ITD and AGC announce Excellence in Construction Partnering Award winners

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the Idaho Associated General Contractors (AGC) announced the winners of the Excellence in Construction Partnering Awards at the ITD monthly board meeting Thursday, Dec. 17. 

The Excellence in Construction Partnering Awards recognize outstanding partnering efforts between ITD employees and the contractor community. Good construction project partnering results in the delivery of quality projects, on time and within budget, which benefits Idaho travelers and taxpayers overall. 

The inaugural awards competition was announced in October as a joint collaboration between ITD Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney and Wayne Hammon, CEO of the Idaho Associated General Contractors. Applicants were encouraged to submit for construction contracts underway today and those built within the last three years. 

The applications were reviewed by a judging panel of state and local partners and evaluated on criteria related to how well the project: 

  • Resolved conflict 
  • Improved communication on the project with all audiences 
  • Utilized innovative solutions 
  • Incorporated team building activities 
  • Honored stakeholders 
  • Achieved a common goal 

The winners, announced at the ITD monthly board meeting this December, were recognized for earning gold, silver, bronze and honorable mention awards.

A rockslide blocks US-95 near Riggins in July 2020.

One project was unanimously selected as the ‘Top Gold’ award winner, for its outstanding partnering efforts and uniquely difficult circumstance—the rockslide removal and rock blasting project on US-95 following a rockslide near Riggins in July 2020.

Below is a comprehensive list of the 2020 Excellence in Construction Partnering Award winners: 

Top Gold Award: Scarsella Bros. Inc. & ITD District 2
US-95 Rockslide Removal and Rock Blasting Project 

Gold Award: N.A. Degerstrom Inc. & ITD District 1
I-90 Pennsylvania Ave Overpass Bridge Replacement Project 

Gold Award: Cannon Builders & ITD District 5
I-15 Northgate Interchange Project 

Gold Award: Concrete Placing Company Inc. & ITD District 3 & Ada County Highway District
Cloverdale Road Overpass Bridge Replacement Project 

Gold Award: Scarsella Bros. Inc. & ITD District 1
Junction SH-53 Interchange UPRR Bridge Project 

Gold Award: Westing Construction Inc. & ITD District 4
Raft River Bridge Eastbound and Westbound Lanes Project 

Gold Award: West Construction Inc. & Local Highway Technical Assistance Council
Old Highway 37 The Narrows Project 

Silver Award: Poe Asphalt Paving Inc. & District 2
Webb Road to Aspen Lane Pavement Project 

Silver Award: Idaho Materials & Construction & ITD District 4
US-93 200 South Road 4-Lane Widening Project 

Silver Award: Knife River Corporation & ITD District 4
US-20 Willow Creek and Rock Creek New Bridges Project 

Silver Award: Idaho Materials & Construction & ITD District 3 & Costco
US-20/26 Costco Public Road Improvements Project 

Silver Award: Knife River Corporation & ITD District 3
I-84 Blacks Creek Road Interchange Reconstruction Project 

Bronze Award: Central Paving Company Inc. & District 3
US-95 Elephant Butte Swelling Clays Highway Reconstruction Project 

Bronze Award: Wadsworth Construction & ITD District 3
SH-55 Snake River Bridge Replacement Project 

Honorable Mention: Western Construction Inc. & ITD District 4
I-84 Jerome Interchange to Twin Falls Interchange Project 

Honorable Mention: Concrete Placing Company Inc. & ITD District 3
I-84 Northside Blvd to Franklin Blvd Project 

Honorable Mention: DePatco Inc. & ITD District 6
US-20 Ashton Hill Bridge to Dumpground Road Project 

Honorable Mention: Mountain West Electric Inc. & ITD District 6
D8 Signals Project 

The goal of the awards is to increase awareness about partnering efforts by recognizing team solutions, sharing lessons learned, and highlighting best practices for infrastructure projects of all types and sizes 

“Construction partnering on projects is just good business,” McElhinney said. “ITD and the AGC value project partnering to help complete transportation projects across Idaho in a timely, professional, and responsive manner.” 

Idaho Ready: What you need to know about the chain up law

In extreme winter weather, chains can be a helpful tool to keep you safe while driving on slushy or snow covered roads. But are they required in Idaho?

Idaho’s chain up law does not apply to most drivers on the road, or even most places you drive.

The law only applies to commercial vehicles over 26,000 pounds on mountain passes, most notably on I-90 east of Coeur d’Alene and on US-12 at the Montana border.

