Traffic to shift on US-30 in Cassia County starting next week

As early as March 10, traffic will shift on US-30 between Parke Avenue and 400 West Road in Burley. This is part of a highway widening and utility improvement project that has been underway since February of this year and is expected to finish this fall. The work will enhance the safety of drivers and enhance mobility.

“With this project, we will see the roadway transition from a two lane highway to a four lane highway for an approximate four mile stretch,” said ITD South-central Idaho Project Manager Kenny Lively.

Flaggers and pilot cars will be present during working hours – 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Drivers can expect reduced speeds and minor delays near the work zone and are encouraged to find an alternate route.

“In addition to the two eastbound and westbound lanes, we will also be building a center turn lane,” said Lively. “This will provide easier access to businesses in the area and improve safety for motorists.”

Western Construction Inc. is the prime contractor for this project.

Slow Your Roll – A candid Q&A with Corporal Bolen

Single car traveling in winter weather.

When it comes to winter driving, safety is always the message we try to stress. Of course, it’s easy to tell people to slow downstay engaged, and drive safely. Unless you’ve been personally affected by the consequences of speeding and winter weather, the seriousness of the message may not resonate.

Idaho State Police (ISP) Trooper BolenWith this in mind, I decided to sit down with our south-central Idaho Law Enforcement Liaison, Scott Bolen. Corporal Bolen has served with Idaho State Police for five years. He’s seen a lot of incidents on Idaho roads during his tenure with ISP. Corporal Bolen offered some insight and advice to benefit all motorists navigating Idaho roads this season.


Q: How do you feel about driving in the snow?

When there is snow on the roadway, it becomes more challenging to drive. Often, snow is just one aspect of multiple challenges a driver faces in winter weather. For example, when we look outside today, not only do we find snowy conditions, but that snow combines with dense fog, which further decreases visibility for a motorist. It’s not impossible to drive in these conditions. However, if you decide to get behind the wheel, you need to decide to drive safely – slow down, increase your stopping distance, and drive for the conditions. 


Q: What are some winter driving incidents you have encountered that have left a lasting impression?

Unfortunately, I encounter many incidents that leave lasting impressions. A few years ago, it was a particularly bad winter. There were a lot of slide-offs that season, and I remember responding to an incident on the interstate where a passenger vehicle had slid off into the median. Visibility was very low that day, and that, combined with the high speed of traveling motorists, made the side of the roadway a frightening place to be. Multiple vehicles, including a semi-truck, came within a breath of hitting my patrol car while I worked to assist the vehicle in distress.  

Another incident occurred where a semi-trailer came over a hill and hit a patch of ice, causing it to jackknife on the highway. I arrived on the scene to find the driver standing outside in the freezing weather. He was terrified that another vehicle was going to come upon him too quickly, not be able to stop and collide with his trailer. Both of these situations could have improved if motorists slowed down, paid attention to their surroundings, and drove for the conditions. 


Q: How many incidents do you feel could have been avoided?

A lot. I cannot even begin to count how many slide-offs and rollovers to which I’ve responded. Many crashes were avoidable if drivers would have taken their cruise control off in slick weather and slowed down. It’s sad to say, but a vast majority of people are impatient. They don’t realize that taking a few extra minutes to get somewhere could make a difference in not getting there at all. 


Q: We remind people to plan ahead when they travel and encourage them to pack emergency winter kits in their cars. What other tips would you recommend for motorists this season?

I think it’s important to remind people to check the weather before they get on the roadway so that they can plan their commute accordingly. The live camera feeds and road updates on 511.idaho.gov are an excellent resource for people to utilize. If individuals are traveling, they need to tell people what route they are taking and what time they expect to arrive at their destination. This planning will help out greatly in the unfortunate event that you get lost or stranded during travel. 


Q: If you could get all drivers to make one change in their behavior, what would it be and why?

The things I’ve seen in my career have made me think and drive differently. Telling people to slow down and be patient is something I cannot stress enough. So many of our winter crashes occur because motorists want to keep going as fast as the posted speed limit allows. Those speeds are set for ideal driving conditions. While you may be able to drive 65 or 80 mph on slick roads, that doesn’t mean you will be able to maintain control of your vehicle or stop. Slowing down and increasing your stopping distance gives you more time to react if something goes wrong.


Q: Anything else you want to add?

Just that we are here to serve the people and help keep our roadways safe. In emergencies, you should always call 9-1-1. If there is a non-emergency, for example, you slide off the road or even suspect a DUI vehicle, call our dispatch center at *ISP (*- 4-7-7), and we will head out to help. 

ITD reminds drivers of safety in work zones during construction season

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) reminds motorists to drive carefully through work zones — for their own safety and the safety of construction workers.

