The Idaho Transportation Board’s final district tour of the year on Sept. 16, 17 focused on multi-modal activities in the Wood River Valley.
Local officials provided an update on relocating the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey as part of the informational tour on Wednesday (Sept. 16). The relocation sites have been narrowed to three, with a preferred location identified along Idaho 75 in Blaine County. The draft Environmental Impact Statement should be released next June.
Mountain Rides Transportation Authority, the regional transit provider, focuses on providing commuter service between Bellevue and Ketchum/Sun Valley. Efforts are under way, however, to expand that service south to Twin Falls. A property trade is being proposed with ITD. If the city of Bellevue can secure ITD property within the city limits, the site would be used for:
The land that ITD would receive in exchange would be used for future widening of the highway.
An overview on the Idaho 75 corridor plan also was provided. The record of decision was issued for the 27-mile corridor in August 2008. Work is under way on the design and construction phases, along with identifying funding. Wetland mitigation is an integral part of the project.
Other board discussion
Last month, board vice chairman Neil Miller mentioned an experimental speed limit project under way in Utah. He asked ITD’s staff to research the project and consider developing something similar in Idaho on highways that share common characteristics – straight, good sight distance, few accesses and low average daily traffic. His intent was to determine if those segments might be good candidates for increasing existing speed limits.
ITD staff members reported, during the Thursday business meeting, that Utah and Texas allow an 80 mph speed limit on portions of the interstate system. Texas also allows a maximum speed limit of 75 mph on select two-way, two-lane highways.
The Utah Legislature authorized increased speed limits on an experimental basis. The Utah Department of Transportation is required to conduct engineering studies to determine the impacts of the new 80 mph zones and report its findings to the Legislature. Road geometry and population density were factors in determining the two test locations.
After considering the proposal, board members chose not to pursue the study in Idaho.
Local ARRA project proposal
At its March 2009 meeting, the board approved dedicating $28 million in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds to local highway jurisdictions. Since then, ITD and local jurisdictions identified $14 million in new projects or increased funding to existing ARRA projects. Those projects could be used to offset possible project delays, use statewide savings, or take advantage of additional funding during the March 2010 ARRA funding redistribution among the states.
The board approved modifying the STIP to add the recommended projects and funding increases.
Some of the new projects are commuter vans and downtown Boise bicycle facilities for the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho; pavement rehabilitation for Conkling Road in the Worley Highway District; a seal coat for Little Avenue in the Driggs; and railroad planking projects in Bonneville County on Fremont Avenue, Utah Avenue and Jameston Road.
Two local delegations met with the board, asking ITD to add their respective routes to the state highway system.
The Buhl and Wendell Highway Districts have been working with the board’s Subcommittee on State Highway System Adjustments to add the Buhl to Wendell route to the state system. A memorandum of understanding was signed in the 1990s that outlined the responsibilities of each agency and the procedures to transfer jurisdiction of the route. The local entities have completed the right-of-way acquisition process and are ready to turn the route, an extension of Idaho 46 south to U.S. 30, over to the state.
ITD is assisting the Mini-Cassia Transportation Committee in securing federal funds to reconstruct the City of Rocks Back Country Byway. The last phase to improve the 16-mile route is under construction. The local highway jurisdictions requested adding the byway to the state highway system.
The fiscal impacts to ITD of adding either of the routes to the state system have not been determined. An analysis would be required to identify annual routine maintenance costs and future facilities maintenance costs. The Buhl-to-Wendell route does not meet current standards, so improvements would be required over time.
subcommittee was asked to consider the proposals.