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Board authorizes ITD to begin gradual transfer of
Banks Lowman highway from Boise County

The Transportation Board this week authorized ITD staff to begin developing a cooperative agreement with Boise County to transfer the Banks Lowman highway to the state.

The 33-mile route, connecting Idaho 55 at Banks with Idaho 21 at Lowman, will be transferred in segments as improvements are made to the road, bringing them up to state standards.

Board members, meeting at ITD Headquarters in Boise, agreed the route functions as a state highway since it serves largely a “non-local” traffic base, according to a July 6, 2003 destination study.

Boise County will be responsible for making improvements, such as rockslide mitigation, signs, and guardrail projects, as well as continuing to maintain the highway to the fullest extent possible in the interim.

As segments are transferred to state ownership, the cooperative agreement outlines maintenance responsibilities, which are to be under county contract until ITD has sufficient resources to assume maintenance functions.

Boise County Commissioner Dale Hanson said the road is often plagued by rockslides, which creates a financial and maintenance burden. He also reminded the board that part of the highway was once on the state system, designated as Idaho 17.

Other board action Monday and Tuesday (March 22 and 23):

Interagency Working Group
The Interagency Working Group (IWG), which was established to assist ITD with public transportation issues, outlined three main initiatives it is involved with:

  • In District 5, a demonstration project is under way to coordinate all public transportation services. Initially, four counties participated in the coordination efforts. However, by the end of the year, it is hoped that all seven counties in the district will be part of the process. Pocatello Regional Transit is the lead agency.
  • The Magic Valley Initiative was established out of local concerns about plant closures, economic development, job access, and potential duplication of transportation service routes. IWG is assisting local leaders by conducting a needs analysis and making recommendations. The strategy is to create an integrated regional transportation system, provide access to jobs and related training, provide access to medical services and provide a regular means of assessing needs.
  • The North Central Idaho Rural Access Initiative will explore the use of school buses for transporting area citizens to medical appointments and other activities. The Orofino and Kamiah School Districts are partners with the IWG in this pilot project, which, if successful, will be expanded to other districts.

The Board expressed support for these initiatives and for the efforts of the IWG. It believes the collaboration and coordination of in the public transportation agencies are commendable, and are also vital to the success of statewide public transportation.

Annual Reports
Board members expressed their appreciation for annual reports on various programs and commended ITD staff. Following are highlights from those presentations:

  • Karen Sparkman reported that females continue to be under-represented in the department’s workforce in the technician and professional categories.
  • Carri Rosti said the road maintenance equipment audit indicates that existing procedures are working well. She said objectives for the current year include improving responsiveness to customer needs and hosting the AASHTO audit subcommittee meeting in Boise in July.
  • The number of industrial accidents reported at ITD was reduced 18%, from FY02 to FY03 (126 to 103), according to Cheryl Rost. She also reported the department vehicular accidents also decreased 33 percent, from 171 to 114.
  • Wellness Council chair Pauline Davis recognized District 5 and the Headquarters team of Bridge, Right-of-Way, Highway Safety, and Public Transportation, for their participation in the 2003 Decade of Fitness Exercise Challenge. She also promoted the upcoming spring challenge, which will have a summer Olympic theme.

The board reiterated its support for the Wellness Program and thanked the volunteers who make the program so successful.