Idaho Transportation Department refinances GARVEE to save $13.1 million for taxpayers

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will save approximately $13.1 million in interest costs on GARVEE highway bonds. ITD worked with the Idaho Housing and Finance Association to refinance $101 million of debt by reducing interest rates from 4.5% to 2.3% on those bonds.

This is the second refinancing of GARVEE bonds completed by ITD and IHFA as part of the continuing management of this program. The first, in 2015, resulted in $12.7 million in savings.

“Through GARVEE, we are investing wisely by spending the money now to solve the transportation problems of tomorrow. We are paying less than the anticipated cost of inflation for the same construction work in years to come,” said ITD Director Brian Ness. “The GARVEE program on the whole is another example of ITD being as efficient as possible by saving money, stretching resources, and reinvesting savings back into the maintenance of our roads and bridges.”

GARVEE bonds allow ITD to finance much-needed road and bridgework, with the promise to pay back the borrowed capital during the next 18 years.

“ITD continues to look for opportunities to take advantage of favorable market conditions and ensure that we are managing our finances wisely for the taxpayers of Idaho,” said department Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur. “We apply those savings back to maintenance and improvement of our roads and bridges.”

GARVEE bonds have paid for approximately $857 million in road and bridge work in the last 10 years, including 119 miles of new roadway, 41 new or rebuilt bridges, and 14 new or rebuilt interchanges.

The Idaho Legislature approved an additional $300 million in GARVEE bonding authority during their last session, and the Idaho Transportation Board has already started to direct some of that funding toward needed projects in the Treasure Valley and in northern Idaho.

McArthur also credited ITD Controller Dave Tolman for his diligence in managing the financing transaction and work with external partners. “The ITD team will continue to monitor the market and work with our partners to identify future opportunities,” she said.

Idaho receives nearly $37 million from federal Airport Improvement Program

BOISE – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently awarded nearly $37 million in grants to Idaho airports from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

In all, 23 recipients received 32 FAA-AIP grants to maintain and improve Idaho’s airport facilities. This is the culmination of a joint federal, state, and local airport process to address air transportation in Idaho.

“Idaho’s quality airport system requires regular investment,” Idaho Division of Aeronautics Administrator Mike Pape said. “With that level of interest and commitment, Idaho will keep and improve a world-renowned airport system that services the citizens of Idaho to meet goals for mobility, safety, and economic opportunity.”

Some highlights:
– Idaho’s six primary (passenger) airports received grants totaling $28,961,834.
– Idaho’s federally eligible General Aviation airports received grants totaling $7,619,553.
– The Idaho Division of Aeronautics received a grant for $410,000 to update their Airport System Plan.

The state of Idaho, through ITD’s Division of Aeronautics, has provided an additional $1 million to assist airport owners in meeting the matching-funds obligation that is part of the FAA-AIP funding and to provide funding for small community airports that do not qualify for federal funding.

The list includes grants for these major projects:

McCarley Field/Blackfoot 
Rehabilitate Taxiway
$1,155,863

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
Rehabilitate Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Building
$3,560,586

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
Rehabilitate Taxiway & Improve Safety Area
$3,922,633

Friedman Memorial
Rehabilitate Runway, Snow Removal Equipment & Expand North Terminal Apron
$2,624,098

Idaho Falls Regional
Reconstruct Taxiways & Install Guidance Signs
$7,813,597

Jerome County 
Rehabilitate Apron & Reconstruct Taxiway
$1,137,390

Lewiston-Nez Perce County
Construct buildings for Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting, Snow Removal Equipment
$4,368,551
Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle
$598,275

Magic Valley Regional
Construct Taxiway, Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle
$1,228,658
Rehabilitate Taxiway & Reconstruct Taxiway
$3,460,768

McCall Municipal 
Reconstruct Apron
$1,250,797

Mountain Home Municipal 
Reconstruct Apron
$1,050,267

Pocatello Regional
Rehabilitate Runway 03-21, Reconstruct Taxiway, Rehabilitate Runway 17-35, Rehabilitate Taxiway, Acquire Snow-Removal Equipment
$998,437

ITD donates $10,000 for Cystic Fibrosis

RIGBY – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) donated $10,000 to the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Tuesday (Oct. 10). The gift is ITD’s prize money from winning the America’s Transportation “People’s Choice” Award for the Thornton Interchange project.

