It couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The Idaho Transportation Department and the state’s transportation community paused at the midpoint of the ITD’s first Project Development Conference Wednesday to recognize exemplary projects in construction, transportation planning, environmental stewardship and public involvement.
Legislative approval of the Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s visionary Connecting Idaho proposal served as an appropriate backdrop to the awards presentation that included about 400 people at the Boise Centre on the Grove.
“Did you feel the earth move today?” ITD Director Dave Ekern asked rhetorically as a prelude to the awards presentation. If the earth wasn’t moved by legislative approval of GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonding, it will be moved by a flurry of highway construction activity that will ensue over the next 10 years.
Several showcase projects recognized Wednesday evening serve as benchmarks for future construction and establish high standards for ITD and its contractors to follow.
“For the first time, we want to recognize projects that set the standard,” Ekern said. “We should feel good about what we do because we’re demonstrating to our transportation customers their dollar is well spent.
“That’s a tremendous tribute to the people in this room. Many of you will not stand up and take credit, but you need to,” Ekern added.
“(Legislators) know that when the people in this room speak about design and engineering, and when you deliver a product, you’ve done it right. And that’s what tonight is all about.”
More than 19 transportation projects were nominated for awards in the four categories.
Individuals or groups behind those projects received heavy-weight plaques made from steel I-beams with an engraved plate attached. Winning projects were:
Transportation Planning: Recognition by District 3 for the Valley Regional Transit Downtown Boise Mobility Study. The plan is in its final stages and should be completed this spring. The award for the collaborative study was presented to: Valley Transit, Ada County Highway District, city of Boise, Boise State University, Capital City Development Corp., COMPASS, RBCI, ARUP Consulting and ITD.
Environmental Stewardship: ITD District 1 and Washington Group International for the Copeland Project, Northeast, in Boundary County. The project included improvements to U.S. 95 from Copeland to the Canada border.
Public Participation: ITD District 1, the Sand Creek Byway Project. The project near Sandpoint was recognized for unique forms of public involvement and “innovative ways taken to include stakeholders and the public in the decision-making process.” Construction is scheduled to begin this year.
Construction: District 6, the Canyon Creek Bridge project on Idaho 33 in Madison County. The project was chosen for adaptability and flexibility, and for responding to changing conditions during the construction phase. “They had to respond to unique geological conditions and changed the design even as construction was taking place without compromising the integrity and the beauty of the structure,” Ekern said.
“These awards are a testimonial to the kind of work that everybody in this room does on a daily basis, and it’s a testimony to the excellence that was evident in all 19 project nominations. You should feel proud, be proud, and continue to do what you’re doing,” Ekern said.