Board to consider funding for three scenic byway projects
A request of more than $800,000 for scenic byway projects will go to the Idaho Transportation Board for consideration when the board meets in Boise next week. The regular business meeting will begin Wednesday afternoon and conclude late Thursday morning.
Byway funds are provided by the federal Scenic Byway Discretionary program on a nationally competitive basis for routes that have been designated as a state scenic, historic or backcountry byway or as an All American Road or National Scenic Byway.
Scenic Byway funds are announced and awarded at the federal level and require a 20-percent local match. Projects recommended for funding this year include:
Statewide Byway videos: Production of video products for Idaho’s Scenic Byways Web site. The video productions would be streamed over the Internet to visually promote the unique attractions, recreation, activities, sights and unique outdoor sport opportunities found on Idaho’s extensive byway system.
Thousand Springs Scenic Byway wildlife viewing area: The viewing area would provide visitors the opportunity to view and photograph many species of migratory birds in their natural habitat. It would include ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible pathways with viewpoints and interpretive signs to describe the different species and to provide information about the adjacent fish hatcheries.
Oneida Stake Academy Pioneer Historic Byway Welcome Center: The center would provide restrooms and information services 12 hours a day, and interpretive displays defining most of the byway’s intrinsic qualities. It also would house a museum of local history, such as the Bear River Massacre and pioneer settlement of southeastern Idaho.
Other board discussion
Over the five-year period from 2003 to 2007, there were 133,947 reportable crashes in Idaho, with 1,347 fatalities in Idaho. Two hundred forty-seven of those fatalities occurred at intersections.
ITD district staff are responsible for proposing intersection safety projects. Data is used as a starting point to investigate possible safety locations, and more detailed safety analysis helps determine the extent of the problem and possible solutions.
Updates of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program provide opportunities to add rural intersection improvement projects. A target of 35 percent of the safety funds has been established for intersection improvements. Those projects, however, will continue to compete with other safety projects such as road departures, durable pavement markings, and retro-reflective upgrades for signs.
In 2007, “run-off-the road” crashes resulted in 158 fatalities, while 49 fatalities occurred at intersections.
Employee compensation, recruitment, and training and development are among the topics that Human Resource Services will cover in its annual report. Following are some notable statistics from HRS:
The department’s total vacancy rate from the start of the current fiscal year through January was 5.4 percent, which is close to the average of the two previous years of 6 percent.
The vacancy rate for the engineer series is 8.8 percent, compared to the two previous years’ average of 17 percent.
The total turnover rate for this fiscal year to date is 4.5 percent. The previous couple of years, the turnover rate averaged 9.7 percent.
The top five categories that are “under-represented” are female professionals, female technicians, minority male technicians, female skilled craft workers and minority male skilled craft workers.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Office will report on external program activities. The department’s five-year Title VI Plan has been revised. It now includes sections on Federal Transit Administration (FTA) activities and monitoring local public agencies. Efforts continue on the transition plan for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEO office reported working with 159 businesses in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program as of Sept. 30, 2008.
The Employee Safety and Risk Management Program’s objectives also will be summarized for board members.
The emphasis is on preventing employee injuries and equipment damage through education, identifying hazardous work sites and practices, and investigating tort claims. The office reported 122 industrial injuries and/or illnesses during fiscal year 2008. That compares to a five-year average of 113. A total of 219 vehicle collisions were reported during the fiscal year, which is higher than the five-year average of 155.