ITD has more than a dozen projects planned this year in District Four. Every project is different in terms of road pattern changes and reduced speed limits.

Each year, ITD draws special attention to safe driving in or near work zones during Work Zone Awareness Week, April 8-12.

District and HQ collaborate to expedite I-84 bridge repair

Earlier last week, crews in District 4 worked with the Headquarters Bridge section to repair damaged bridge joints on Interstate 84 near Glenns Ferry. It was most likely damaged due to the lower position of that joint compared to the rest of bridge deck and the resulting impact and vibration of passing vehicles. You can hear it on this video.

During a routine inspection, HQ Bridge Inspector Toby Griffin found that a portion of the bridge joint was missing, and another section was broken and loose.

“I was in the area doing a routine inspection of railroad structures below when I heard loud clanking sounds coming from the bridge deck above,” said Griffin. “This was not normal, so I investigated further and discovered the broken joint.”

Toby texted a photo of the damage to his supervisor, Dan Gorley, who quickly reached out to D4 Maintenance Coordinator Shawn Webb.

After discussing the situation, it was determined that a lane closure would ensure the safety of motorists driving westbound on the interstate. Despite it being after normal working hours, crews were onsite and implementing traffic control within the hour, while district and headquarter personnel worked into the evening to develop an emergency repair plan.

The following morning, crews were dispatched to the bridge deck to begin work. Repairs included removal of broken bolts, rethreading of damaged base plates, and welding and re-installment of the broken finger joint section.

“This was a great example of ITD personnel working together in an efficient and collaborative effort to ensure successful execution of one of the department’s key mission points – safety,” said Webb. “Four separate crews came together quickly to work as one to find a viable solution that allowed us to reopen the roadway within 24 hours of the initial discovery.”

The Bliss Foreman area crew, the D4 Bridge crew, the D4 Welder/Machinist, and personnel from HQ’s Bridge Inspection crew all participated in repair efforts of the broken bridge joint.

Planning is underway for development of a strategy to address the joints located on the westbound and eastbound bridges at this location. Webb stated that “the goal is to have a more permanent solution regarding this issue in the near future.”

New signal feature installed at Eagle and Ustick

No Right LED Sign

There’s a new feature on two signals along Eagle Road in Boise that’s sure to grab your attention: LED signs that light up to display a “no right turn” message.

Yield to U sign
A static sign reads “Yield to U-Turns”

Two signs have been placed on the intersection of Ustick and Eagle. It can be seen by the cars traveling the east-west Ustick corridor. The signs light up when cars on Eagle have a green left arrow light. The purpose is to prevent collisions between traffic making legal U-turns on Eagle and cars turning right off of Ustick.

While no crashes have been reported in this area, a number of near misses have been observed.

“This should eliminate those,” said ITD traffic engineer Erika Bowen. “We’re looking at doing a pilot for it. If this is successful, ITD plans on installing them up and down the Eagle Rd. corridor.”

Currently, many intersections on the corridor feature a sign advising those turning right to “Yield to U-Turns.” The new signs actively turn on and off only when necessary. The hope is the change will grab a driver’s attention and induce safer behavior.

The pilot program is a partnership between ITD and the Ada County Highway District.

ITD urges travelers to celebrate responsibly

The day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking days of the year.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year with millions of Americans hitting the road to spend time with family. The holiday’s celebratory spirit also makes it one of the most dangerous periods on our roads.

In recent years, Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year.

“It’s the biggest drinking event we don’t talk about,” said Ken Corder from the Office of Highway Safety (OHS). “A lot of us like to catch up with old friends while we’re home for the holiday and to be honest and many of those meetings happen in a bar.”

This trend has resulted in what is being called “Blackout Wednesday” and it has been deadly on roads across our country. Over the last five years, an estimated 800 people were killed across the country as a result of impaired driving during the Thanksgiving holiday (6:00 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday). In 2016, an 37 people died each day during the Thanksgiving period.

In an effort to reduce impaired driving crashes, OHS is joining with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and every state across the country in a social media blitz.

“We want to start the conversation to get people home safely,” Corder said. “If you plan to drink, designate a driver, call a cab, or use a ride share app. You’re there to enjoy the holiday with family and friends – don’t let a bad decision ruin that for all.”

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.

Traveling for the Eclipse? Don’t start a wildfire

Wildfire Generic

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to Idaho to view the August 21 solar eclipse – right in the middle of fire season. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has some simple tips to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire during your road trip.

The majority of wildfires in Idaho are started by us humans. Driving in your car can be the source of several ways those fires start, whether it’s hanging metal hitting the road or throwing out lit cigarettes.

