March 2009 highlights
ITD's new data collection van displayed for board members
Board forwards stimulus recommendations
The Idaho Transportation Board forwarded recommendations to the governor’s office for the use of more than $200 million in federal stimulus funds.
One resolution identifies eight highway construction projects on the state system along with a list of local (city, county and highway districts) improvements. Combined, they represent about $182 million of the funds Idaho anticipates receiving as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Congress approved the act and President Obama signed it into law on Feb. 17.
If approved by the governor and Idaho Legislature, ITD’s projects would total $150 million for the following construction projects:
• U.S. 2, Dover Bridge replacement and approaches, $36.8 million
• U.S. 95, Moscow Mountain passing lane and highway widening, $3.9 million
• U.S. 95, Top of White Bird Grade, widening and construction of a chain-up area, $5.2 million
• Interstate 84, Vista Avenue Interchange, reconstruction/realignment, $43.4 million
• U.S. 93, Twin Falls Alternate Route, relocation, $40.3 million
• I-86, Chubbuck Interchange to Pocatello Creek Interchange, major widening, $11.2 million
• U.S. 20, Henrys Lake Flat passing lanes, widening, $3.5 million
• Idaho 48, Rigby High School to Yellowstone Highway, major widening, $5.4 million
Governor recommends plan to spend stimulus funds
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter issued his recommendations this week for how to use $1,240,062,000 in federal stimulus funding being made available to Idaho by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The recommendations include allocating $408,770,000 for health and welfare programs; $260,468,980 for public schools; $36,078,300 for higher education; $159,978,000 for unemployment benefits and workforce development; $61,894,000 for environmental quality projects; $200,334,100 for transportation; $15,268,000 for public housing, low-income housing and homelessness prevention; and $97,270,700 for other state government programs.
The Governor’s recommendations are based on seven basic criteria:
• Create and protect jobs in all regions of the state
• Provide for quality education of Idaho’s school-aged children
• Provide temporary relief for Idahoans directly impacted by the global recession
• Minimize ongoing costs to taxpayers in the current year as well as future years
• Do not use the funds to create new state programs
• Do not use the funds to expand the size of state government
• Delay use of rainy day funds as a hedge against continued declines in state revenue
Gov. Otter outlines plans for audit compliance
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued an executive order detailing how ITD will comply over the next three years with the major findings of a recent audit of its operations by the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations.
Among other things, Executive Order 2009-08 requires ITD to publish an “Annual Accountability Report” by January 1 of each year, and to submit quarterly status updates on its progress toward implementing the OPE audit recommendations.
Gov. Otter also delivered a letter to every member of the Legislature thanking them for their “leadership and continued help in restoring public confidence by making ITD as accountable, efficient and effective as possible.”
Data collection van to help pavement management
ITD rolled out a new tool that will significantly enhance its ability to monitor highway conditions and target pavement management improvements.
A data collection van, unveiled for members of the Idaho Transportation Board during their monthly meeting in Boise, uses the latest technology to record and process data from Idaho’s 5,000 centerline miles of highway. It will provide more accurate information than the seven-year-old vehicle it replaces, explains Glenda Fuller, ITD Roadway Data Manager.
The retired 2002 data collection van has traveled more than 245,000 miles on Idaho highways. Many of its components are outdated and cannot be replaced or repaired, Fuller said. Its successor is a mobile technology center that contains twin high-definition video cameras mounted under an extended roof that provide images of the right shoulder and straight-ahead views.
ITD pilots fly nation's chief justice to Moscow
Pilots from ITD’s Division of Aeronautics often are called on to shuttle state officials throughout Idaho, but a trip last week involved transporting the nation’s top legal official from the Treasure Valley to the Palouse.
Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. presented the University of Idaho’s 13th annual Sherman J. Bellwood Memorial Lecture March 13 at the U of I’s Student Union Building Ballroom.
Aeronautics Division Administrator JV DeThomas and Flight Operations Director, Mike Pape flew Justice Roberts, U of I College of Law officials Don Burnett and Richard H. Seamon, and a security detail from Boise Air Terminal to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport March 12 in advance of the event.
Use of 511 system grows by nearly 40 percent in 2008-09
Idaho residents statewide used the 511 Traveler Service program nearly 40 percent more the past winter driving season than ever before. More than 2.1 million inquiries were recorded on the system that includes high- and low-bandwidth Web capabilities, and a phone system. New this year is a mobile Web site for Internet-enabled handheld devices, such as smart phones and PDAs.
“I attribute the great success to a team effort,” said ITD 511 system manager Alison Lantz. “It starts with the maintenance crews in the districts providing scheduled road condition reports twice daily on week days, once a day on weekends and holidays and as conditions change, seven days a week from November to April. They do an excellent job.”
The dedicated staff at the 24/7 State Communications Center in Meridian, along with staff in some districts, then take the road condition reports and enter the data and information about road closures, crashes and road conditions into the 511 system.
JFAC approves ITD's budget, authorizes bond
The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee Wednesday approved ITD’s Fiscal Year 2010 funding request, authorized the sale of additional GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds and approved a supplemental budget that clears the way for using federal stimulus funds.
JFAC is responsible for setting the budgets of state agencies and forwarding the requests to the full House and Senate. ITD’s funding measures come with a “do-pass” recommendation. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter also must sign the legislation into law.
If it clears the full Legislature and gains the governor’s approval, ITD’s appropriation for the coming fiscal year will be $508.6 million. It reflects a 5 percent reduction in personnel costs that JFAC implemented earlier.
ITD’s appropriation for FY 2010 includes the following:
• $22.3 million for the Division of Administration
• $5.4 million, Division of Planning
• $19.3 million, Division of Motor Vehicles
• $153.8 million, Division of Highways
• $2.9 million, Capital Facilities
• $290.7 million, Contract Construction
• $3.3 million, Division of Aeronautics
• $10.2 million, Division of Public Transportation
JFAC voted 14-6 to authorize the sale of $82 million in GARVEE bonds for the coming fiscal year. ITD had requested authorization to sell $125 million in bonds, but legislators reduced the amount because a major project – the Interstate 84 interchange at Vista Avenue in Boise – also was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Practical Design savings estimated to exceed $70 million by 2012
Savings achieved through implementation of a new highway design standard by ITD are nearly five times greater than initially expected, reaching $27.2 million in just the first year of the program, ITD announced.
Adoption of the Practical Design management approach initially was expected to produce savings of about $5.6 million in state fiscal year 2008, explains ITD Director Pamela Lowe. That projection was revised to $18.4 million in December.
Based on contractor’s bids, the net savings is $27.2 million, Lowe said.
From fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2012, the department anticipates saving more than $70 million, an increase of $20 million over its original estimate, by implementing the practical design program.