This can be confusing, as chain laws vary by state. Neighboring states, like Washington, may require passenger vehicles without AWD or four-wheel drive use chains during the harshest of conditions.

In Idaho, chains are only required when conditions will prevent large vehicles from traversing grades without them, and the requirement is lifted as soon as possible to limit damage to the road. Operators with the Idaho Transportation Department activate special roadside signs alerting truck drivers to chain up as needed during the winter.

Some commercial vehicles, like logging trucks, tow trucks, and school buses are exempt from the law.

If the chain up law is in effect, then all drivers should be prepared for snowy conditions. Stay on top of road conditions or closures by visiting 511.idaho.gov or downloading the Idaho 511 app.

 

Idaho Ready: Winter driving insight from ITD’s snow plow operators

In Idaho you have to be prepared for all sorts of winter weather, and that means being Idaho Ready to drive safely. The Idaho Transportation Department wants drivers to have the knowledge and resources to do that, before they hit the road. Read the messages below to gain some winter driving insight from ITD’s own snow plow operators.

It’s time to be Idaho Ready for winter driving

As winter weather arrives in Idaho, the Idaho Transportation Department has launched its annual winter safety campaign, “Idaho Ready.”

The campaign aims to help drivers prepare for challenging conditions on the state’s highways, offering tips and resources to stay safe before drivers hit the road. Short videos, blog posts, and photos will be posted weekly to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and online at itd.idaho.gov/travel.

So, are you Idaho Ready for winter driving? Here are a few tips to help you stay safe on the road.

First, check road conditions before you leave! Visit 511.idaho.gov or download the Idaho 511 app to look at weather reports and cameras across the state.

Be prepared. Keep an emergency kit with food, water, and a blanket in your car.

If roads are wet or icy, slow down and give yourself plenty of stopping room.

Pay attention to the outside temperature. When it’s near freezing, ice can form quickly, and when gaining elevation, wet roads can change to ice in just a few miles. Even when the temperature is above freezing, shaded roadways can be slick. Take it easy on overpasses and bridges too. These are the first to freeze when temperatures drop.

Snow tires and chains can help keep you moving, but be sure to practice installing your chains so you know how to use them.

When roads are slick, turn your cruise control off. If you start to slide, regain control by taking your foot off the gas and slowly turning your wheel in the direction of the skid. Try not to overcorrect, and do not slam on the brakes.

If you encounter a snow plow, slow down and make room. The safest place is behind the plow. Never pass on the right.

Please wear your seatbelt, stay engaged, and drive for the conditions. Be sure to follow along online with ITD this winter so you are always Idaho Ready.

Blasting operations underway on ID-55

Rock blasting is underway between Smiths Ferry and the Rainbow Bridge as road construction continues on ID-55.

The goal is to make this narrow, curvy mile-long stretch of state highway safer, by building wider shoulders, adding guardrail, and straightening the road.

140,000 cubic yards of rock need to come off the canyon, and it’s happening one controlled blast at a time. How do they do it? It takes a lot of work and careful planning.

Strategically spaced holes are drilled into the rock differing in size and depth depending on the situation, then the explosives are placed inside.

“We’re using a nitro glycerin based dynamite as a primer, and then we use ammonium nitrate as a blasting agent,” said Blast Operator Ryan Miller. “Each hole is timed, a 40th of a second. We shot that in a V, and the reason it stayed on the hill is because we shot the center first, and kind of sucked it uphill.”

Each blasting design plan is closely reviewed.

“The whole idea is to move the rock in the direction we want it to. We don’t want to launch into the river, fly rock is our enemy,” Miller added.

Through late November, weather permitting, the work zone is closed to traffic every Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so crews can safely blast and haul away the rock.

Drivers are urged to plan around the closures or use US-95 as a detour.

“We don’t want people or cars traveling through the work zone during blasting. It’s also an incredibly tight work zone with the river off to the east and the rock faces out to the west. So giving the contractor that four hours is really letting them be as efficient as possible,” said Project Engineer Alex Deduck.

Steel containers and temporary barrier keep the falling rock from getting in the travel lane, and protect the crews working in this steep canyon. When the road is not fully closed, one lane is open to alternating traffic.

“Now that we’ve reduced it to one lane it’s even tighter, and just a hard area to work in,” Deduck said.

This winter, construction will pause and both lanes will be open.

In the spring, blasting picks back up with full road closures Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and during the busy summer, one lane will be open to alternating traffic Monday through Friday morning. Both lanes will be open Friday afternoon through Sunday.

You can learn more about the project and sign up for updates at itdprojects.org/ID55smithsferry. The project is expected to finish in late fall 2022.