The opening of the Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg last November culminated 20 years of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built along a 34-mile stretch of the highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City. The project and the overall U.S. 20 safety improvements have reduced serious-injury crashes by 75% and cut fatalities to less than one per year in that stretch of highway.

Cystic Fibrosis hits close to home for the eastern Idaho office of ITD known as District 6. Foreman Scott Robinson’s daughter, Lina, has suffered with it since birth. The disease is a progressive, genetic malady that causes persistent lung infections and eventually limits one’s ability to breathe.

(Picture of Lina Robinson)

Lina, 20, braves three different breathing treatments every day – each of which takes an hour. She takes special enzymes with every meal to help with digestion, consumes an array of vitamins and other supplements, and eats high-calorie meals and snacks. She regularly visits doctors, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, x-ray lab technicians, and pharmacists. Prescriptions cost $15,000 per month.

“The disease is a steady challenge,” she said, “I have learned to accept the treatment requirements. A number of medical advances over the years have improved my quality of life. The biggest challenge is trying to fit the treatments into my busy schedule.”

So far there is no cure for the disease. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation supports a wide range of research that focuses on the hunt for a cure and improving the quality of life for patients. The disease afflicts roughly 70,000 people worldwide.

One in 30 people are carriers of the recessive Cystic Fibrosis gene. If a man is a carrier and marries a woman who is a carrier, the couple has a 25% chance of having a child with Cystic Fibrosis.

“We are partnering with the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by donating the prize money to them,” said ITD District 6 Engineer Jason Minzghor. “ITD is pleased to be able to contribute and, in this small way, be of assistance to Lina and others who deal with the genetic disease.”

“Last year, about 89 cents of each dollar of total foundation expenses was spent on research and medical, community and education programs,” said Ashley Barton, senior development director of the Utah and Idaho Chapter in Salt Lake City. The chapter is the nearest Cystic Fibrosis Foundation office in the region.

“We take pride in being an effective organization and are careful stewards of every dollar raised in support of our mission to further research and improve treatment,” Barton said.

Because Cystic Fibrosis is rare, the foundation doesn’t receive any federal funding, said chapter Executive Director Laura Hadley.

“Efforts of the chapter directly affect local Idaho communities and the patients cared for at the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center located at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise,” Hadley said. The care center at St. Luke’s is the only Cystic Fibrosis clinic in Idaho.

Lina typically visits the Cystic Fibrosis clinic for adults at the University of Utah Hospital. In her childhood, she visited the pediatric Cystic Fibrosis clinic at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

The Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation works with the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center at St. Luke’s to ensure standardized, quality care.

$8M in funding available for Transportation Alternatives Program involving walking, biking

The Idaho Transportation Department is looking for walking or biking projects to be funded by nearly $8 million available through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP uses federal funds to provide a variety of alternative transportation projects that advance ITD’s strategic goals of safety, mobility, and economic opportunity.

Programs and projects such as on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects that improve access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, and safe routes to school educational projects, are eligible for TAP funding. Eligibility is contingent upon a project sponsor’s cash-only contribution to the project, right of way must be secured, and environmental requirements that do not exceed certain thresholds.

Please visit the TAP section of the department’s website at: http://itd.idaho.gov/alt-programs  to access the new application and instructions for submitting.

Final applications must be submitted to ITD electronically by December 1, 2017 at 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

 

 

 

 

 

DOUBLE DOWN ON THORNTON: Eastern Idaho project wins President’s and People’s Choice awards, plus $10,000 for Cystic Fibrosis

The Idaho Transportation Department Thornton Interchange project won the America’s Transportation “People’s Choice” vote today, along with a President’s Award from a national transportation industry group.

The America’s Transportation Awards (ATA) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) President’s Awards winners were announced today (Wednesday, Sept. 27) in Phoenix, Arizona.

The opening of the new Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg last November culminated 16 years of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built along a 34-mile stretch of the highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City.

Watch the video of the Thornton project.

