Idaho Transportation

Office of Communications
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID 83707
Fax: 208.334.8563


The Transporter chronicles news highlights of 2007


Darrell Manning comes full circle, appointed chairman of transportation board
Through the years, perhaps attributable to his military experience, Darrell Manning has developed a reputation for being an administrative troubleshooter – one who possesses an innate ability to recognize where and how to implement change. In January he returned to some of his earliest roots in state government – the Idaho Transportation Department.

Empty shoes to highlight results of not buckling up
A weeklong demonstration is scheduled to begin next week to raise awareness about the number of Idaho fatalities that resulted from people not wearing their seat belts. “Empty Shoes” is an event that will use pairs of shoes to represent the 126 people killed in traffic crashes statewide in 2005 while not properly restrained.

District 1 Engineer Scott Stokes named new Deputy Director
Scott Stokes, District 1 Engineer since 1996, was chosen to fill the vacant position of deputy director, effective Feb. 26. He presided over District 1 during a decade of rapid growth in the Coeur d’Alene area.

Farewell to board member John McHugh
The ITD community bid farewell to retiring board member John McHugh during a reception at Headquarters. McHugh left the board after representing District 1 and serving ITD and the citizens of Idaho for more than 11 years.

ITD prepares for Legislative presentations
ITD Director Pam Lowe joined division administrators in making two formal presentations at the Idaho Legislature – the first Tuesday (Jan. 30) to members of the Senate and House transportation committees. The presentation focused on programs and projects, with an overview of the 2008 revenue request and a report on the GARVEE-supported Connecting Idaho program.


ITD completes most of strategic initiatives
A strategic initiative examined the way ITD operates and provided a systematic approach to delivering services was completed. Launched in early 2005, the plan focused on five primary approaches: Improving project and program delivery, improving safety, enhancing system operations, planning and innovative finance, and organizational development.

ITD unveils plan to battle avalanches
One of Idaho's popular recreation routes soon will have fewer road closures resulting from avalanches. ITD received a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service to use explosives to reduce avalanche hazards along Idaho 21 between Grandjean Junction and Banner Summit.

New prosecutor to focus on impaired driving cases
In the fight against impaired driving, adding more law enforcement officers doesn’t always translate into more convictions or lead to fewer impaired drivers on Idaho highways. Welcome Jared Olson, a prosecuting attorney’s best ally. Olson is Idaho’s first Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor (TSRP).

Governor names new board member for District 1
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed Jim Coleman of Hayden to the Idaho Transportation Board. He succeeds John McHugh of Post Falls. Coleman was appointed to the District 1 seat on the seven-member Idaho Transportation Board in January. He will represent the state’s five northernmost counties. His term expires in 2013. A civil engineer, Coleman worked for 30 years with J-U-B Engineers Inc. - including 15 years as the company’s president and CEO. He retired in 2005 to open his own consulting firm.


ITD's retired Jim Pline knows how to escape
When television production company 44 Blue wanted to find an expert in the design of safe emergency escape ramps producers went to the Institute of Transportation Engineers, which in turn summoned retired ITD engineer Jim Pline. There was no one better to explain how to design and build escape ramps than Pline, who left the department in 1987 after serving 35 years in a variety of roles.

Reese shares honor for project that enhances fish migration
Lotwick Reese was in high school when he noticed construction crews building U.S. 89 in front of the family farm near Bloomington in the Bear Lake Valley. He was so intrigued by the work that he asked about a job with the Idaho Department of Highways. A half-century later, with retirement qualifications met – and surpassed – Reese has been honored for one of his greatest professional accomplishments.

ITD budget gains JFAC approval with one change
The Joint Appropriations and Finance Committee approved ITD’s $496 million budget for fiscal year 2008 with one notable adjustment. The Legislature’s budget-setting committee reduced ITD’s capital equipment request by $3.5 million. That amount will be added, at the transportation board’s direction, to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program and used on Idaho’s highways.

JFAC approves '08 bonding authority for GARVEE
The Joint Appropriations and Finance Committee authorized ITD and its bonding agent to issue $246 million in GARVEE bonds to fund transportation projects in six corridors during fiscal year 2008. Following nearly an hour of discussion, members settled on the middle of three similar proposals.