For the latest road conditions, be sure to download the Idaho 511 app or visit 511.idaho.gov.

Idaho DMV issues extension on expiring registrations and driver’s licenses

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Motor Vehicles is providing an extension on expiring vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses. In an effort to reduce wait times at county DMV offices, non-commercial vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses that expire between September and December 2020, now have until January 31, 2021 to renew.

In mid-October ITD implemented the fourth and largest phase of the state’s DMV modernization project, moving the vehicle registration and titling system from a 1980s mainframe to an updated computer program. Eight million records were integrated into a “one person, one record” system, linking each Idahoan’s registration and title information with their license.

The new system has temporarily slowed vehicle registration and title processing, and ITD is working diligently to speed up transaction times. COVID-19 social distancing measures with limited hours and appointment times also contribute to a backlog in service. The extensions will allow customers more time to safely complete their business. ITD is doing everything possible to reduce wait times, especially as temperatures drop this fall and winter.

“People with expiring registrations and licenses don’t need to rush to the DMV. These extensions should give them some relief, help reduce crowd sizes, and also open up appointment windows where available at county offices,” said DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez. “We also encourage Idahoans to renew their registration online, by mail, or drop boxes at county offices.”

DMV online services, including driver’s license and registration renewal, are available 24/7 at dmv.idaho.gov. Please note, county DMV office hours are determined by county sheriffs and assessors, and vary statewide. Hours and contact information can be found at dmv.idaho.gov.

Reminder: Drive Insured! Insure your vehicle or lose your registration

Drive Insured! Be safe, be smart! Insure your vehicle or lose your registration.

A reminder to Idaho vehicle owners, drive insured or lose your registration.

Under Idaho law, vehicle owners without insurance coverage for two consecutive months risk having their registration suspended by the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles.

The Drive Insured law (Idaho Code 49-1234) was passed during the 2019 Idaho legislative session, and went into effect in January 2020. As part of the DMV’s efforts to help Idahoans through the unprecedented COVID-19 emergency, implementation was initially delayed.

The DMV receives data from licensed Idaho insurance companies identifying vehicles with coverage. Owners without coverage for two consecutive months will receive a warning letter, then have 30 days to provide proof of insurance or obtain an exemption before their registration is suspended.

To reinstate a suspended registration, owners will need to provide proof of insurance and pay a fee of $75.

Impacted drivers should expect warning letters in the mail this October, though at any time, the DMV encourages Idahoans to use the Drive Insured self-reporting tool at driveinsured.itd.idaho.gov. This tool allows drivers to verify the DMV has a record of their insurance, report a change in their insurance situation, or file an exemption. While insurance companies are required by law to provide this data, some fail to do so and it may result in a vehicle incorrectly identified as not having insurance. Using the self-reporting tool is a simple step that can give drivers peace of mind if they are concerned the DMV is not up to date on their current situation.

Please note, county DMV offices are not involved with Drive Insured, and affected vehicle owners cannot report their insurance in-person there. Please use the Idaho DMV’s online self-reporting tool, or call 208.334.8075.

Some vehicles are exempt from this statute. The law applies only to non-commercial vehicles, and excludes trailers and off-highway vehicles. For a full list of frequently asked questions, visit dmv.idaho.gov and click the Drive Insured heading.

Idaho DMV to update vehicle registration and titling system in October

OCTOBER 29 UPDATE
In an effort to reduce wait times at county DMV offices, the Idaho Transportation Department is providing an extension on expiring vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses. Non-commercial vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses that expire between September and December 2020 now have until January 31, 2021 to renew.

OCTOBER 21 UPDATE
The Idaho DMV team is working all hours to refine the state’s new vehicle registration and titling computer system. Customers at county offices are currently experiencing extended wait times. Please remember, many DMV services are available ONLINE at dmv.idaho.gov. We encourage you to skip the line and renew online 24/7.

OCTOBER 1
Idaho’s vehicle registration and titling system will operate on a new computer system this month.

It’s the next phase of the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles’ modernization project, moving from a 1980s mainframe to an updated GEM system. Statewide upgrades are planned over the Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 10-12) to minimize impacts to the public at county DMV offices.

“We anticipate a smooth transition,” DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez said. “State and county agents are testing and training now in preparation.”

During the three-day weekend, the Idaho DMV will integrate millions of DMV records into one system, resulting in a “one person, one record” system. Each Idahoan will now have one record with both their driver’s license and vehicle registration/title information on it.