Here are four things to do while you’re on the road to see the solar eclipse:

  1. Before leaving, look under your car and check for hanging parts. Mufflers often get knocked loose and can hang low to the ground. If you see something hanging down, tie it up. These parts can skip on pavement and shower sparks on grasses alongside the roadway.
  2. If you are towing a trailer or camper, ensure safety chains are fastened and not dragging. Bumps in the road can cause hanging chains to hit the ground and spark.
  3. Don’t drive or park on tall grass. The exterior of your engine or exhaust can get up to 2,800°F. Contact with dry grass can easily start a fire. See this video PSA from U.S. Forest Service.
  4. Don’t throw out lit cigarettes. When you’re done with a cigarette, make sure the end is completely put out and cool to the touch. Otherwise, you’re throwing a small fire onto a big pile of tinder.

ITD hopes everyone traveling to see the eclipse has a fun and safe time. By checking your car before you leave and making smart choices on the road, you can help ensure this experience stays wildfire free.

4 myths about road tripping for the solar eclipse in Idaho

4 Eclipse Trip Myths

The August 21 solar eclipse has everyone talking. Unfortunately, some of those conversations are filled with made up assumptions, inaccuracies, or straight-up lies. So, in this age of alternative facts, here are four road myths surrounding the eclipse we want to clear up.

#1. The interstate will be turned into a one-way – FALSE

We’ve heard it from all over the state of Idaho: “The route in my backyard will be changed to go just one direction.” This is absolutely false. This rumor is so untrue, the pants set on fire by those telling it runs the risk of burning down the entire state.

So, let’s be very clear. Whatever the configuration of the road is today will be the configuration before, during, and after the eclipse. I-15 will remain a north- and southbound road; same for U.S. 95 –  and so on and so forth.

#2. Semi-trucks will not be allowed on the road – MOSTLY FALSE

Most commercial traffic will be allowed to travel during the eclipse – though we want to throw out there that traffic will likely be congested. There will be a restriction on very large loads.

The Division of Motor Vehicles is implementing a “holiday protocol” for those big rigs. Starting Sunday, Aug. 20th at 4 p.m. and ending at dawn Aug. 22 loads exceeding 10’ wide, 100’ long or 14’6” may not travel on Interstate or State highways south of Lewiston.

For questions, call the overlegal permits department at 208.334.8420 or email at permits@itd.idaho.gov

#3. All construction will be suspended during the eclipse – SOMEWHAT TRUE

Okay, construction is complicated. The window for crews to get into a place and do work that may take months to complete can be narrow. Where projects can be suspended to improve traffic flow and safety, we are doing that. For some projects, we can’t – if we’ve only got one lane done on a bridge, we can’t pull up and make a difference.

If it helps, we’ll have flaggers out to help move people along. Please use extra caution and patience in active work zones.

#4. Traveling for the eclipse is like driving to work. I don’t need to take extra steps – FALSE

Areas where the moon will completely block the sun – the “Path of Totality” – generally fall on pretty remote parts of Idaho. We’re talking bad or no cell signal, sparse services like gas stations, and lots of big critters that can cross the road. Also, much of southern Idaho is a desert, full of dry grass just waiting to catch fire.

Plan ahead and make smart choices during your trip. Your GPS may not work in the mountains so bring a physical map (they still make those), extra food and water, and fill your tank full before you cross into the hinterlands. Also, make sure nothing is hanging low from your car or trailer. A dropped muffler can hit the road and spark, which is a great way to start a wildfire.

This total solar eclipse is a rare opportunity to see something amazing and we are excited so many people want to come to beautiful Idaho to see it. Help share these truths and bust those myths out there!

Things to check before your eclipse road trip

Road Trip Generic

The Idaho Transportation Department is advising drivers who are planning to travel to view the eclipse to be prepared in the event of delays or an emergency.

The eclipse takes place on Monday, Aug. 21. It is anticipated there will be numerous travelers on highways and local routes.

Drivers should ensure their vehicles are in good working order. This includes getting the tire pressure checked, and making sure a vehicle’s battery, tires, headlights and brakes are in good working order.

In addition, drivers should carry emergency flares or portable signs to alert other drivers of an emergency, extra food and water, extra clothing or blankets for cooler weather, a flashlight with fully charged batteries, a fully charged cell phone and a map of Idaho highways.

The transportation department’s 511 web page and mobile app for Apple or Android will alert drivers to delays on the state’s highways. However, those planning to use the app on their smart phones or check web pages likely will not have cell service in remote or mountainous areas in Idaho.

When possible, travelers are encouraged to return home on Tuesday, Aug. 22, or later in the week. This will reduce the number of vehicles on highways that are returning home Monday afternoon.

The transportation department is working to develop a statewide plan to ensure motorists have the information they need ahead of the Aug. 21 event. ITD’s Jennifer Gonzalez shares some information about the agency’s preparation efforts, including how drivers can prepare, in the latest edition of the department’s In Motion video series below.