Retired Navy pilot named Aeronautics administrator
A native of Idaho whose aviation experience includes flight training and education, military service and administrative work in the private sector, was named the new Division of Aeronautics administrator. ITD Director Pam Lowe announced the selection of John DeThomas who will leave his family’s farm near Rupert, to assume the administrative position, effective April 9.

New law provides interchange funding options
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law a bill that adds an innovative funding alternative for construction of qualifying interchanges and highway improvements. House Bill 250 creates a State Tax Anticipation Revenue (STAR) program that compensates developers who pay for interchanges or highway improvements that access new commercial/retail complexes.

ITD to introduce new durable pavement markers
Snowplows, de-icing chemicals, winter weather and tire wear are formidable foes for the stripes on Idaho’s highways. In a battle of longevity, winter usually wins; stripes usually lose. Beginning this spring, ITD will employ a new weapon in its campaign to make pavement lines more visible and last longer.


ITD employees try to revive heart attack victim
Two ITD employees worked valiantly to revive a 62-year-old man stricken by a heart attack while driving through a work zone Monday. Despite the efforts of John Richmond and Ken Puderbaugh, the Bozeman man was pronounced dead where his vehicle left the road near milepost 96, about one mile west of Lowell.

ITD explains winter maintenance to South Koreans
Ron Wright, chemist supervisor, met with a delegation from the South Korea Expressway Corporation in Coeur d’Alene to discuss corrosion inhibited deicer chemicals, winter maintenance programs and corrosion issues to the highway infrastructure. The Korean group is building the new Inch eon Bridge structures and is extremely concerned about the aspects of corrosion from the use of straight salt.

ITD provides input for reauthorization discussion
Like many rural states in the West, Idaho faces a severe challenge in maintaining and improving highways because of rapidly escalating construction costs and slowed revenue growth. Federal funding can help forestall a crisis or hasten it. That generally was a message the Idaho Transportation Board and a coalition of four other western states forwarded recently to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

Tour confirms commitment of ITD employees
Although separated by miles of highways, ITD employees are united in their passion to do their jobs well and efficiently. That was the perception a management team returned with from a tour of department operations in nearly every corner of Idaho.

ITD forwards Interim Strategic Plan to governor
The Idaho Transportation Department’s primary role is to “develop and operate a safe, efficient transportation system that meets the needs of the traveling public and supports Idaho’s economic prosperity.” Director Pam Lowe provided that reminder as part of an introduction to the department’s Interim 2008 Strategic Plan that was submitted to the governor’s office last week.


New haven opens for weary I-84 travelers
The Blacks Creek Rest Area reopened in May, offering Interstate 84 motorists additional parking, new restrooms, landscaping, covered picnic areas and lengthened on- and off-ramps from the interstate. Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning, contractors, transportation department employees and members of the Three Island Crossing Organization gathered for a ribbon cutting.

ITD assists in unique traffic signal, communication link
A collaborative project that links traffic signals in Moscow as part of a model Intelligent Transportation System was launched in May. Power Engineers Inc. of Lakewood, Colo., installed about 2.5 miles of underground electrical conduit and fiber optic communication cable that will link the city's traffic signals.

New RWIS sites, cameras offer dual multiple benefits
ITD has launched a program that will more than double the number of Road Weather Information Stations (RWIS) statewide and adds cameras that give travelers visual views of highway conditions. The $3.2 million contract recently awarded to Vaisala, a Finland-based technology company, will add 49 new sites to the 33 existing RWIS locations by late spring of 2008.

Board approves changes to rest area program
ITD will assume responsibilities for administration of the state’s Safety Rest Area program and districts will be asked to play a major role, announced Highway Operations and Safety Engineer Brent Jennings at the Idaho Transportation Board’s May meeting in Shoshone. Districts will be responsible for project development, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation work, and maintenance of facilities in their respective areas.

June 1 event formally kicks off Safe Routes to Schools
Idaho’s First Lady Lori Otter joined school and law enforcement officials to formally introduce the state’s new Safe Routes to School program June 1 in a morning ceremony at Boise's Riverside Elementary School. Otter was among six speakers who offered support to the new federally funded program that encourages children to walk or bicycle to and from school.


Groundbreaking affirms reason for highways
More than 100 people joined Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning, board member Jim Coleman, Coeur d’Alene Tribe Chairman Chief Allan and other dignitaries May 23 in breaking ground on the first District 1 project to be funded using GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds.