Despite traffic volumes doubling during that time, improvements reduced serious-injury crashes by 75% and cut fatalities to less than one per year.

This marks the fourth Idaho project to advance to the national People’s Choice stage of America’s Transportation Awards since 2013. None of the four has finished lower than third in the public voting, furthering ITD’s reputation as a national leader. It is also the 11th AASHTO President’s Award for ITD since Director Brian Ness arrived in 2010.

ATA awards are a joint effort of AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The new Thornton Interchange greatly improves safety and mobility in Eastern Idaho and is saving lives,” said Ness. “This award shows ITD is now recognized nationally as an agency that finds better, more innovative ways to build projects that put the focus on serving the citizens.”

Completion of the Thornton Interchange removes dangerous at-grade intersections and makes the busy route a continuous four-lane divided highway from Idaho Falls to Sugar City.

“This honor and the national awards we have won are all employee driven. We empower our team to make decisions closer to where the work is being done and that has made us a more efficient and effective organization,” Ness added. “It’s this philosophy that is helping us to become the best transportation department in the country.”

Several innovations during the project saved ITD almost $450,000.

“Providing the contractor with a 3-D model for the Thornton Interchange and requiring the contractor to use automated grade control during construction shortened the required construction time and reduced the impact to traffic through the busiest part of the summer,” said ITD eastern Idaho District Engineering Manager Wade Allen.

“ITD will partner with the Idaho/Utah Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by donating the prize money to them,” ITD eastern Idaho District Engineer Jason Minzghor said. Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and eventually limits one’s ability to breathe.

Another sign of winter – studded tires legal Oct. 1 in Idaho

Studded tires are legal in Idaho from Oct. 1 to April 30

Snowstorms may not be part of the immediate weather forecast in the lower elevations and valleys of Idaho, but they’ve already made an appearance in the higher elevations and mountain passes. Accordingly, Oct. 1 marks the date for legal use of studded tires in Idaho. Idaho’s studded snow tire season continues through April 30.

While it may be legal to use the tires, officials advise against it unless conditions warrant. Studded tires are snow tires with small metal cleats embedded in the tread, and may cause undue wear on bare roadways.

Studded tire laws vary in neighboring states:

  • Montana: Oct. 1 – May 31
  • Nevada: Oct. 1 – April 30
  • Utah: Oct. 15 – April 15
  • Oregon: Nov. 1 – March 31
  • Washington: Nov. 1 – March 31
  • Wyoming: Legal all year

For weekly updates on highway construction projects in Idaho, call the Idaho Road Report at 511 or 1-888-IDA-ROAD (432-7623). For online updates, visit the transportation department’s road report at 511.idaho.gov.

Daily reports on winter road conditions are provided from November through April.

The transportation department is helping drivers stay safe with the annual Winter Safety Campaign. Check the department’s Facebook and Twitter pages. You also can visit our Road Maintenance page and click on the “Winter Driving” tab for helpful videos and other information.

Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 17-23 reminds drivers to keep young ones safe, offers free safety checks

 

Keeping children safe on the road means putting them in the right safety restraint at the right age.

That’s the message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) during National Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 17–23. See Governor’s Proclamation.

Motor-vehicle traffic crashes are a leading killer of children, but properly used child-safety seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (under 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old).

“From 2011 to 2015, 12 children under the age of seven that were killed in Idaho passenger-vehicle crashes were unrestrained,” said Sherry Jenkins, with ITD’s Office of Highway Safety. “Those kids would likely have survived, or had a much better chance, had they been properly buckled up.”

Idaho has more than 260 certified child passenger safety technicians committed to educating parents and caregivers about the best ways to keep kids safe while traveling in cars, no matter how short or long the trip.

To help parents and caregivers in Idaho select the right car seats for their children, certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will hold free car seat-check events. Call to make an appointment for any of the following events:

Wednesday, Sept. 20, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Walmart, 2470 Pullman Road, Moscow (no appointment necessary)
Friday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Nell Redfield-Oneida County Facility, 150 N. 300 W. 208 766-5368.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Shoshone Medical Health and Wellness, 858 Commerce Drive, Smelterville, 208 625-4642.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., St. Luke’s Nampa Medical Center, 9850 W. St. Luke’s Drive, 208 870-3493

Motor-vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children ages 1 to 13. Jenkins said using age- and size-appropriate child restraints are the best way to reduce these deaths

“Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts are often used incorrectly, but no parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to his or her child’s safety,” said Jenkins. “That’s why we’re hosting these consumer-education events during National Child Passenger Safety Week. Parents can know for sure that their kids are as safe as possible when riding in a car.”

