Board approves Safe Routes to School
In 1969, 50 percent of children living within 1 mile of school walked or biked to school. In 2001, only 15 percent did. The federal Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Program was established to reverse that trend, according to program representatives who spoke last week to the Idaho Transportation Board.
The Safe Routes to School program was created to encourage children to walk and bicycle to school and to make that option safer. It results in healthier children, reduced congestion and improved air quality.
State and local governments, schools, and non-profit organizations can apply for funding to promote walking and bicycling to school. According to ITD policy, a maximum of $100,000 is allowed for infrastructure projects and $50,000 for non-infrastructure projects, such as education, incentives, crossing guard supplies and efforts to organize Walking School Bus programs.
Program staff solicits projects for funding. The SR2S Advisory Committee then reviews the projects and makes a formal recommendation to the board.
At its Nov. 20 meeting in Boise, the board approved six infrastructure projects totaling $420,045 and 21 non-infrastructure projects in the amount of $166,970 for FY09. Additionally, seven infrastructure projects for $465,500 were approved for FY10. The non-infrastructure projects will be recommended to the board later.
Most of the infrastructure projects are for sidewalks or multi-purpose paths. About one-quarter are for high-visibility crosswalk improvements.
Some of the communities that will receive funding include Ririe, Jerome, Kooskia, American Falls, Moscow, Emmett, and Potlatch.
Other board business
Fire Response Plan
Earlier this year, Emergency Program Coordinator Louie Albright provided a report to the board on an innovative partnership to address the issue of roadway closures and damage associated with vehicle fires.
The fire response plan, whereby agreements are established with appropriate fire districts to respond to vehicular fires along highways that are outside of their respective jurisdiction, reduces congestion and delays to the traveling public and has the potential to greatly reduce damage to ITD’s infrastructure as well as non-ITD property.
ITD pays these fire districts for the costs incurred; however, ITD then seeks reimbursement from the vehicle owner/insurance company.
The board asked Albright to come back with additional information about the agreements. One member thought fires should be part of the Hazardous Materials coordination. Albright reported that Idaho law does not allow the Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction plan to cover the costs associated with routine firefighting procedures.
In response to the earlier board comment that grass fires in ITD’s right-of-way should be included in the Fire Response Plan, Albright explained that agreements for those fires could be established at additional cost to ITD because it would be virtually impossible to determine who caused the fire, and consequently who to bill for reimbursement. Generally, the Bureau of Land Management or Idaho Department of Lands responds to those fires to lessen the risk of fire spreading to their adjacent land.
Update on the I-84, Robinson Road Bridge Collapse, District 3
District 3 Resident Engineer Shawna King provided an update on the collapse of a bridge span being created near the interstate for Robinson Road. When Graham Construction & Management Inc. was pouring the first of four slabs to form the deck for the I-84/Robinson Road Bridge on Oct. 27, the bridge span collapsed. Fortunately, none of the construction workers was seriously injured.
The investigation into the cause of the collapse continues. ITD hired two independent firms to investigate the incident in addition to the contractor’s and OSHA’s investigations. Removal of the debris is ongoing. Work on the deck has been suspended, however, other related work in the area is progressing. There was no impact to traffic on I-84.