Web pages highlight ITD's revenue challenges
Explosive population growth in the state, increasing transportation demands, soaring construction costs and shrinking revenue projections are critical challenges facing ITD now and in the coming years. Learn more about these challenges and possible solutions by visiting the new Moving Idaho link on the home page of the ITD Web site.

Boise-area drivers declared safest in region
If you live and drive in the Boise area you’re less likely to have a motor vehicle crash than your counterparts in other metropolitan areas in the western U.S. Statistics released by Allstate Insurance Company reveal that Boise-area drivers are the safest in the company’s Northwest Region and ranked 14th nationally.

Association of Idaho Cities supports increasing Idaho's transportation funding
The Association of Idaho Cities is requesting the legislature invest an additional $200 million annually to improve and maintain the state's roads and bridges. The association endorsed a resolution calling on the legislature to raise the state's fuel tax, vehicle registration and other fees to meet the growing demand on Idaho's transportation system.

Allen named District 1 Engineer
Damon Allen expects to look back as he begins to look forward – drawing on recent experience as an assistant engineer in District 3 and Roadway Design Engineer at Headquarters in preparation for his new position – District 1 Engineer in Coeur d’Alene.
ITD Chief Engineer Steve Hutchinson announced Allen’s selection in late June.

Report ranks Idaho transportation system 10th
Idaho remains among the nation’s leaders in the efficient operation of its transportation system, according to an independent national report issued Thursday by the Reason Foundation, a public policy organization based in Los Angeles. The 16th annual report on the Performance of State Highway Systems ranks Idaho 10th nationally for efficient management of the system.


Dave Jones named District 3 Engineer
Dave Jones joined his esteemed colleagues as a fellow district engineer – assuming responsibilities for the state’s most populous area – District 3. Chief Engineer Steve Hutchinson announced Jones’s selection July 5.

New Web site highlights beauty of scenic routes
A new Internet site launched in late June will help summer travelers enjoy scenic views of Idaho while learning about the state's history. The Idaho Scenic Byways site, at, promotes 28 byways throughout the state. It went active on the Internet on June 25.

Joe Haynes to retire from LHTAC
The Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, which serves cities, counties and highway districts throughout Idaho, embarked on something it didn’t have much experience with — hiring a new administrator. Joe Haynes announced he would retire in September from the position he’s held the past 13 years. He is the only administrator the public agency has had and was instrumental in drafting legislation that created LHTAC in 1994.

New partnership creates free system in Valley County
A true partnership involves groups and organizations joining together to accomplish collectively what they could not do separately. Perhaps there is no better example than the creation of a new transportation system serving four Valley County communities and one of the nation’s newest four-seasons destination resort – Valley County Connections.

Wildfires shroud southern Idaho; caution used when parking
Idaho led all western states with six active wildfires covering nearly 100,000 acres as of Thursday evening, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. Of the six fires, two (the Warms Springs fire on the Payette National Forest and the Jim Sage fire in the Twin Falls District of the Bureau of Land Management) had been contained as of Wednesday.

Fires force intermittent highway closures
An outbreak of wildfires throughout Idaho stretched the limits of firefighters and led to several highway closures. U.S. 20 was closed intermittently near the Idaho National Laboratory Wednesday and Thursday as crews battled a large grass fire at East Butte. High winds complicated firefighting efforts in the predominately grass- and sagebrush-covered area. INL workers were asked to stay home Thursday because of the fire.

Crews remove ITD equipment from Johnson Creek airstrip
Three ITD personnel from the Division of Aeronautics removed vehicles and equipment from the Johnson Creek airstrip northeast of McCall as a precautionary measure because of a nearby wildfire. Mark Young organized the emergency evacuation and enlisted the help of airport maintenance craftsmen Todd Glass and Mike Pryor in removing the equipment as the Riordan Fire approached within about a mile of the popular airstrip.

ITD to begin implementing Practical Design concept
ITD introduced a new process to simplify design of construction projects to achieve maximum benefit for its financial investment. Director Pam Lowe outlined her vision for Practical Design in a detailed memo to district engineers, calling for designs that maintain project quality and integrity and at the same time reduces costs.