“When children under seven years old grow out of car seats, their greatest risk is not being placed in booster seats,” Jenkins added. “Booster seats can save lives and are as important as any of the other restraints. And, they’re available for as little as $20.”

Child Passenger Safety Week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers the importance of correctly installing and using car seats, booster seats and seat belts. It is important to register car seats with the manufacturer so parents can be notified in the event of a recall.

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. After outgrowing car seats, children should be placed in booster seats until they are big enough to fit seat belts properly without help from a booster seat.

The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seat of the car.

For more information on child car safety, go to safercar.gov or http://itd.idaho.gov/ohs/ChildSafety/index.html

Public-private partnership creates economic opportunities for east Idaho

One of the largest public-private partnerships in Idaho is moving forward after government and business leaders broke ground on the Northgate Project in east Idaho today (Thursday, Sept. 14).

This project represents an unprecedented partnership between six public and private entities that will increase mobility and economic opportunity along the Interstate 15 corridor.

“This project presents a fantastic opportunity for not only Pocatello and Chubbuck, but also all of East Idaho to grow and thrive into the future,” said Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad.

The partnership consists of the cities of Chubbuck and Pocatello, Bannock County, the Pocatello Development Authority, the Idaho Transportation Department and Millennial Development.

In June, those partners signed an agreement to build a new interchange on I-15 and new local roads to connect to the interstate.

The new infrastructure would open the north end of Pocatello and east Chubbuck to new development by way of a master-planned community called Northgate. Once fully built, the project is expected to bring new a 1-million square foot IT park, retail businesses and 10,000 new homes.

“This project kicks off a visionary transformation in the Portneuf Valley that will echo for generations,” said project developer Buck Swaney.

Crews will begin some site work this fall, with the majority of the construction expected to begin in spring 2018.

Eagle’s Salmon rescue, response to POE car fire show ITD concern for public safety

A few recent incidents highlight the safety role of Idaho Transportation Department workers in their everyday jobs, serving the citizens of Idaho. Here are a few of those stories:

Eagle’s Salmon rescue sheds light on fire-extinguisher checks

Like cellphones, or most of us after a few late nights in a row, fire extinguishers need to be recharged periodically to be at their full potential. That was never more evident than the morning of August 7, as ITD Salmon Maintenance Foreman Jeff Eagle raced to an overturned vehicle on US-93 and a young girl screaming for help inside.

He was her only hope at the moment, but even as he ran, he had to wonder if his fire extinguisher would even work.

On that Tuesday morning, Jeff started the day thinking about a sign installation. On his way back to Salmon, however, he glanced in his rear view mirror and witnessed a car over-correcting as it went off the road a few hundred feet behind him. The car came back across the roadway, but luckily there was no oncoming traffic. The car rolled.

“It was the most violent vehicle rollover I have ever witnessed,” said Eagle. “It went airborne and rolled at least 5 or 6 times and landed on its side against a landowner’s fence in an irrigation ditch.”

Eagle stopped and turned around to help. As the first one on the scene, he called StateComm and asked for an ambulance and sheriff to assist.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when I ran to the vehicle. When I came upon the car, it was severely damaged and crushed. I couldn’t even tell what kind of car it was. What I saw next was horrifying. There was a young girl pinned under the rear axle of the car. She was awake but screaming. I tried to comfort her as well as I could.”

He then realized the engine was still running.

“I couldn’t believe there was still an engine left in the car. I had to shut the engine off before it caught fire. There was no one else involved in the wreck, so I tried to get my arm through the car window to shut off the engine. It was difficult and the key was bent, so my first attempt failed.”

With his adrenaline kicked in, the second attempt to turn the engine off was successful. “I was able to turn the key just enough to shut it off,” Eagle explained.

