$17.3M available through Oct. 31 from ITD’s Public Transportation office for rural service

Nearly $17.3 million in funding is available through Oct. 31 from the Idaho Transportation Department’’s Public Transportation (ITD-PT) office for rural transit service providers in Idaho.

Applications can be found on the ITD-PT website under the “Application Program” drop down tab labeled  “Congressional Appropriation Applications,” along with additional application details. Funds are made available through four funding sources: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 5310 Rural Elderly and Disabled Grant Program, FTA 5311 Rural Formula Grant Program, FTA 5339 Bus and Bus facilities Grant Program, and the Vehicle Investment Program.

Every two years, ITD makes funding available for operating, capital, planning, and marketing projects to support transportation needs. Local government authorities, public agencies or private non-profit organizations, and operators of public transportation may apply.

For more information, please contact ITD Public Transportation grants officer Kim McGourty, at kim.mcgourty@itd.idaho.gov or 208-334-4475.

Idaho weigh-in-motion systems saved trucking industry 33,000 hours and $3.5 million in last year

Weigh-in-motion (WIM) systems like the one installed in February at the Inkom Port of Entry (POE) in southeast Idaho save the trucking industry huge chunks of time and money.

Trucks bypassing the port save an average of five minutes of time per incident, and almost a half a gallon of fuel. This amounts to a savings of about $8.68 per bypass. Commercial trucks using WIM to bypass Idaho ports saved 33,365 hours and more than 16,000 gallons of fuel in the last year.

There are four Idaho locations with WIM. From July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017, the impact was:

Huetter POE (Northern Idaho): 58,356 vehicle bypasses; savings = $506,530
Lewiston POE (North-Central Idaho): 89,049 vehicle bypasses; savings = $772,945
East Boise POE (Southwest Idaho): 247,378 vehicle bypasses; savings = $2,147,241
Inkom POE (Southeast Idaho): 5,600 vehicle bypasses (June only); savings = $48,608
TOTAL # of BYPASSES = 400,383; SAVINGS = $3.475 million

“These projects are an outstanding example of how the department is meeting its mission to improve safety, mobility and economic opportunity for Idaho and the nation,” Reymundo Rodriguez, DMV Compliance Manager, said.

The system allows commercial trucks that meet state size and weight limits to bypass weigh stations at highway speeds. An estimated 50 to 60 percent of commercial truck traffic will be able to bypass the ports.

Vehicles bypassing Ports of Entry facilities save drivers and companies valuable time on the road, reducing fuel and operating costs while increasing productivity. Vehicles that bypass also benefit the state and everyone who uses the highways by reducing congestion around weigh stations and enabling inspectors at the port to focus their efforts on carriers that demand the most attention.

Safety is a top concern for ITD – here are a few examples:

Idaho is home to a lot of rural roadways that present some unique safety challenges. Here are a few recent initiatives from ITD to improve public safety on those routes:

SPOTLIGHTING DANGEROUS CURVES
If you ever played a driving video game, then you’ve seen the big flashing arrows that warn you when a curve is coming up and which way to turn. You’re not very likely to run into the wall, but follow directional arrows around the curve and go for the finish line.

Big electronic flashing arrows might be effective in a fast-paced game, but would not be very efficient on some of Idaho’s rural highways.

Here’s the rest of the story

RURAL INTERSECTION CONFLICT WARNING SYSTEM
Rural highway intersections can be hazardous if drivers are not aware of upcoming stops and free-flowing traffic crossing their paths. Here’s a lower-cost system to help save lives.

Here’s the rest of the story

 

Three projects highlight ITD’s mission across Idaho

Interstate repaving

Efficient business practices and construction methods are occurring across the state. In this edition of ITD In Motion, Jennifer Gonzalez takes a look at three projects that aren’t just meeting ITD’s mission, but exceeding it.

Public can vote for Idaho’s Thornton Interchange project for national honor and $10k charity prize

The Idaho Transportation Department project to rebuild the Thornton Interchange is a national finalist in the “People’s Choice” category of the America’s Transportation Awards (ATA).

Public voting is open and continuing through Sept. 21 online at www.AmericasTransportationAwards.org.

The project previously won ATA regional honors in late June. Idaho’s Thornton project was selected by the judges to move on to The People’s Choice award (and/or Grand Prize) and a shot at $10,000 in prize money. The prize money will be donated to a charity or scholarship program chosen by the winning state department of transportation. The winner will be announced Sept. 27 in Phoenix.

