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Response to prioritizing maintenance activities
I agree with you completely. This is the same message the governor and ITD have been presenting to the public and the legislature for the past year – our system is deteriorating and the funding we have available is inadequate to preserve our system. As part of that presentation, we have emphasized that our priority is Operation, Preservation, Restoration and Expansion (OPRE) in that order. If we would receive additional revenue, our intent would be for the first priority for those funds to go to operations in order to keep up with maintenance repair issues.
The legislative OPE Audit and the ASCE Peer review both identified that ITD needs additional funds for operations. We are still unsure of when we will obtain meaningful additional revenues to help us preserve what we already have. One area that was identified in the audit and review that the legislature did fund was management systems, including a new maintenance management system. With the new system in place, we will be better able to track and account for the current use of our funds and predict the consequences of more, less or the same funding in the future.
The Division of Highways is also implementing the use of “business plans” for all districts and sections. The plans will allow the districts/sections to develop a plan for the use of the funds they have available to them and report back to all (both internal and external) what our accomplishments are.
The bottom line is that we are, as always, going to do everything we can with the resources we have to keep the highway system in the best shape we can. Sometimes our employees amaze me at what they can think of that will save us time and money. I think the new MMS and business plans will assist us in reporting to others what we can and can’t do with the funds available.
Tom E. Cole, LS/PE
Chief Engineer - Idaho Transportation Department