“I was somewhat relieved, but also knew it could still catch on fire from the hot engine. Then the second thought hit me.’ I HAVE NEVER CHECKED THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN MY ITD PICKUP TO SEE IF IT WAS STILL CHARGED.'”

“What would I have been able to do if the car would have caught on fire with that young girl pinned under it? Fortunately, it did not and my fire extinguisher was charged. What a break.”

“We have always been fairly good about checking the fire extinguishers in the buildings, but we need to be more diligent in checking the ones in the equipment and other vehicles in case we are put into this circumstance while doing our jobs.”

District 6 Safety Compliance Officer Ron Butler explained that fire extinguishers are checked annually and tested as needed. This year, we found six trucks, three loaders, and several pickups or cars with fire extinguishers that needed to be recharged. They had not been used, but had leaked off anyway.

“We try to get to all vehicles and buildings, but often miss a few because they are out on job sites, so check your extinguishers and if they don’t have a 2017 tag on them, change them out so you know you have a good working unit,” he added.

Eagle concurs.

“It only takes a minute. It would not hurt to have a fire extinguisher in our personal vehicles also,” he said.

Note: Eagle said the girl didn’t have to be Life Flighted from the scene, thank goodness!

 

East & West Boise POE inspectors help tame car fire Aug. 2          

ITD Port of Entry inspectors from the East and West Boise facilities collaborated to put out a car fire at the port on Aug. 2, with help from a couple of truck drivers.

Inspector Kyle Perkins spotted a car on fire from the shoulder of Interstate 84 just past the East Boise Port of Entry, and alerted Port of Entry inspectors on the westbound side. Devin Dascenzo, April Jordan, and Jeff Butler. Inspector Scott Conrad was already in route to the car fire from the east port.

Dascenzo and Butler grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran up the westbound ramp to the car fire, while April closed down the westbound port. By the time Devin and Jeff arrived, Conrad had already exhausted a pair of fire extinguishers from the port car. Two truck drivers stopped and added their own fire extinguishers to help tame the blaze.

Jeff and Devin sat up cones to keep interstate traffic away from the shoulder without closing down a lane of traffic, and then helped the driver gather as many of his personal items from the car as possible. Once fire responders left the scene, port personnel made sure a tow truck was in route.

The quick reaction helped prevent injury to the driver, stopped a potential wildfire and kept traffic safely moving.

 

Ah Yee’s parking premonition proves prophetic          

An observant employee’s decision to park a truck in mid-June kept north Idaho drivers safe.

Chance Ah Yee, an ITD Port of Entry Inspector at the Huetter POE, noticed that a driver was slow in his response to questions. The driver was having real difficulty. Chance became concerned.

The driver said that he had been sick for the past week and was feeling fatigued. To protect the traveling public and the driver, Chance ordered the driver to park his rig.

A month later the driver contacted the Huetter Port of Entry to thank Chance. The driver had suffered a stroke just one day after Ah Yee ordered the truck parked.

“Chance did a great job of sensing something was wrong and using his discretion to prevent a potential accident,” said ITD Compliance Manager Reymundo Rodriguez.

Construction near New Plymouth will provide safety improvements at ID-72/US-30 intersection

The Idaho Transportation Department will enhance safety at the intersection of Idaho Highway 72 and US-30 during late September and October.

Crews will reconfigure the intersection to a more common, “t-type” intersection. This will eliminate the free-running movement on ID-72.

During construction, US-30 will be reduced to one lane with temporary traffic signals in place to control traffic.  Delays of up to 15 minutes are possible.  During the same timeframe, ID-72 will be closed to thru traffic.

ID-72 traffic will be detoured one mile south to SE 2nd Avenue. Truck traffic will be detoured to US-30, Interstate 84, and Sand Hollow Road. Detours will be clearly posted and also available at 511.idaho.gov.

Crews will work daytime hours Monday through Saturday. The project will be complete in late October.

Langley Gulch Culvert Replacement

During the same timeframe, ITD will replace an aging culvert near Langley Gulch on ID-72 near the intersection work and within the existing work zone.

For more information on this project, as well as a full construction list for southwest Idaho, please visit itd.Idaho.gov/D3.