ITD to participate in Sept. 8 career fair
The Idaho Transportation Department stepped up efforts to attract qualified, motivated professions to fill the positions it has available. In an effort to attract applicants, representatives of ITD’s Human Resource Services joined other public departments and agencies at the sixth annual Law Enforcement Career Fair and Public Safety Day Sept. 8 in Boise.

ITD, BLM wage roadside war on weeds
Cheatgrass is a common sight for travelers along just about any highway throughout the West, and Idaho is no exception. The aggressive oat-like grass, or brome, challenges Idaho Transportation Department road maintenance crews each year to check its relentless spread along the state’s roadways.

ITD inspects bridges to ensure safety
Idaho has 1,761 bridges on its state highway system. A veteran crew of professional bridge inspectors and bridge engineers inspects each bridge at least every two years – or more often, if necessary. The inspectors use special equipment that allows them to view the bridge from all angles. ITD also uses a trained dive team to conduct underwater inspections of piers and pilings. Inspectors responded to a national directive to check critical bridges following the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.

Bridge conference planned in Boise
ITD will serve as the host agency in September for the Western Bridge Engineers’ Seminar that will bring engineers from seven western states to Boise. “Practical Solutions for Today’s Challenges,” managed by Washington State University in Pullman, is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at the Boise Centre on the Grove. It will include representatives from Idaho, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

Tolman chosen to lead Division of Administration
Dave Tolman, who been acting administrator for the Division of Administration since mid-June, was selected to fill the position on a permanent basis Aug. 23 by ITD Director Pam Lowe. Tolman joined ITD as controller in October 2001.

Remote cabin awaits retiring Larry Falkner
A small rustic cabin near Grand Jean Junction awaited the occupancy of its owner and part-time resident. It has no electricity; the refrigerator and sparse lighting is powered by a gas generator. Light rail does not stop there. Neither does a public transit bus. The haven for hunters became more than a weekend retreat for Larry Falkner after he retired as administrator of ITD’s Division of Public Transportation. It became his second home.


ITD assists in battle to control wildfire near Idaho 55
It was an odd image that was carried on Treasure Valley television stations– an ITD snowplow pressed into service as a pilot car, leading motorists through a smoke-enveloped segment of Idaho 55 north of Eagle. A Labor Day weekend fire erupted near Banks, about 32 miles north of Boise, briefly threatening the ITD Banks maintenance facility and forcing intermittent closures.

Historic Rainbow Bridge renovation completed
A project that spanned two construction seasons to restore historic Rainbow Bridge to its more celebrated appearance was completed in September, removing traffic restrictions in one of Idaho 55's most scenic areas. Work began in 2006 on the arch piers, floor beams, deck joints and columns. Construction crews replaced the bridge rails this spring and summer.

Mark Young receives national aviation service award
ITD State Airport Manager Mark Young received the 2007 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) during the organization’s annual banquet in Portland. Young has managed the development, safety and maintenance of Idaho's 30 back country airfields the past 13 years.

ITD employees escape crash that claims truck driver
Two District 3 employees escaped serious injury Sept. 17 when a semi-truck struck the back of a directional sign truck and then the back of a broom truck that was engaged in maintenance activities on Interstate 84. Shortly after impact, however, the eastbound truck jackknifed and burst into flames, claiming the life of its driver – Valeriy Morar, 40, of Pasco, Wash.

Corps issues conditional green light for Sand Creek
After an extensive application review, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Walla Walla District issued a draft permit to the ITD for the Sand Creek Byway. The Department of the Army draft permit was issued with conditions to minimize impacts to Sand Creek and to mitigate wetlands proposed to be filled for construction of the project.

Board votes to submit $134 million GARVEE request
Following a comprehensive report on the GARVEE program and staff recommendations on options for continuing to move it forward, the Idaho Transportation Board voted to seek an additional $134 million in grant authorization from the 2008 Legislature. The board voted to advance that funding request at its monthly business meeting Sept. 20 in Pocatello.

DMV, Correctional Industries introduce digital plates
ITD, its Division of Motor Vehicles, and the Idaho Department of Correction jointly unveiled four new license plate designs – the first to be produced in a new digital format – during a news conference at Correctional Industries. Sales began Sept. 24 for the Breast Cancer Awareness, Idaho Historic Preservation, Elks Rehabilitation Hospital and National Rifle Association plates.


