Idaho Transportation

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


Board to dedicate new training room
in honor of retiring board member Jack Combo

For the past 18 years, Idaho Transportation Board Member Jack Combo has been a strong supporter of ITD employees. He knows they are the backbone of the department. He knows they are committed to their jobs and are dedicated to serving the great state of Idaho. Part of Combo’s vocal support has been in the area of training and development. He has been a strong advocate of continuing education for ITD employees as a means of personal development, furthering their careers and improving ITD services.

Because of Combo’s philosophy, and in honor of his extensive service to ITD, it is only fitting that a training room at Headquarters will be dedicated as the “John X. Combo Training Room.” Formal designation of the title will come during Thursday’s Transportation Board meeting in Boise.

The dedication is expected to begin at 10:15 a.m. in the Auditorium, immediately after the morning break. Employees are encouraged to attend in honor of and support for Combo, whose term on the board expires at the end of this month.

Gov. Andrus appointed Combo to the board in 1990. He was re-appointed to two additional six-year terms by governors Batt and Kempthorne, respectively. After his 18 years of service to ITD and the citizens of Idaho, the department will say good-bye and thank you to Combo upon the governor’s announcement of the replacement for District 6.

An open house to thank Combo for his extensive service tentatively is being planned; look for information in a future Transporter.

Other board agenda items

Annual report on status of state-owned dwellings
ITD staff is to report to the board on the status of the department’s state-owned dwellings as prescribed by Idaho code. ITD owns 11 houses, three bunkhouses, an apartment at Johnson Creek Air Strip and 35 trailer pads.

The department can provide or rent state-owned dwellings to its employees when the best interests of the department are served. Some employees reside in a state-owned dwelling as a condition of their employment. These locations are Reeds Bar and at Powell in District 2, Riddle in District 3, and the Johnson Creek Airport.

The fair market rental value was determined seven years ago with appraisals completed by district right-of-way staff. Each year the rent and reductions are compared for “reasonableness” with dwellings owned by the Department of Parks and Recreation and U.S. Forest Service.

ITD also owns 10 trailer pads and three houses at rest areas around the state. Rest area maintenance contracts require the contractor to be available for daily conferences and on call for emergencies 24 hours a day on a daily basis. Providing a dwelling is part of maintenance contract consideration.

Traveler Information System (CARS 511)
511 Traveler Services System Manager Alison Lantz will give an update to board members about the state’s system that provides Web-based and telephone reports on highway conditions, weather, construction activity and tourist opportunities.

This system, known as 511, was launched in November 2005 as an improvement to the recorded road report system, with the intent of helping motorists make informed travel decisions.

Lantz will demonstrate and elaborate on recent changes to the system, including:

  • Improvements to the low bandwidth (dial-up) Web site such as a larger map, events in geographic order within each route and future events on the trucking page;
  • New high bandwidth Web site using Google maps as a background with pan and zoom capabilities, faster system updates and improved location reporting;
  • Improved 511 phone system using the latest text-to-speech software, better location reporting and a trucking menu;
  • AMBER alert banner displayed on both Web sites and a message played on the phone system when an AMBER alert has been issued; and
  • Subscription-based notification service providing information from the 511 system based on the types of events subscribers pick on selected highways and during chosen time periods. This service is available only to public agencies and the media.

Notification of Non-Attainment Areas for PM2.5
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) notified ITD that two areas in the state eventually will be designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as non-attainment for PM2.5, particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less. Transportation Planning and Programming Administrator Matthew Moore will brief the board on what the non-attainment status will mean to the communities of Pinehurst in Shoshone County and Franklin in Franklin County.

A value greater than 36 in a 24-hour period is above the acceptable limit. To be in non-attainment, the average for three years must be above that level. During testing the past three years, the average level for Pinehurst and Franklin were 38 and 63, respectively.
Although both communities have three-year averages that exceeded the allowed level, the effective date of non-attainment designation will not begin until April 2010. After that date, the state has three years to develop State Implementation Plans for each area.

DEQ is applying for Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) Program funds to assist in the development of these plans. If either community has a highway expansion project, air-conformity determinations will have to be in place before the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program can be approved for that area.

When ITD became aware of the new PM2.5 standards in 1997, there was concern that as many as 15 areas in the state might be designated as non-attaining. At that time, the CMAQ Program began to focus on projects that could reduce PM2.5. That strategy seems to have been successful as only two areas within the state are considered in non-attainment.

Published 1-11-8