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Board approves new scenic route designations

The Idaho Transportation Board approved the designation of two additional routes as scenic byways, based on recommendations of the Scenic Byways Advisory Committee and respective district staff.

The Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway in northern Idaho will become part of the International Selkirk Loop. In the letter of support from District 1, Transportation Planner Sean Hoisington wrote, "As we continue developing transportation solutions through partnership with the communities in North Idaho, we have become increasingly aware of the positive benefits a project like this can generate and the enriching effects it will have on our communities."
(See separate story.)

The Salmon Valley Chamber of Commerce was the driving force behind designation of the Sacajawea Historic Byway because of the route’s intrinsic scenic, cultural, recreational and historic values. The byway begins on Idaho 28 in Salmon and continues east on Idaho 33 to I-15.
(See separate story.)

Aeronautics Annual Report
Aeronautics Advisory Board Chairman Rodger Sorensen provided an overview of the Division of Aeronautics’ activities during the past year. He highlighted airport maintenance projects, including the replacement of several cars in the courtesy car program.

To promote safety and education, the division coordinated numerous clinics, the Aviation Career Education Academy and annual aviation festival. The latter continue to be popular and successful activities.

Sorensen also expressed concern with the increased number of aircraft accidents and fatalities during the past year.

Aeronautics Administrator Bob Martin outlined current and future goals and talked about aviation issues outside the division. He reported that commercial airline service appears to be recovering from the drastic downturn following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He also reported on air cargo and business aviation and emphasized the important role aviation plays in Idaho’s economy.

Winter road report
A special report to the board explained operation of the winter road report during the holidays and the challenge of keeping pace with frequent and widespread highway closures. Public Affairs Manager Jeff Stratten said the telephone-based system was inundated by calls late last month and early this month because of the severe winter conditions.

A significant number of callers were unable to access the recorded road information. Stratten discussed operation of the telephone system, the online road report and ways both could be improved to meet the information needs of travelers.

Board members responded with personal anecdotes and emphasized:

  1. Ensuring adequate room for semi-trucks and trailers to turn around at road closures;
  2. Ensuring the need to provide services at the those sites;
  3. Providing more detailed information and identification on the telephone system of the closure locations; and
  4. Increasing public awareness of the closures through advertising and continued promotion.

Board members suggested that more variable message signs be used to inform motorists of road closures. They expressed support for improving the road report system and reaffirmed the importance of the road report to the traveling public.

ISP/State Communications Center tour
The board concluded its January meeting with a visit the Idaho State Police facilities and the State Communications Center in Meridian.

Staff at the center provided an overview of its roles and responsibilities. It emphasized the strong partnership it enjoys with ITD on issues such as the road report and hazardous material incidents.

The board also discussed a number of issues with ISP officers, such as motorists’ use of cell phones, the differential speed limit and the quick clearance of accident sites so traffic can resume a normal pace following an accident.

ISP representatives commended the transportation department for its Incident Response Program and the 3E (engineering, education, and enforcement) Program. ISP encouraged the board to continue and/or expand those programs.