August 2008 Transporter highlights
Idaho's highway performance ranking slips as deficient pavement ratio rises
A report released last month showed that Idaho has slipped four places, from 10th to 14th, in overall performance of its transportation system.
The 17th annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984-2006) analyzes the condition and performance of the U.S. state-owned road system. Los Angeles-based research institution, The Reason Foundation, published the report based on the analysis of authors David T. Hartgen, Ph.D. and Ravi K. Karnam.
Idaho’s decline from the top 10, where it traditionally placed, reflects, in part, deteriorating pavement condition. Only 15 percent of the state’s highways were rated deficient in 2002; last year the pavement deficiency grew to 19 percent and may continue to escalate without the infusion of additional funds for highway preservation and restoration.
The national study, sometimes referred to as the Hartgen report, tracks the performance of the state-owned roads from1984 to 2006, based on 12 indicators. They cover highway revenues and expenditures, pavement and bridge condition, congestion, accident rates and narrow lanes. It is based on data that states provide to the federal government.
'Zipper' streamlines patching process
Sections of Idaho 81 east of Declo are in poor condition. Years of heavy truck traffic and blistering winters have taken their toll resulting in deep and dangerous wheel ruts.
But it’s only the ruts, not the entire road that needs replaced. That is where the Asphalt Zipper has come in handy. A four-foot wide roto-mill, the Zipper is mounted on the bucket of a front-end loader and carves a groove about two-and-a-half inches deep dig out the worst sections.
In a 12-foot lane, milling and replacing the asphalt in only the worst four feet is being considered by District Four as one of several ways to save precious road maintenance funds while preserving the road for a few more years.
The Zipper was touted in the 2007 ITD Efficiency Report as being utilized by the districts to provide one-time or on-going savings. By milling and patching only the worst sections of road, the Zipper saves in asphalt costs stated in the report to be $85,000 over milling and paving the entire width.
Pennsylvania firm chosen to conduct ITD review
The legislative Office of Performance Evaluations announced its contract with a Pennsylvania based company Avant IMC, LLC, to conduct a performance audit of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).
Last session, the Idaho Legislature requested an independent, objective performance audit of ITD, as outlined in House Concurrent Resolution No. 50. The Office of Performance Evaluations, under the direction of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, is overseeing the contract and plans to release the consultant’s report of findings and recommendations to the Legislature in January 2009.
The performance audit of ITD will focus on the department’s highway programs in three areas: management and performance, contractor selection and oversight, and outsourcing. The detailed scope of the study is available at the Office of Performance Evaluations’ Web site www.idaho.gov/ope.
Director announces creation of internal performance management office
ITD Director Pam Lowe announced this week creation of a new Performance Management Office that will track efficiencies and performances internally.
“One of our focus areas in our Strategic Plan is ‘Leading Through Agency Performance.’ We have had a team, led by Dave Amick, focused on this area. The team recommended, and Scott and I concurred, that a Performance Management Office be established,” Lowe said in a Tuesday memo to management personnel.
The office will function as part of the Division of Administration under administrator Dave Tolman.
ITD to co-sponsor two-day conference on mid-20th century architecture
The Idaho Transportation Department joins five other organizations in sponsoring a two-day conference Sept. 4, 5, that focuses on mid-century architecture and historic preservation.
"Modernism in the Northwest will bring national and local experts to Boise for discussions that range from mid-century architectural styles and interior design to recording and evaluating the recent past, and a bus tour of Boise’s mid-century architecture, including ITD Headquarters that was constructed in 1961.
The varied agenda is targeted for practitioners of architecture and architectural history as well as cultural resource consultants and the general public. It will focus on identifying and evaluating architectural resources that “embody the distinctive characteristics ofmid-century (20th) American architecture,” residential and commercial structures from the post-World War II era (1945-1975) and their stylistic details.
Funding conference speakers say it's time to find new form of transportation funding
The seventh in a series of statewide conferences about Idaho’s transportation funding shortfall attracted nearly 300 people in Boise Tuesday, including Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, and transportation officials from Washington, D.C.