Special guests help inaugurate new I-84 project
With a backhoe excavator parked near the westbound lanes of Interstate 84, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, legislators, city officials and others gathered in eastern Boise Sept. 27 to mark the start of major improvements to the highway. The groundbreaking ceremony on the Eisenman Overpass included Otter, Idaho Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John McGee, Sen. Elliot Werk, Idaho Transportation Board Member Monte McClure, Nampa Mayor Tom Dale and others.

ITD begins efforts to curb greenhouse gases
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter issued an executive order this spring directing state agencies to assess energy consumption and identify measures that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). He charged the Department of Environmental Quality to coordinate efforts by all state agencies. ITD produced a preliminary report on its facilities and transportation fleet.

New Chief Technology Officer brings global perspective
Jon Pope, a three-year veteran of the Idaho Department of Lands, embarked on a new, yet similar, position Oct. 22 when he assumed responsibilities for managing ITD’s information technology program. He was chosen from a pool of outstanding candidates to become the department’s Chief Technology Officer. Dave Tolman, administrator of the Division of Administration, announced the selection.

New administrator familiar with challenges
Among the most pressing challenges for Randy Kyrias a few years ago was navigating the congested freeways of southern California and managing a medical transport company. Eight years and about 900 miles later, his greatest challenge is to help public agencies, rural cities and growing urban areas cope with the prospects of congestion similar to what he left behind. He became administrator of the Division of Public Transportation in October, following the retirement of Larry Falkner.


Community collaboration produces safe footing
Kay Jones looks across the American Falls High School campus at a half-mile ribbon of black and can testify about the importance of collaboration. The 10-foot-wide asphalt path connects the high school with Teton Street at the American Falls city limit. It is the product of multiple jurisdictions – including ITD’s District 5 – that were determined to eliminate what had been long recognized as a threat to student safety.

18-year history of efficiencies presented to board
ITD completed an extensive review of the way it delivers products and services and will continue to look for innovative ways to make operations even more efficient in the future. Idaho Transportation Board members reviewed a preliminary report on efficiencies that cover ITD operations from 1994 to 2012.

ITD introduces improved 511 Web sites
Improvements to Idaho’s 511 Traveler Services Web site will help motorists become better informed about winter conditions on highways and make better travel decisions. Visitors to the Web site – – will find two options. A low-bandwidth site is provided for Internet users who access the Web through dial-up connections, and a faster version that uses higher bandwidths.

They would have known better in Idaho
GMAC, in a report summarized by CNN, indicated that 36 million drivers, or roughly the population of California, would have failed their driver’s test if they had to take it today. Fifty-five percent of the respondents didn’t know how many feet before making a left or right turn to activate their turn signals (no mention was made about how many drivers know what turn signals are used for). Idaho drivers were considered the most knowledgeable in the nation, according to the report.

Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene sign tribal tax agreements
Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and officials from the Nez Perce and Kootenai tribes reached agreements in November for the collection and allocation of motor fuel taxes on their respective tribal lands, joining the Coeur d'Alene and Shoshone-Bannock tribes in resolving the issue.


Legislative meetings lead to positive dialogue
A delegation led by Transportation Board chairman Darrell Manning and ITD Director Pam Lowe met with legislators to outline the department’s priorities heading into the 2008 Legislative session. The series included stops in all six districts and focused on the initial draft of ITD’s efficiency report, a presentation on revenue needs and a brief summary of the GARVEE Program.

Funding approved for nine of 10 Scenic Byway proposals
Idaho’s intrinsic beauty will get a little more attention as a result of federal funding that enhances the state’s scenic byway system. Garry Young, coordinator of the transportation department’s Idaho Scenic Byway program learned that nine of 10 projects submitted to the Federal Highway Administration earlier this year were approved for funding.

Gordon Wilmoth named ITD Controller
The view from Gordon Wilmoth’s office hasn’t changed much the past six months … but it’s about to. Wilmoth became acting Controller in September when Dave Tolman vacated the position to become acting administrator for the Division of Administration. After Tolman’s position became permanent, Wilmoth sought to make his official as well.

Joan Benzon receives third award for fatality reporting
Between the state and federal computers that flank Joan Benzon in ITD’s Office of Highway Operations and Safety, sit three national awards that recognize consistently great work that she performs for Idaho.

Published 12-21-07