The awards are a joint effort of AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“This shows that the Idaho Transportation Department is being recognized as one of the best transportation departments in the country, and ultimately this excellence benefits all of Idaho’s drivers,” said ITD Eastern Idaho District Engineer Jason Minzghor.

“The Thornton project will greatly enhance safety and mobility in eastern Idaho area, and most importantly, saves lives.”

The opening of the new Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg marked the culmination of more than a decade of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built in a 34-mile stretch of U.S. 20 between Idaho Falls and Sugar City to improve access management and traffic flow for greater highway safety and mobility.

Watch the video of the Thornton project below.

Despite traffic volumes more than doubling, these improvements drastically decreased serious-injury crashes and fatalities. In addition, several money-saving innovations and technological advances saved at least $450,000.

“Providing the contractor with a 3-D model for the Thornton Interchange and requiring them 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 District 6 Engineering Manager Wade Allen.

This marks the fourth Idaho project to advance to the national People’s Choice stage of the America’s Transportation Awards since 2013.

 

ITD offers back-to-school safety tips for kids, parents, and drivers

The Idaho Transportation Department is committed to safety for all members of the public — even for the smaller, younger members of our communities. Most school zones have been vacant for the past few months – but that’s all changing. Here are some back-to-school safety tips from ITD:

SCHOOL SAFETY: Return to school requires renewed safety focus

SCHOOL SAFETY: Children, drivers should follow bus-safety guidelines

SCHOOL SAFETY: Make sure vehicle is road ready before handing keys to teen drivers

SCHOOL SAFETY: School zones require reduced speeds, increased awareness

SCHOOL SAFETY: Parents should prepare children before walks to school

Solar Eclipse Traffic Report

Traffic Congestion Generic

UPDATE: Tuesday, August 22

Here are the preliminary numbers of total cars traveling to and through Idaho for the 2017 Solar Eclipse:  Our traffic counters near the state borders counted 449,530 cars entering the state between August 18 and August 21. This number was an increase of 71,140 during that same time frame last year when 361,270 cars were counted entering Idaho at those same locations.  ITD estimates more than 160,000 visitors came from out of state for the event (see methodology below).

The bulk of the visitors came from Utah and Oregon. Areas where the traffic was busiest include I-15 between Utah and Idaho Falls, US-93 near Craters of the Moon, US-20 near Arco, ID-95 from Payette to Riggins, and ID-55 north of Eagle.

Many locations in the mountains saw a steady stream of increased traffic throughout the weekend, up until the morning of the eclipse. Monday morning, routes along the I-15 corridor saw the biggest spike for day-of traffic. Travel home did cause congestion along the above routes. Most of that cleared up by 5:00 p.m. Monday, though congestion lingered on I-15 until 9:30 p.m.

ITD experienced an increase in visitors to our online resources, including the eclipse web page and blog posts. Total unique visitors to these pages is 82,000.

Traffic Counter Location†2017 Eclipse Traffic‡2016 Comparison§% Traffic Change
Banks-Lowman Hwy78506220+26%
I-15, Pocatello (Exit 63)*11272085840+31%
I-15, Dubois (near MT)*2421017120+41%
I-15 Blackfoot (Exit 98)129280106430+21%
I-84, W. of Caldwell (Ext 13)*116800100740+16%
I-86, btw Twin Falls and American Falls (Exit 15)3565036590-3%
ID-21, Robie Creek1761014490+22%
ID-33, WY Border*3361031610+6%
ID-55, Eagle5622051000+10%
ID-55, Banks3033030200+0%
ID-75, N. of Shoshone1911016250+18%
ID-75, N. of Hailey6088056990+7%
US-20, NE of Ashton*3787035570+6%
US-20, W. of Idaho Falls99509720+2%
US-20/26, E. of Arco1908012320+55%
US-30, W. of Lava Hot Springs2751027860-1%
US-91, UT Border*3596032210+12%
US-93, Craters of the Moon150807900+91%
US-93, NV Border (S. Rogerson)*2426019280+26%
US-95, N. of Salmon River Bridge*1584011810+34%
US-95, Fruitland*4826044210+9%
* Site used to calculate out of state visitors
† For an interactive map of the traffic counter locations, click here.
‡ Counts ran from 11:00am 08/17/17 to Noon 08/21/17.
§ Counts ran from 11:00am 08/15/16 to Noon 08/19/16

Visitor Methodology

This number is meant only to be an estimate of visitors to Idaho for the 2017 solar eclipse and is not intended to be authoritative. ITD’s method for estimating visitor numbers took the change in traffic count from 2016 to 2017 at border locations (marked with *), multiplied by 2.5 people per average vehicle, minus 5% for local traffic. This method does not capture the number of visitors who may have flown into Idaho via commercial flights or backcountry airstrips.

