Despite the volumes of information Jim Coleman has received the past two weeks, his transition to the Idaho Transportation Board should be relatively swift.
Coleman, who brings nearly 30 years of engineering experience to the board, was appointed Jan. 31 to fill the District 1 vacancy left by the retirement of John McHugh. The new member will join the board Tuesday and Wednesday when it meets in Boise. His confirmation vote has yet to come before the Idaho Senate.
”I’ve been involved on the periphery on several ITD projects the past 30 years,” he said. “I look at the Idaho Transportation Board as an integral part of the development of a good transportation system, which is necessary for commerce and economic growth in the state.”
Coleman, 54, will add a unique perspective to the seven-member board that sets policy for the transportation department:
Much of his work the past two years has been in “Value Engineering,” a review of school facilities for the Wyoming School Facilities Commission and the Wyoming Legislature. The values analysis discipline, Coleman explains, is a systematic approach to determining the best values for a project… comparing functions with costs and determining the most cost-effective way of achieving the desired functions.
He began his career as a design engineer with J-U-B in Nampa after graduating from the University of Idaho. Two years later he transferred to Twin Falls where he became a project engineer and project manager. He was named assistant regional manager in 1980 and worked as a contract city engineer for eight communities in the Magic Valley.
Coleman became the Regional Manager for J-U-B’s Coeur d’Alene office in 1984 and has lived in the area since that time. The firm expanded responsibilities to include a new office in Kennewick, Wash., in 1986.
He was elected to the firm’s board of directors in 1985, became president of the company in 1990, and CEO in 1992. J-U-B grew from 70 employees to more than 250 during his tenure.
Since founding his own company, Coleman has concentrated on project management, value analysis and strategic planning and has conducted studies for schools and public buildings. He also is active in sustainable design factors.
Coleman is a member of the Idaho Society of Professional Engineers, has served as chairman of the Idaho Engineering Education Advisory Board, is past chairman of the University of Idaho Engineering Advisory Board and is past chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce. He has been involved in a number of other civic organizations.
Determining short- and long-term funding for the state’s transportation system will be among the board’s greatest challenges, Coleman admits. Because of inflation, especially in the construction sector, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and expand the system.
“I don’t think there’s widespread knowledge about the department’s funding needs and how those revenue needs affect the transportation system,” he said. “There needs to be an educational process, both at the legislative and public levels. At the same time, we need to get the best value for what the state spends on transportation.
“The process forces you to ask the tough questions, which we all have to do from time to time.”