“The message was loud and clear,” Gov. Otter said of public responses at conferences from Coeur d’Alene to Pocatello. “Fix our roads, and fix them now.” The issue is not limited to northern Idaho or southern Idaho and is not confined to a political party, the governor added. Idaho’s transportation system is a shared infrastructure, and the funding dilemma will require a shared solution.
“I don’t know what the solution is…” he said. But the six previous conferences, attended by about 850 Idahoans, generated a lot of ideas from which he can choose. “Idahoans historically have been very independent and realize the only helping hand is at the end of their sleeve,” he said.
Gov. Otter’s remarks set the stage for a full morning of presentations, including perspectives from new Federal Highway Administrator Tom Madison and John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials.
Funding reform needed at federal level says new head of Federal Highway Administration
Just six days into his new position as head of the Federal Highway Administration, and with the prospects that his tenure will end in January, Tom Madison complimented Idaho officials for their efforts to address the transportation funding challenge.
The cost of congestion, in terms of moving both people and products, costs Americans bout $150 billion a year, Madison said. And the congestion isn’t confined to metropolitan areas – even rural areas are “choked” by congestion, he said.
At a time when the transportation system is in greatest need, it’s come to a crossroad, Madison said. Fundamental reform is greatly needed. He said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters recently introduced an initiative, “Refocus, Reform and Renew -- the National Approach to Highway and Transit Systems in America.” The effort seeks to overhaul the way U.S. transportation decisions and investments are made.
Crews dismantle east half of bridge over I-84
The west half of the Franklin Boulevard Bridge over I-84 in Nampa was rebuilt in 1999. On Aug. 27, crews started dismantling the east half of the bridge (built in 1965) in a reconstruction project that will extend into next summer.
Removing a portion of the bridge will allow future I-84 widening between the Franklin Boulevard and Garrity Boulevard interchanges in Nampa. The widening project is anticipated to begin in late 2009.
As the bridge is demolished, old concrete from the bridge will be taken to the Boise Fire Department Airport Firefighting Training Facility and used for training purposes to simulate a collapsed building. Fire fighters will break through the concrete to rescue " victims" during training.
Rindlisbacher named new District 6 engineer; relationship with colleagues moves to new level
For years he has worked with them or for them. But on Sept. 8, Blake Rindlisbacher will become one of them.
In a career that predates graduation from the University of Idaho Civil Engineering program, Rindlisbacher has been professionally associated with all but one of the ITD’s current district engineers. They have each been colleagues and mentors. Rindlisbacher will become the newest member of the group, replacing Tom Cole as District 6 Engineer in Rigby.
He spent the past 7 1⁄2 years as Ed Bala’s understudy (assistant district engineer) in District 5, a training ground that has prepared him well for his new position. Both districts share similar geography, climate, growth and system needs. It promises to be a smooth, and relatively short-term commute from Pocatello to Rigby, about 60 miles to the north.
Rindlisbacher began his ITD career in Idaho Falls (District 6) as an hourly employee in the summer of 1989. The following summer he held a similar position in District 2. He accepted a full-time position as an Engineer In Training (EIT) in District 4 after graduating from the University of Idaho with an engineering degree in 1991.
District 3 communications specialist chosen to manage ITD's Governmental Affairs office
Mollie McCarty, who has represented District 3 as a Public Affairs Specialist the past decade, was selected this week to be ITD’s Governmental Affairs Program Manager, effective immediately.
In her new position, McCarty will serve as the department’s liaison to legislators and other elected officials on transportation policy issues. She will report to Director Pam Lowe and Deputy Director Scott Stokes, and will supervise a staff of two – Tim Greeley and Management Assistant Linda Emry.
She will play an integral role in the legislative process and in interactions with local elected officials.
"Mollie brings unique talents, abilities and experience to the position," said ITD Director Pam Lowe. "Her understanding of the department and her ability to communicate effectively with diverse interest groups are tremendous assets."