ITD gives final go-ahead for Northgate Interchange

Northgate Interchange Plan

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has given the final approval to begin developing the Northgate (Siphon Road) Interchange in Bannock County. The department provided the final signature on the agreement between ITD and several public and private partners during Thursday’s Idaho Transportation Board meeting in Coeur d’Alene.

The partnership consists of Millennial Development, city of Chubbuck, city of Pocatello, Bannock County, Pocatello Development Authority and ITD.

The project will connect parts of north Pocatello and Chubbuck to Interstate 15 near Siphon Road.

ITD will now begin the selection process to design the interchange, with the goal of breaking ground in the spring of 2018 and completing the project in the fall. 

“We think it will increase mobility and bring greater economic opportunity for the community,” said Board Chairman Jerry Whitehead. “This interchange presents a unique opportunity to create a public-private partnership that can serve as a model for the future.”

Please, drivers: Celebrate eclipse, don’t add impairment to the mix

Summer is winding down, but with the Great American Eclipse and Labor Day weekend just around the corner, Idaho’s summer travel season should be busy to the very end. Sadly, both events have the potential to become tragic, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others on Idaho’s roadways.

In an effort to reduce drunk driving crashes and to save lives, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement agencies across Idaho for a high-visibility mobilization.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, begins this week and runs through the Labor Day weekend holiday. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving.

“Our goal is to have zero traffic-related deaths in Idaho,” said Ken Corder from the Office of Highway Safety. “Seeing more officers on the roads during this busy time of year will serve as a reminder to drivers that we all need to do our part to keep our roads safe.”

According to NHTSA, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2015 – approximately one person died every 51 minutes as a result of drunk driving. During the mobilization, officers will have a zero-tolerance stance on drunk driving.

“Between the eclipse and Labor Day, we expect to see more people out enjoying the last few weekends of summer,” Corder said. “We want people to enjoy these events safely – if you plan to drink, use a designated driver, call a taxi, use a ride sharing app or call a friend or family member. There’s no reason to get behind the wheel if you choose to drink.”

ITD and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely.

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Idaho Highway Safety Manager, John Tomlinson. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, from the Eclipse through the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses,” he said.

Tin Cup Beaver Dam Restoration project benefits wildlife and ITD

POCATELLO – If Ruffles have ridges, what do riffles have? Beavers, it turns out.

When a few beaver dams on Tin Cup Creek in southeast Idaho started backing up water last fall at a culvert on Idaho Highway 34 and threatening to undermine the road, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) was faced with the complication of adding underwater bridge inspections for that remote site.

Instead, they added riffles — really good riffles. ITD constructed the riffles (rocky or shallow parts of a rough-water stream or river) to entice the beavers to build. That’s exactly what they did.

ITD crews first removed three beaver dams downstream of the culvert to lower the water level at the crossing. They also removed one dam just upstream of the structure, which lowered the stream channel and de-watered adjacent wetlands in a stretch of the creek.

In collaboration with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, ITD crews repaired the stream by building two in-stream rock riffles over two days in mid-July. The result was better than what Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game (IDFG) wildlife fisheries biologist Corey Lyman expected.

The photo above shows Mark Porter (ITD District 5 Maintenance Operations) operating a Track Machine while building a riffle. The photo below, taken Aug. 8, shows a beaver dam already built on the new riffles.

The work not only stabilized the channel and protected the culvert, but also permanently raised the creek bottom, which had eroded down enough to disconnect the water from the creek banks and willow-filled floodplain. Streambed work also improved habitat for fish and for all wildlife living in the area.

“Without water reaching the river banks, the streamside wetlands were drying up and dying, and we were losing the habitat,” explained D5 Sr. Environmental Planner Alissa Salmore. “We essentially re-watered the area.”

The project also allowed members of ITD’s Pocatello, Soda Springs/Wayan, and Montpelier Maintenance sheds to gain experience in stream restoration work. This added to their skill set and reinforced environmental awareness.

Plus, it has already been successful.

“The fish were moving into the dams and claiming territory as we were cleaning up and leaving the project,” said Mark Porter of District 5 Maintenance Operations.

Porter also said that beavers have already begun building over the riffles, which was exactly the intent.