January 2009 highlights
Construction continued on the Snake River Bridge at Weiser
Two new special license plates now on sale
Two new special Idaho license plates, approved by the 2008 Legislature, went on sale statewide Jan. 2. Proceeds from sales of the special plates benefit programs of the Natural Resources Education Outreach Network and the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission. The plates are available at county licensing offices throughout the state.
The Natural Resources Education Outreach revenue will be used to provide classes for kindergarten through grade 12 educators to promote understanding about the mining industry and other natural resource industries. Proceeds from the other new special plate will promote programs of the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission.
Governor selects Sen. Little to serve as lieutenant governor
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed state Sen. Brad Little of Emmett to become Idaho’s new lieutenant governor. The appointment was effective immediately but is subject to confirmation by the Idaho Senate.
Little, who was elected in November to his fifth term in the Idaho Senate, succeeds Jim Risch, who resigned as lieutenant governor after being elected to the United States Senate in November. Little’s appointment was announced just one hour after Risch was sworn in as a member of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.
Findings presented to oversight committee
Representatives of the Office of Performance Evaluation presented findings from their audit of the transportation department to members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee. The comprehensive review focused on department revenue, performance measures, the need for financial, highway and bridge management systems and GARVEE funding.
The department presented a formal response, divided into six broad themes:
• Current transportation funding
• Statewide strategy for capital improvements and operations
• The department’s performance measures
• Necessary systems, processes and tools to run a more cost-effective highway program
• The department’s financial system
• GARVEE financial planning
State of the State/Budget Message
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter outlined an austere budget that reflects the declining national economy and Idaho’s constitutional mandate to operate with a balanced budget.
In addition to the reductions he requested, the governor’s budget message also included his vision for addressing the backlog of transportation needs. He recommended incremental increases in the Idaho fuel tax, vehicle registration costs and introduced the concept of a new tax on automobile rentals.
Increasing the Idaho fuel tax by 2 cents per gallon in each of the next five years would move the state fuel tax from its current 25 per gallon to 35 cents. It would be the first increase in state fuel taxes since 1996.
Series of statewide bicycle/pedestrian meetings begins
Meetings are scheduled in Lewiston and Moscow Tuesday (Jan. 27) as part of a series of bicycle and pedestrian mobility discussions in support of the ongoing statewide bicycle and pedestrian mobility survey.
Responses will help identify a preferred vision for the non-motorized mobility environment statewide, according to Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Mark McNeese. Individuals interested in impacting the future of bicycle and pedestrian mobility are invited to participate in the discussions and help formulate a local- regional- and state-level plan.
Multi-state Web site to assist travelers on I-90, I-94
A new Web site has been launched - www.i90i94travelinfo.com - to help travelers gather information about Interstates 90 and 94 between the states of Wisconsin and Washington, including a segment in northern Idaho. The multi-state Web site features:
• Live camera images at key points along the corridor
• Weather information
• Rest area locations and features
• Truck stop information
• Commercial vehicle restrictions
• Links to detailed road reports in each state
Interstates 90 and 94 function as major corridors for commercial and recreational travel. Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin are predominantly rural and face similar transportation issues related to traffic management, traveler information and commercial vehicle operations. The states have pooled their resources to develop the corridor-wide Web site, providing traveler information at one easily accessed location.
ITD helps clear way for Special Olympics athletes, families and guests
Moving 2,500 Special Olympics athletes, coaches, family, friends and spectators around the Treasure Valley and state for a week takes a monumental effort.
“It takes planning, coordination and communication among involved agencies,” says District 3 Assistant Engineer, Dave Kuisti. Partners, according to Kuisti, include:
• The Idaho Transportation Department
• The Idaho State Police
• State Communications Center
• Ada County Highway District
• Connecting Idaho Partners
• Idaho Power Co.
• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA and National Weather Service) and
• The Idaho Special Olympics
Representatives from those groups met several times since early last summer to identify the best travel routes for the Olympic athletes and to enhance communication during the event to ensure the safety of participants, their families and volunteers.
ITD presents annual report, FY 2010 request to Joint Germane committees
ITD director Pam Lowe and the department’s executive team presented the annual report and Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal to the Legislature’s House and Senate transportation committees on Jan. 22.
Each of ITD’s division administrators gave reports accompanied by a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation and video display. Presenters included:
• ITD Director Pam Lowe
• Deputy Director Scott Stokes
• Dave Tolman, Division of Administration
• John DeThomas, Division of Aeronautics
• Tom Cole, Division of Highways
• Alan Frew, Division of Motor Vehicles
• Matthew Moore, Division of Transportation Planning, and
• Randy Kyrias, Division of Public Transportation
They gave Legislators an overview of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s FY10 transportation budget request and department efficiencies, as well as a response to the recent Office of Performance Evaluation audit and a peer review by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Work progressing ahead of schedule on replacing Snake River Bridge at Weiser
District 3 first reported a few months ago on the project to replace a bridge on U.S. 95 over the Snake River in Weiser – a crossing that has been in place since the original bridge was built in 1903.
The project to replace the bridge on the U.S. 95 Spur heading into Weiser started last March. In March, a boater from Fruitland failed to safely navigate the waters, and the orange buoys and cables returned to the water as crews from Sletten Construction of Boise work on the $10 million project.