Inflation and decreased funding have reversed a decade-long trend and gradually are diminishing the efficiency of pavement on Idaho highways, according to a report presented last week to the Idaho Transportation Board. The board met Wednesday and Thursday at the District 6 Headquarters in Rigby.
ITD staff indicated that the percentage of deficient pavement dropped from 38 percent in 1993 to 15 percent in 2002, the result of a concerted effort to improve the condition of the state’s highways. In the past five years, pavement deficiency has increased to nearly 20 percent.
The current pavement investment strategy is not expected to curtail the upward trend in deficient pavement, staff members suggest. At the same time, they presented potential strategies to return deficient pavements to around 18 percent, which is the measurement criteria reported in the department’s Strategic Plan.
A total of 640 lane-miles in addition to those already programmed for improvements will need to be improved to achieve the goal of 18 percent. Some of the tactics to address the deficient pavement include focusing funds on deficient sections, moving CRABS projects to the Restoration Program and seal coating low-truck-volume routes. Low-truck-volume roads are those with less than 100 trucks per day.
Board members expressed support for this strategy, but also acknowledged the plan is a temporary fix and not a long-term solution.
Other board discussion
Transportation Enhancement Projects
The maximum award for individual projects has been $15,000. Because IDL is redirecting its focus to asset management, resulting in the need to cut back on many of its existing tasks, the department has requested increasing the amount of the Community Transportation Enhancement projects to a maximum of $30,000 per project. That would reduce the administrative workload. Although it will mean fewer grants for communities, it will help offset increasing costs of project materials and labor for the recipients.
Some board members said they were concerned that adopting the recommendation could negatively impact small communities. Despite that concern, the board approved the requested increase to a maximum of $30,000 per project.
Division of Highways Program and District Obligations Report
A breakdown of obligations by district also is provided to the board on a monthly basis. As of June 30, the districts had obligated the following percentages of their highway STIP funds (dollar amounts also are shown):
1 – 68.8 percent ($56.8 million)