Idaho Transportation Board members John McHugh, Bruce Sweeney, Monte McClure, and Gary Blick, along with several Headquarters and District 2 staff members, found themselves in turbulent waters recently.
And it was a refreshing change.
They were participating in a float trip of the Lochsa River May 18 as part of the board meeting and District 2 tour.
The U.S. Forest Service and area outfitters schedule an annual joint float trip as a forum to discuss issues of mutual concern. This year, transportation board members were invited to join the group. When they stopped for lunch, board vice chairman Jack Combo joined the group.
Discussions centered on numerous topics related to U.S. 12, including maintenance, signing and hazardous materials hauled on the highway. It also included discussions of the new GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) highway construction bonding program.
Because the Forest Service is the largest landowner along the highway and its activities impact the corridor, the federal personnel meet with District 2 staff on a regular basis.
USFS staff and area outfitters expressed their appreciation for the board’s participation on the float trip and for the dialogue that took place during the lunch break.
For rafting aficionados, the stretch of Lochsa the group rafted had one Class IV rapids and several Class III rapids. Only one person was tossed from a raft, but he was rescued from the river and is back in Lewiston leading District 2.
Transportation board members met in regular session the following day at the District 2 offices in Lewiston. Among the agenda items were:
Community Transportation Enhancement (CTE) Program
The communities must provide a 10 percent match, and the landscaping must be done on public land. Stephenson emphasized the importance of planting trees. Some of the benefits include scenic beautification, mitigation of water pollution and erosion, economic development and safety. Trees also appear to have a calming effect on drivers, often resulting in reduced speeds.
Stephenson showed pictures of past projects and elaborated on some that will begin this summer. He said the CTE program is very popular; the Department of Lands receives more project requests than funding can cover. He thanked the board for its continued support of the successful program.
Map of roadside rest area facilities
• Rehabilitating or expanding the Clark Hill Rest
Area on U.S. 26 in District 6
District 2 tour
At Potlatch, the group toured the Potlatch City Hall. An earlier Enhancement Program project helped the community restore an old railroad administration building, which was then converted to the Potlatch City Hall.
On behalf of the city, the mayor expressed appreciation for the restoration and thanked the board for another enhancement project anticipated in the near future – restoration of the railroad depot.
City officials also announced plans and activities to celebrate its centennial this year. Timber barons from the Midwest decided to build a lumber mill, railroad and company town at Potlatch. Eventually, the mill became the largest white pine mill in the world. Today, it is gone, but the town remains, celebrating its100-year heritage, preserving its past and planning its future.
Photos: Board members joined U.S. Forest Service personnel on a raft trip down the Lochsa River (top); District 2 board member Bruce Sweeeney dressed for a wet trip (top right); Enhancement funds were used to restore the Potlatch Railroad building (bottom).