meets with UDOT to discuss common projects
Members of the Idaho Transportation Board met with their Utah counterparts during their Sept. 14-15 meeting in District 5.
Meeting in Preston, Utah Department of Transportation and District 5 staff members outlined plans to improve U.S. 91 and U.S. 89 near the Utah/Idaho border. The Preston mayor commented on the good relationship his community has with the two state DOTs and expressed appreciation for the projects. He believes the improvements to U.S. 91 will be an economic benefit. Preston Airport officials also told board members from Idaho they believe traffic and activity will increase at the airport as a result of the highway improvements.
After the meeting in Preston, board members traveled to Logan, Utah, on U.S. 91, through Utahs construction project, and then on a state route to Interstate 15. While the board traveled I-15 to Pocatello, Idaho State Police Capt. Ed Gygli reported on efforts by ISP, Utah State Patrol, the Oneida County Sheriffs Department and the Box Elder County (Utah) Sheriffs Department to address the increased vehicle crashes in southeast Idaho, particularly on I-15.
Utah authorities say that just across the border from Oneida County, they also are experiencing a similar trend in fatalities. In a joint effort that began on Labor Day and continues through Dec. 1, the four law enforcement agencies are conducting saturation patrols on a 50-mile stretch of I-15. They are targeting drivers who appear to be under the influence of intoxicants, speeding and driving aggressively or violating seat belt, safety restraint laws.
Other board topics
Safe Routes to School
During the 2004 legislative session, a Safe Routes to School bill was introduced but never passed. Since then, ITD staff members have been working with the Safe Routes to School coalition to establish a statewide program. Some of ITDs efforts include media campaigns, brochures and promotion of National Walk to School Day (Wednesday, Oct. 6).
Pipal emphasized that this grass roots effort is strictly a volunteer program. No funds have been dedicated to promote Safe Routes to School. Despite the lack of funding, the program is growing and seems to begenerating a lot of interest throughout the state.
Board members offered their support for the program, and Winder announced plans to participate in National Walk to School Day. He will join school children to form a human bus to school.
Updated Highway Development Program and
Board members expressed their appreciation to ITD staff, particularly Dave Amick and Pat Raino, for updating the documents. The board believes ITD has developed an excellent process and commended the cooperative work, both within ITD and with outside entities.
According to staff estimates, the available funding level for the Highway Development Program will be $303.8 million in FY05, including matching funds. Because Congress still is working on the reauthorization of the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the federal funding estimates were based on a level between the House and Senate versions currently being considered.
ITD Director Dave Ekern mentioned that the updated Highway Development Program includes a focus on safety. Elements include signing, striping, rumble strips and Safe Routes to School. The new Safety Rest Area Program also was incorporated into the updated program.