June 2008 Transporter highlights
Governor announces transportation conferences to address growing revenue shortfall
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has scheduled a series of meetings throughout Idaho to solicit input from local elected officials, business leaders and the public about alternatives to address the quarter-billion dollar revenue shortfall confronting Idaho’s transportation system.
“Building Roads, Building Bridges, Building Consensus” will address the funding gap for infrastructure improvements throughout Idaho. The goal, according to the governor’s office, is to “make a compelling case in every corner of Idaho for the need to immediately address our growing backlog of transportation infrastructure maintenance and improvements.
"Rising construction costs, improving fuel economy and a significant drop in how much people are driving as a result of higher gas prices all are cutting into our user- fee-based revenue stream, reducing our ability to keep up with the needs of our aging and deteriorating highways and bridges,” according to the governor’s announcement.
Cities, counties, highway districts and citizens throughout Idaho rely on the user fees to provide public safety, stimulate economic opportunity, ensure access to Idaho’s share of federal transportation matching funds and maintain highways and bridges.
Director engages ITD employees in series of meetings
ITD Director Pam Lowe, along with Deputy Director Scott Stokes and division administrators, began meeting with employees this week in the Boise area as part of an annual outreach series to answer questions and receive input.
The Employee Outreach Spring 2008 series began in April when Lowe met with employees in District 2. A meeting with District 4 employees followed in Twin Falls early this week.
Lowe and Chief Engineer Steve Hutchinson visited the Bridge and Right-of-Way sections Wednesday (June 5).
“These meetings provide an opportunity for two-way exchange,” Lowe explains. “It is important that we share with employees decisions and discussions that relate directly to their jobs. It is equally important that we (administrators) have a chance to hear from employees – to continue dialogue about their needs and insights.
“The meetings are very informal, the agenda is employee-driven and attendance is optional. We really hope employees will take advantage of the meetings so we can learn from each other. Communication is essential to working efficiently as a team.”
Sale of new license plates to benefit 2009 Special Olympics World Games in Idaho
New license plates went on sale Monday (June 2) as a way of promoting the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in Idaho this winter. The new plates, approved by the 2008 Idaho Legislature, are available at county automobile licensing offices throughout the state.
Personalized and sample plates that use the same design featuring the games official logo are available only by mail or fax from ITD's Division of Motor Vehicles in Boise. Orders also can be placed online through the DMV Web site .
All future renewals for the plates will be processed at county licensing offices. The special license plate program is expected to continue beyond the conclusion of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho.
ITD hopes to expand participation in TRAC engineering project at Columbia High School
More than 100 Columbia High School students in Nampa benefited from the expertise of six ITD engineers this winter during the introduction of the TRAC (Transportation and Civil Engineering) educational program.
Developed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the program introduces high school and middle school students to the role engineers play in transportation. Ultimately, its intent is to attract more students to the engineering profession.
Six ITD engineers rotated into Columbia classrooms, integrating engineering principles into three disciplines, or PACS, as the program refers to the modules. Engineering-related curriculum was introduced into English, Engineering, Math, and American Government classes.
Greg Laragan, assistant chief engineer (operations), assisted Michelle George, a recruiter with ITD’s Human Resource Services, in implementing TRAC last fall. They hope to expand ITD’s participation when classes resume this year.
DMV begins assessing fee for online credit card transactions
Effective Sunday (June 1), ITD began charging a vendor-processing fee to customers who use credit cards to complete some online Division of Motor Vehicle transactions.
The department had been absorbing processing fees for on-line credit card transactions completed through Access Idaho, but the Idaho Transportation Board instituted a new policy that calls for passing the fees on to customers.
John Gray's boat build for speed, tight turns, not fishing Mechanic turns
horsepower into racing trophies
If you have a need for speed, and tight, hairpin turns with thundering horsepower don’t bother you, you needed to be in Marsing on Saturday (June 7). That’s where you’d have found the United States Sprint Boat Association (USSBA) setting up for afternoon races, and that’s where you’d have found District 3’s John Gray, waiting in his Super Modified #611 boat.
Because of engine problems, Gray didn’t compete in the later rounds, but he vows to have all of the bugs worked out in time for the next race. Sprint boats can make a 90- or 180-degree turn while traveling more than 50 mph on a corner just 12-14" wide.
Gray has been a mechanic with ITD for more than 19 years. He works as a “light-duty mechanic” on smaller gasoline engines or equipment such as chain saws, mowers, air compressors, weed trimmers message boards as well as cars and pickups.
He often works on the bigger equipment, too. “In winter, I do the sanders and big trucks, because that’s the big concern at that time of year,” he explained. Gray also performs routine maintenance and does basic repairs for District 3.
Students learn principles of bridge design from toothpicks, glue and ITD volunteers
All you get is 250 toothpicks and 1.25 ounces of Elmer’s glue to construct a six-inch bridge. Do it right and it might hold 100 pounds.
The first goal however, is hope that it will hold the three-pound test bucket.
From the start, just holding the bucket drew a gasp from a handful of fourth grade students at Morningside elementary in Twin Falls on May 28. Watching the first bridge hold 24 pounds drew a big cheer.
The class was graded on the construction and design of the bridge, but breaking them was just for fun. Hanging a bucket to be filled with sand one cup at a time tested the strength of the structures.
Traveler Services to join with Public Transportation to offer new multi-modal enhancement
The ITD Division of Public Transportation will partner with the Division of Highways to fund a major enhancement to Idaho’s Traveler Information Service (511), integrating transit-related information and making the system truly multi-modal.
Idaho’s system provides traveler information via the Internet (511.idaho.gov) and on an interactive telephone system (by dialing 5-1-1 from within the state of Idaho). Currently, the information focuses primarily on car and truck travel on the state’s highways. Soon, transit users will be able to obtain information regarding statewide public transportation services.
Some of the primary features that will be provided with the transit enhancements include:
Transit information (Web): The high bandwidth version of the Idaho 511 Web site will include transit information for fixed route service.
Young women learn about engineering field at Boise State University workshop
It was a fairly exclusive club – no boys were allowed,
Instead, about 40 young women converged June 13-14 at Boise State University for the fourth annual E-Girls Workshop to learn that engineering can be fun and a suitable profession for women.
Monica Crider, ITD engineer, and Erika Stoddard, an ITD engineer in training, told the high school sophomores and juniors that “scientists typically research and discover new theories and engineers apply them to create solutions.”
“Engineers can be fun people, not boring ‘shoe watchers,’” Crider said.
Crider and Stoddard introduced workshop participants to a tower-building exercise using gumdrops, toothpicks, drinking straws and clay as construction materials. The goal of the exercise was to build the tallest freestanding tower in 10 minutes.
Farewell set for Hutchinson Wednesday (June 25)
Call it a roast… a celebrity gala…a lifetime tribute… a bon voyage sendoff… or just an old-fashioned retirement party…
Friends and colleagues will assemble next week to say good-bye to Steve Hutchinson as he trades the panoramic view from his second-story Headquarters office for the vistas of golf greens. The departing chief engineer reportedly believes, “the worst day spent golfing is still far better than the best day spent working.”
Co-workers invite Steve’s friends to “join us for cake and fun as we celebrate his many accomplishments and send him on his way.” The farewell will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday (June 25) in the auditorium at Headquarters. His last official day at ITD will be Friday (June 27).
The invitation lists his favorite pastime as golf, his favorite television show as M*A*S*H, his favorite car as the Lamborghini and his favorite movie as Star Wars. In reality, Steve’s favorite TV show is live coverage of the PGA, his favorite car is a golf cart and his favorite movie is "Caddyshack."
Retired ITD engineer Jim Pline
inducted into Idaho Engineering Hall of Fame
Jim Pline, whose contributions to the engineering profession date back more than 50 years to 1954, was named to the Idaho Engineering Hall of Fame and was appropriately honored during the organization’s annual meeting recently in Boise.
Pline retired after 35 years from ITD as the roadway design supervisor at Headquarters in 1987, culminating a distinguished career that began as an Engineer in Training (construction) in Kooskia. He served three years in the Air Force as a civil engineer before returning to the EIT track in materials and traffic in Boise.
He also served as a traffic technician, associate traffic engineer, assistant state traffic engineer, assistant district engineer, state traffic engineer, environmental and corridor planning supervisor, concept review supervisor and finally roadway design supervisor (1983-1987).
Board awards bid for Sand Creek Byway project
contractor awarded $98.4 million bid
The Idaho Transportation Board approved a construction bid for the Sand Creek Byway project on June 19, clearing one of the final hurdles for the largest single highway construction contract in ITD’s history. Approval came during the board’s June business meeting in Boise.
Parsons RCI, of Sumner, Wash., is the successful bidder at $98.4 million.
The Sand Creek Byway project has been a contentious issue for the Bonner County community for many years. Building an alternate route on U.S. 95 on the eastern side of Sandpoint has been a topic of local interest since the 1940s. Several ideas have been discussed in the community over the years, but those ideas didn’t progress beyond the drawing board.
That changed in 1990 when ITD began studying the U.S. 95 North/South Alternative Route.
As part of the U.S. 95 North/South study, ITD performed a complete environmental analysis from Sagle to Ponderay as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed in 1999 and the Federal Highway Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the EIS in 2000.
Five projects honored for Transportation Excellence
The Idaho Transportation department paid homage Thursday to some of the state’s most successful transportation-related projects and most of the recipients were family members.
Two of the Excellence in Transportation awards acknowledged extraordinary work in public participation – I-84, Cole to Broadway Soundwalls and I-84, Broadway to Eisenman rehabilitation. Other awards were given for transportation planning, environmental stewardship and construction.
The one-hour ceremony included a welcome by Nestor Fernandez, opening remarks by District 3 board member and vice-chairman Monte McClure, an introduction by Director Pam Lowe and the presentation of awards by retiring Chief Engineer Steve Hutchinson.
Recipients submitted a summary of a public transportation improvement or project completed within the last three calendar years and focused on innovations, context sensitive solutions, public involvement, partnerships, quality of experience and safety factors.
DMV Modernization receives technology award
A technology project that vastly improves the exchange of information between ITD’s Division of Motor Vehicles and local licensing/registration offices was named the state’s best “government-to-government” project.
Gov. C.L. “Butch Otter” presented the award Wednesday during the monthly meeting of the Information Technology Resource Management Council (ITRMC) that also honored several other state agencies for innovative uses of technology.
The IT Achievement Awards program honored Phase 1 of the DMV Modernization Project. ITD introduced the project in 2006 to modernize technology and enhance service delivery at more than 100 county locations across Idaho.
ITD also received an honorable mention for its interactive Statewide Transportation Improvement Program interactive CD and Web site.
CADD project named semifinalist for international award
ITD’s ambitious project to upgrade an antiquated – and sometimes disjointed – computer aided drafting and design (CADD) system statewide emerged as a semifinalist in international competition this spring.
The project to standardize CADD software and improve workstations throughout the department was in competition for the 2008 BE (Bentley Engineering) Awards of Excellence. The awards were announced at a May 29 ceremony that was part of the three-day international Bentley conference in Baltimore.
Ray Oldham, who organized and guided ITD’s project, attended the conference along with Monica Crider and Chris Derbidge who works in Design. ITD’s entry was in the special category of Developing the Infrastructure Workplace, competing with other projects from throughout the world.
Gresham, Smith and Partners won the award for developing Nissan America’s Corporate Facility in Franklin, Tenn. The workforce award was one of about 20 presented during the ceremony, Oldham said.