April 2008 Transporter highlights
Clark, mighty oak shared common beginning at ITD
To honor Dennis Clark’s vision, his March 31 retirement and the tree’s tenacity of a tree he helped plant 40 years earlier. Colleagues presented a cast aluminum plaque that reads: “They said it wouldn’t grow. Oak tree planted in 1968 by Dennis Clark – 40 years of ITD Service”
Friends, family and colleagues dropped by for a farewell open house at Headquarters March 31 to honor Clark. The event was intended to last about two hours. It stretched well past three as people continued to file by to tell him good-bye.
Among the notable projects he worked on were the U.S. 95 Weiser Bypass, U.S. 95 Devil’s Elbow and the Interstate 84 Glenns Ferry structure. He was involved in initial planning on two projects that were proposed but have yet to built – the McCall Alternate Route and Smiths Ferry to Round Valley, both on Idaho 55.
Legislature approves ITD's FY '08 appropriation, defers decision on long-term funding
Transportation funding, one of Governor Otter’s cornerstone issues entering the 2008 Legislature, will return when lawmakers assemble next year. They debated until the closing hours how to address funding for the state’s growing transportation needs.
They generally acknowledged the transportation system is falling farther behind each year because of rapid growth, flattening revenue and double-digit inflation in the highway construction industry. How to close the gap between revenue and needs of the system will be left to the next Legislature.
“I am confident they will do the right thing,” said Darrell Manning, chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board. Although disappointed that long-range transportation funding was not resolved, both Manning and ITD Director Pam Lowe agreed that a foundation has been laid for next year.
Several revenue-generating proposals were discussed this year, including the governor’s suggestion to raise vehicle registration fees and a House bill that would have tempered the registration increase with a small gas tax hike. In the end, however, legislators deferred action until after an independent transportation department audit.
Legislators passed, and Gov. Otter approved, $550,000 for that audit.
Board commits funds to highways, suspends new enhancement project requests
Faced with flat revenues and escalating construction costs, the Idaho Transportation Board decided Thursday to preserve funds for state and local highway projects by suspending planned programs beyond 2010 aimed at addressing tourism and congestion issues.
The transportation board voted against accepting applications for projects in 2011 and beyond for the federally funded enhancement and congestion programs. In addition planning projects were eliminated. The decision will be part of the draft State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) that will be open to public comment throughout the summer.
The transportation board will make a final decision on the STIP in September. Projects already included in the enhancement and congestion programs for 2008 through 2010 will be funded.
"We are having to decide between maintaining our highways and suspending programs. The board is not making this decision lightly," Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell V Manning said.
"This is a tough but prudent decision, and the responsible thing to do," Governor C.L. Butch Otter said. "It shows more clearly than ever how important it is that we all work together this year to find solutions to our revenue needs in time for the 2009 session of the Legislature."
Board approves funds for scenic byway projects
The Idaho Transportation considered and approved at its April 17 meeting in Lewiston a funding proposal that will enhance informational signs statewide as part of the scenic byway program.
Scenic byway funding is available on a nationally competitive basis for routes that have been designated as a state scenic, historic, or back country byway and All American Roads and National Scenic Byways.
The Scenic Byways Advisory Committee prioritized project proposals and submitted the list to the transportation board for its consideration. The board approved the list that now will be forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration for approval.
The list includes a request of $811,400 in federal funds for the scenic byways. With a match of 20 percent, the total for the four projects is $1,014,250.
Public Transportation drafts plan to address state's mobility needs
Customer service, mobility and local leadership are the focal points of a public transportation plan recently approved by the Idaho Transportation Board. Idaho's Mobility and Access Pathway (IMAP) outlines a vision for achieving efficient and effective mobility networks for Idahoans and describes the scope of the effort necessary to achieve it.
"Public Transportation is very relevant in Idaho," said Division of Public Transportation Administrator Randy Kyrias. "Our rural nature does not make mobility less necessary; it makes it more challenging. Idaho's unique characteristics make mobility essential."
IMAP is a reflection of the transportation department's emphasis on customer service, Kyrias explained. The Division of Public Transportation embraces the concept of serving the customer first - the customer being any individual with an existing and potential need for transportation and user mobility service.