Idaho citizens from Sandpoint to Chubbuck took advantage of new access to transportation when they posed questions to Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning and ITD Director Pam Lowe recently.
Manning and Lowe addressed a variety of transportation-related topics when they appeared on a special one-hour segment of Idaho Public Television’s Dialogue. The weekly program, usually 30 minutes, is conducted in an interview format with host Marcia Franklin. She discusses topics of general interest to Idahoans and invites callers from throughout the state to call in with questions for Dialogue guests.
In a prelude to the Jan. 24 program, Franklin said that nearly all facets of life in Idaho are touched in some way by transportation.
Lowe, who said she followed in her father’s footsteps by becoming a transportation engineer, indicated ITD’s top two focus areas are “efficiency – stretching the taxpayers’ dollars just as far as we absolutely can,” and improving customer service to the public.
“These are the two things that we’re excited about and proud to have been working on for the past couple of years. As I look ahead, we’re really going to focus on these areas.”
Much of the discussion and a number of the telephone calls from Idaho citizens related to ITD funding and the potential for increased revenue. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, in his State of the State address, indicated support for increases in registration fees but said he would not support increased fuel taxes.
Manning said that indexing fuel to inflation costs could help alleviate some of the revenue shortfall, but there are no plans being considered to make such request.
In response to a question from Franklin, Lowe indicated that toll roads were low on the list of priorities emerging from the Forum on Transportation Investment report. Idaho does not have the traffic volume to make toll roads realistic. She said that many states are replacing high vehicle occupancy (HVO) lanes with toll lanes as a revenue source. But I-84 in the Treasure Valley does not have enough lanes to dedicate one as a toll lane, she added.
Dialogue viewers called with questions that ranged from snow plowing and bridge maintenance to commercial truck traffic, public transportation, the state’s GARVEE program and the Sand Creek Byway. Callers from nearly every geographic region of Idaho – including Sandpoint, Hailey, Bliss, Pocatello, Nampa, Burley and Athol participated in the question-answer segment.
The one-hour program is archived on the public television Web site. It is best suited for Internet users with high-speed access, although a low bandwidth option is available.