Transporter chronicles news highlights of 2007
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 www.idahobyways.gov,
promotes 28 byways throughout the state. It went active on the Internet
on June 25.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – 511.idaho.gov
– 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.