As winter approaches, maintenance workers in District 3 are preparing to use control measures to manage avalanche chutes on Idaho 21 between Grandjean Junction and Banner Summit. The Canyon Creek segment is a very high avalanche hazard area because of a high concentration of major slide paths – more than 50.
ITD staff from the district will summarize the avalanche forecasting and mitigation program in a presentation Wednesday (Nov. 14) to the Idaho Transportation Board. The monthly board business meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Auditorium at Headquarters.
Until the 1980s, the route was routinely closed during the winter months because resources were limited to clear snow from the highway and maintain the safety of the traveling public. In 1986, the Idaho Transportation Board adopted a policy of attempting to keep Idaho 21 open in winter.
A Winter Operating Plan has been developed to outline procedures for safety, operations, avalanche forecasting, avalanche control and search and rescue. Options to help control avalanches include the “Avalauncher,” which uses compressed air to propel explosives into avalanche paths, and helicopter services to deliver explosives to avalanche start zones. The U.S. Forest Service issued ITD a permit to pursue an avalanche program using explosives to bring down snow in a controlled manner.
Representatives of the city of Stanley have enthusiastically supported ITD’s efforts to keep Idaho 21 open. Winter recreation is vital to the area’s economy. Residents of the greater Stanley area rely on the highway to travel to Boise for business, medical and governmental services and other reasons.
Other Board discussion
report on railroad grade crossings
As of Jan. 1, there were 2,640 active crossings in the state. In 2006, there were 22 rail-vehicle collisions resulting in three fatalities and two injuries. Between 2002 and 2006, the most collisions occurred in the month of October, while Tuesday was the day of the week in which the most collisions occurred.
Washington County had the highest incident rate of collisions during the 2002-2006 time period followed by Kootenai and Elmore Counties. Bingham County has the most crossings with 192, followed by Canyon with 168 and Bonner with158.
Using incentives to encourage good local land-use planning and zoning
Some of ITD’s actions to encourage good land use include the forming of partnerships, creating corridor plans, access management plans, and public involvement and comments on potential development approvals that could have an impact on the state system.
ITD staff will report on some other methods that ITD could use to provide incentives for locals to cooperatively plan and preserve rights-of-way and access. These include: