October 2008 Transporter highlights
ITD budget exempt from governor's holdback request;
review of transportation revenue a constant process
Budget holdbacks announced last week by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter will not directly impact the transportation department because its revenue is not derived from the state’s general fund.
But the economic conditions that prompted Otter to ask most state agencies to reduce their budget 1 percent similarly affect ITD. In contrast to their colleagues at other state agencies, however, ITD’s budget team monitors revenue on a monthly basis, or even more frequently, and recommends adjustments as needed throughout the fiscal year.
ITD’s revenue comes from dedicated funds – primarily fuel tax receipts and fees for vehicle registrations, titles and drivers’ licenses. Revenue is deposited into the State Highway Account and State Aeronautics Fund.
“As a dedicated-fund agency, ITD is usually exempt from governor holdback actions aimed at offsetting general fund shortfalls,” explains department budget officer Joel Drake.
Crews complete twin-killing
of Robinson, Black Cat bridges in one night
A big, and necessary, step in the eventual expansion of Interstate 84 between the Garrity Interchange in Nampa and the Meridian Interchanges occurred with a crash Friday (Sept. 26) when crews demolished both the Robinson Boulevard and Black Cat Road bridges over the freeway.
Initially, only Robinson was scheduled to be removed Friday night; Black Cat was to come down the following night. That would have required two separate nine-hour I-84 closures. However, the work was accomplished in one night to maximize public convenience. A few extra excavators and additional equipment were brought in to accomplish the feat.
'We received a proposal late Friday to mobilize additional equipment and accomplish both operations in one night. The result is safety and convenience for motorists and surrounding residents.'
Idaho Scenic Byways Web site wins national award
National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop
Idaho’s 27 scenic byways tell a story of the varied history, terrain and beauty of the intermountain northwest in Idaho. The transportation department and its Scenic Byways program needed an equally impressive way to promote the byways. Their solution, the department’s graphically enhanced Web site (www.idahobyways.gov ), gained national recognition recently, capturing first place at the National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop in Nashville.
The Idaho Scenic Byways site was recognized as the best Web site produced with a consultant in the annual skills contest. The Web site, activated on June 25, 2007, lists byways by three distinct regions, includes information about lengths, locations and best times of the year to travel them, links to other area attractions and contact information.
The entry form, submitted by the ITD Office of Communications, emphasized “The site is designed to promote Idaho by engaging people with Idaho's history and outdoor attractions. It is created with interaction in mind.
Colorful cast of characters to begin campaign
to promote cleaner highways, Idaho
A monarch butterfly has begun a long adventure across Idaho, visiting classrooms, county and state fairs, clubs and organizations – anyplace she will find children with receptive ears.
Betty will be accompanied by a cadre of officially christened friends as part of an ITD campaign to protect the environment and keep it clean.
Betty the Butterfly made her debut during the Eastern Idaho State Fair this summer, appearing on the pages of a 20-page coloring book.
Inspiration for the coloring book came from an International Adopt-A-Highway conference where Sherie Sweaney – ITD’s volunteer services coordinator – received training about effective anti-litter programs for young primary school students. She learned that young children respond to education and like to do “good deeds.”
Department schedules review by American Society of Engineers
Surveys are under way and a professional review of engineering services is coming soon as part of ITD’s on-going commitment to efficiency under the leadership of Director Pamela K. Lowe.
The Department has scheduled a Peer Review with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The objective of the review is to improve the management and quality of engineering services in order to better serve the public.
“Peer review is a ‘professional’ review and should not to be confused with audits or investigations,” said Assistant Chief Engineer Loren Thomas.
The Peer Review Team is an outside team of top-level engineering managers from public sector agencies who are familiar with the type of work performed by ITD and other public-sector agencies, explained Thomas.
The review will look at efficient administration, quality assurance/quality control, project monitoring, design/construction interaction, and the Department’s overall direction.
New requirements to be in effect for high-visibility clothes
Civilian clothes for anyone working in the rights-of-way on federal aid highways – whether they are ITD employees, contract workers, emergency personnel or the news media – will no longer be adequate in the rights-of-way on many of Idaho’s highways beginning next month.
A new rule, requiring the use of high-visibility safety clothing, will go into effect Nov. 24, explains Cheryl Rost, ITD’s Safety and risk Management manager. The Code of Federal Regulations, Part 634, Title 23, requires the use of high-visibility apparel and headwear, Class 2 or 3. The retro-reflective apparel must be worn on all rights-of-way of highways that receive federal aid, including interstates, U.S. highways and state highway, and some local routes.
Clothing must meet American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association 107-2004specifications. The rule will be implemented to lower the likelihood of fatalities or injuries to workers on foot in federal highway work zones.
ITD positioned well to weather economic storm
Those of you who have been part of the department very long have experienced the best of times; today, unfortunately, we’re in the midst of some of our most challenging times.
I share your concern as you watch the stock market, the status of the nation’s financial institutions and, closer to home, the economic health of state government in Idaho. As you know, Governor Otter recently asked state agencies that receive funding from the general fund to immediately reduce budgets by 1 percent and to prepare additional plans to cut 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent if such measures become necessary.
Although the transportation department is not directly affected by the holdback, we operate under the same economic conditions as general-fund agencies. We already implemented internal budget cuts based on revenue projections and are prepared to make further reductions, if conditions dictate. It is my hope, and that of the board, that additional cuts will not be necessary, that the economy will improve and revenue will rebound.
Employee, section input important components
of developing ITD Strategic Plan
How do you fit into the transportation department’s mission, vision and strategic plan?
An extensive strategic planning process that began a year ago will incorporate action items at the working level – from employeesand the sections in which they work. Leadership teams have been coordinating input that relates to the department’s four focus areas.
he foundation of ITD’s strategic planning effort is input and action at all levels of the organization. Section-level staff members are able to identify ways to improve their service, product delivery, workplace environment or operational efficiency, explains Matt Moore, Administrator of the Division of Transportation Planning.
Action items provide the “what” we plan to do, and performance measures provide the “how” we will measure our success, Moore explains.
ITD Director Pam Lowe recently challenged sections within each division and each district within the Division of Highways to outline specific actions that align with the four focus areas, “actions … that you can perform in the future that will contribute to our mission and vision.”
ITD's Cindy Smith contributes skills in pencil drawing
to national art instruction book
Cindy Smith has been drawing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she studied the art instruction books of Walter Foster Publishing. Today, Smith is professional artist whose realistic drawings are often mistaken for photographs.
“I’ve taken it a little further than a hobby,” Smith said. An understatement, indeed.
The self-taught artist not only garners awards for her artwork, including a coveted “Purchase Award” this year from the Western Idaho Fair, but just finished work on two books for the publishing company that once helped teach her to draw – Walter Foster.
“The Art of Drawing Animals” features Smith and four other artists demonstrating techniques for drawing lifelike animals. The book will go on sale internationally Nov. 1, however an autographed copy may be purchased from Smith anytime. “Baby Animals” is her solo effort for the publisher and will go on sale next July.
TRAC volunteers return to Nampa classroom
TRAC is back in the Nampa School District. Six new ITD engineers joined last year’s veteran group of volunteer engineers for training sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
The Transportation and Civil Engineering program (TRAC) is an AASHTO program designed to help engineers and teachers motivate and encourage young people to pursue careers in engineering.
“The demand for engineers at ITD continues to grow,” said Human Resources Manager Mary Harker. “These students today are our potential employees of the future.”
Training session, held Monday at Columbia High School in Nampa, offered guidance to both new and returning ITD and Nampa School District volunteers.
Last year’s educational outreach efforts at Columbia High School proved successful enough that the Nampa School District is considering how best to expand the program to Nampa High School, Sky View High School and some middle schools.
Middle school chief educational officers from the Nampa School District attended the training to observe the program, talk with TRAC volunteers and come up with a plan to eventually incorporate the program into middle school curriculums.
Sand Creek Byway beginning: An ode to perseverance
Forget the name Sand Creek Byway. The real name of the highway project should be "Perseverance," Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter told a crowd of more than 500 people gathered Thursday for the groundbreaking ceremony of the long-awaited project. The project spans more than 50 years, six decades and two centuries, but the community's perseverance has paid off with a project that will be an asset to the entire state, Otter said.
Before shovels hit the dirt, Otter delivered a keynote address in which he recounted his more than 35 years of involvement with the byway as a state senator, businessman, lieutenant governor and governor of Idaho.
Otter also praised Idahoans for the patience they have shown while waiting more than a half-century for the project to become a reality.
"Congratulations. The perseverance you've demonstrated has been awesome," he said. "We all know there are battle scars on this project ... but we have now reached a conclusion and people up and down Idaho are coming together," Crapo said.
Robinson bridge collapse sends 13 to area hospitals
The deck slab that employees of Graham Construction & Management Inc. were working on of just east of Nampa gave way at around 2:15 p.m. on Monday (Oct. 27), dropping approximately 30 feet to the ground. The incident damaged girders and sent 13 people to area hospitals with assorted non-life threatening injuries – primarily broken bones and lacerations.
Five Graham Construction workers went to St. Alphonsus in Boise, four were sent to Mercy Medical Center in Nampa and four were taken to St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Meridian.
Two days after the incident, only two remained hospitalized - one had a spinal fracture but was doing well following surgery, and the other was recovering after surgery for a broken jaw. The project superintendent had a broken ankle that will require surgery in the future, but surgeons need to wait for swelling to subside in the joint.
Former ITD engineer finds his vision for trail
around Redfish Lake drawing steadily closer
When Orion Grunerud retired from ITD as state construction engineer about three decades ago, he didn’t exactly leave the beaten path. He started designing it.
Following his retirement Grunerud and his wife Frances spent about a dozen years volunteering as camp hosts for the U.S. Forest Service’s Glacier View campground at Redfish Lake. He also spent a lot of time envisioning a handicap accessible trail that could encircle the lake, opening new vistas to people who would otherwise be unable to experience them.
His concern, according to daughter Karen, was to provide access for folks with limited mobility to visit the scenic areas and historic sites in an area Orion considered among the most beautiful in the west.
A stroke in 1992 ended their service as camp hosts, but it did not bring to close Orion’s dream of a recreational trail around Redfish. Six years later the Forest Service dedicated The Orion Grail at Outlet Campground.