The Idaho Transportation Board received a report about the state’s participation in a national program to improve the nation’s security and safety when it met Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 14, 15) in Boise.
Leslie Fowers, Highway Watch coordinator for the Idaho Trucking Association, explained the program that uses the skills, experience and “road smarts” of America’s highway transportation workers to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and facilitate the transport of goods, services and people.
Highway Watch includes three main components: training and recruitment, information sharing and analysis, and operations support. The intent is for participants to recognize and report potential security threats and safety hazards on the road. The motorists are additional “eyes and ears” in partnership with law enforcement, Fowers said.
ITD’s Port of Entry officials participate in the program, and ITA hopes to schedule training at district offices soon. The Division of Public Transportation also works with ITA to train transit operators.
Other board discussion
Local Rural Highway Investment Program
The board established the program to assist small cities, counties and highway districts with improving their transportation infrastructure. LHTAC emphasized that the local officials appreciate the program and the support the board provides.
The council focuses on funding three types of projects: construction, signs and transportation plans. The program is very popular, as evident by the 86 applications worth approximately $35 million submitted in FY05.
Funding was available for about 40 of the projects. LHTAC summarized some of the projects. LHTAC said the program makes a significant difference and encouraged the board to continue funding it.
Delegation – Yellowstone Bear World
The tourist attraction has other amenities, such as a petting zoo, waterfowl area, gift shop and restaurant. The number of visitors stopping at the site has grown from abut 60,000 when it opened in 2000 to more than 90,000 in 2004, with 97 percent of visitors coming from beyond a 70-mile radius of the facility.
Mike and Courtney Ferguson, Yellowstone Bear World operators, emphasized the significant economic impact the tourist attraction has on the region and the state. They expressed concern about access and indicated that a recent board decision to replace the existing at-grade crossing with a new interchange on U.S. 20 at alternative “T-G” could inconvenience travelers, have a detrimental economic impact on the area and create safety concerns.
The delegation asked the board to construct a second interchange to address the access issues.
Because the board supports the promotion and enhancement of economic development, it asked staff to work with appropriate parties to explore access options, such as frontage roads.