“The one person, one record will reduce transaction times at DMV offices, and help county agents and law enforcement correctly identify Idahoans and vehicle ownership,” Gonzalez said. “It also paves the way to the future, giving us the ability to eventually offer more online services to Idaho drivers.”

The Idaho DMV has provided multiple training opportunities to county DMV offices, both virtually and in-person, and staff in all 44 Idaho counties have experience using the new system. County agents ask for patience and understanding from customers in October, as wait times could be longer while agents become more comfortable processing transactions. Title transactions on Oct. 8-9, prior to the transition, may be delayed several days.

The DMV modernization effort is an ongoing process. The disabled parking placards program was moved to the new system in 2017, and the driver’s license program in 2018. This latest phase transitioning vehicle registration and titling does not depend on a third party vendor.

Some of the DMV’s online services will be temporarily out of service Oct. 7-11 while the transition takes place. Aside from that time, drivers are still encouraged to skip the DMV line, and go online to renew their vehicle registration. For more information and resources visit dmv.idaho.gov or call the DMV Customer Contact Center at 208.334.8000.

ID-55 project between Smiths Ferry and Round Valley to start September 8

ID-55 at Smiths Ferry

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) starts road work on the Idaho Highway 55 safety-enhancement project between Smiths Ferry and Round Valley on September 8.

The public is invited to attend a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, September 2, from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. where ITD representatives will give an overview of the project and take questions. The link to attend will be posted on the project website, itdprojects.org/ID55smithsferry, 15 minutes prior to the meeting.

Work will largely be done in fall, spring and summer months, with construction stopping during the winter. This fall, travelers can expect full closures on the roadway Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to allow for blasting and rock removal.

Motorists can find additional details on road closures and traffic patterns on the project website, and can sign up for email and text updates.

“Our goal with this project is to enhance the safety of this mile-long section of the roadway,” Project Manager Alex Deduck said. “Construction crews will remove about 146,000 tons of rock from the hillside, which we want to do very carefully to not create rockslides or impact the river.”

Crews will work on widening shoulders and straightening the curves of the road. This project will also provide a smoother, safer ride for motorists by adding guardrail.

Motorists should anticipate reduced speeds and lanes reduced to one-way alternating traffic during construction. Seasonal closures and traffic patterns will be as follows:

  • Fall (September – November): One-way alternating traffic controlled by a temporary signal; daytime and nighttime work, seven days a week; full road closures Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Winter (December – Mid-March): No construction expected; all lanes open
  • Spring (Mid-March – Mid-May): One-way alternating traffic controlled by a temporary signal; daytime and nighttime work, seven days a week; full road closures Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Summer (Mid-May – August): One-way alternating traffic controlled by flaggers; daytime and nighttime work, Monday – Friday

The project is expected to be completed by late fall 2022. ITD and the Idaho State Police advise motorists to slow down and pay attention when driving in work zones, where increased speeding fines and other penalties apply. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and dial 5-­1-­1 or visit 511.idaho.gov for information on the state highway or interstate system.

DMV’s COVID-caused backlog reduced by increased use of online services

As COVID-19 continues to impact lives in Idaho, the DMV is one of many divisions at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) adjusting the way it operates. For several months now, the DMV has turned to its online services to help keep crowd sizes down at county offices.

In March, Governor Little’s stay-home order caused many county DMV offices to close their doors to in-person customers. By May, when DMV offices began to reopen around the state, there was an estimated backlog of 100,000 Idahoans needing a new driver’s license, vehicle registration, or title.

Through it all, ITD’s online DMV services have been available, helping chip away at the backlog and giving Idahoans a safer alternative to getting their DMV business done. Now, the backlog has decreased to an estimated 43,000 driver’s license or ID customers. Because of COVID-19, ITD has also allowed more drivers to benefit from the convenience of using these online services. Through the end of this year, drivers 17 to 75-years-old can renew their license online, and eight year licenses can be renewed online.

The DMV encourages drivers to “skip the DMV line, and go online,” in an effort to reduce wait times for customers in county offices, and slow the spread of COVID-19. With more accessibility, the number of online DMV transactions continues to climb month after month, and more Idahoans than ever are now renewing online.

“We’re excited to see our online transactions increase. Thousands of Idahoans are taking advantage of this fast, easy, and safe way to complete their DMV transactions, and we are thankful they’re helping reduce the backlog at the same time,” said DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez. “In February, about 900 people renewed their driver’s license or ID online. In June, that number jumped to more than 8,000.”

Online vehicle registration renewals this summer have also more than doubled since February. For the DMV’s online services and more click here.