state from 2022 to 2023, North Idaho experienced a reduction in those numbers at over twice the rate (based on preliminary data from the Office of Highway Safety).

The growing presence of this team, coupled with its apparent success, has caught the eye of other regional public safety entities, not only within Idaho, but in other states. In February, members of ITD and ISP were invited by the Oregon Transportation Department to join forces and provide training in eastern Oregon for regional police, safety and community partners aimed at aiding them in replicating a model of the DUI Task Force of their own.

In its early days, the Task Force was primarily enforcement-based and arrest-focused, but has since recognized the greater value in proactive education to help shape and shift social norms surrounding impaired driving.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but being relentless in the use of our collective voice to shift social norms is something that’s entirely possible,” said PIO Heather McDaniel. “If you were to tell someone from 30 years ago that one day the thought of smoking in an airport or a restaurant would be completely taboo, they’d laugh in your face,” she said. “But look at us now! That’s the shift in mindset we are trying to create toward impaired driving.”

The saying goes that it takes a village, and over the years this team has learned time and again that holds true! When it comes to saving lives it’s not just law enforcement who is responsible for affecting change. From transportation, corrections, and judicial agencies to the healthcare community, education system, private enterprise, and even you and me, we all play a role in shaping the safety of our future.

By committing to the principles of partnership and taking a collaborative approach to combating the impaired driving epidemic, we are all one step closer to getting there.

Scaling on US-93 north of Salmon to cause delays in April

Scalers dislodging loose rock above the highway

Drivers on U.S. Highway 93 north of Salmon should plan for 20-minute delays in April as crews scale rocky slopes above the highway. Professional scalers will clear loose rock to reduce the risk of debris falling to the road during spring freeze-thaw cycles, animal migration and rain events, which can occur year round.

Work will begin Tuesday between Fourth of July Creek and Wagon Hammer Springs. Over the next two weeks crews are expected on site each weekday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. They will close the highway for 20 minutes at a time to knock down rocks, pause work and clear the road and then reopen to allow waiting vehicles to pass through.

There will be no delays outside of working hours unless a safety concern is encountered that needs immediate attention.

As part of this project, crews will also repair rock netting already in place and install more of it to cover a greater area. Crews will return in the fall to complete installing new rockfall mesh at this site.

Travelers are reminded to check 511.idaho.gov to be aware of impacts from work zones like this one.

ITD seeks feedback on project to improve SH-44 from I-84 to Star Road at open houses

SH-44

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is hosting two open houses next week to present and gather feedback on alternative alignments for State Highway 44 from Interstate 84 to Star Road. ITD will collect feedback from the public both at the in-person open house and via an online survey.

Details for the open houses are below:

  • Wednesday, April 3, at Star Fire Protection District at 11665 W State Street, Ste. B in Star – 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. (drop in anytime)
  • Thursday, April 4, at Middleton Middle School at 511 W Main Street in Middleton – 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. (drop in anytime)

The same information will be available at both in-person open houses. A virtual open house with identical information will also be available from April 3 through April 17 at: https://itdprojects.idaho.gov/pages/sh44pel.

“We encourage everyone to join us at an upcoming open house to share their feedback. Your input is crucial as we make informed decisions to advance this project, meeting both the present needs and future travel demands in this growing area,” Project Manager Mark Wasdahl said.

In this initial study phase, ITD is implementing the Federal Highway Administration’s Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) process to identify and screen transportation improvements. Once improvements have been chosen, the project will transition into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase.

To learn more about the project and sign up for email updates, please visit: https://itdprojects.idaho.gov/pages/sh44pel.