May 2009 highlights
ITD's avalanche mitigation team pore over data
ITD secures grant to enhance U of I summer program
ITD Human Resource Services Mary Harker and Michelle George secured a federal grant to assist the University of Idaho (U of I) in delivering an educational program for students interested in a transportation career.
The $58,988 award from the Federal Highway Administration National Summer Transportation Institution Program will enable the university to improve its summer JEMS (Junior Engineering, Math and Science) program.
The U of I has offered a two-week “residential” program for high school juniors and seniors the past 41 years. It provides an introduction to engineering courses for 40-60 high school juniors and seniors. The on-campus workshop is designed to impact the way high school students perceive science, math and engineering.
Supporting the U of I summer program complements the department’s efforts to help “grow” transportation employees of the future by introducing them to the array of options available.
Governor announces beginning of bid process
Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter announced that eight shovel-ready highway projects - creating 2,800 jobs and injecting $148 million into Idaho's economy - will be advertised for bid in May and June.
The projects are being funded through the federal economic stimulus program. They are:
• U.S. 2, replacement of the Dover Bridge, $38 million;
• U.S. 95, construction of passing lanes on Moscow Mountain, $4 million;
• U.S. 95, widening of highway in the White Bird Grade area, $6 million;
• I-84, replacement of the Vista Interchange, Boise, $39 million;
• U.S. 93, construction of Twin Falls Alternate Route Phase 2, $41 million;
• I-86, widening of the interstate from the Chubbuck Interchange to the Pocatello Creek Interchange, $11 million;
• U.S. 20, construction of passing lanes near Henrys Lake Flat area, $4 million; and
• Idaho 48, widening of highway from Rigby High School to the Yellowstone Highway, $5 million.
"These projects will create good jobs for Idaho's families this summer and improve the safety and quality of transportation infrastructure," Gov. Otter said. "The Transportation Department is ready to go with advertising these projects, and the people of Idaho are ready for better, safer roads and bridges."
Governor, legislators agree on $57 million compromise
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter was joined by legislative leaders from the Idaho House and Senate May 8 in applauding a $57 million compromise agreement and committing to a united path forward on addressing Idaho’s long-term transportation infrastructure needs.
The agreement provides $28 million a year in new revenue in the budget year that begins July 1 by increasing DMV administrative fees and removing the ethanol tax exemption. It provides another $29 million a year in additional new revenue beginning on July 1, 2010, by diverting the state fuel tax allocations now going to the Idaho State Police and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
As part of the agreement, the Legislature will establish a task force to determine by the 2010 legislative session whether the funding that now goes to the ISP and Parks and Recreation should be replaced with some other form of user fee.
At the same time, a task force made up of legislators and representatives appointed by the governor will tackle the challenge of modernizing Idaho’s user-pay fee structure. It will study everything from fuel tax increases and registration fees to truck fees, targeted transportation-related sales taxes and other alternatives.
PM will become core of strategic planning
A two-day workshop in Boise helped lay the foundation for ITD’s emphasis on organizational values and performance management. The sessions at District 3 included presentations by:
• Tom DeCoster, a national transportation authority who has delivered leadership training to the American Association of State Transportation and Highway Officials (AASHTO)
• Pete Rahn, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation and former director of the New Mexico Department of Transportation who introduced a new performance-based plan to the department, and
• Gordon Proctor, former director of the Ohio Department of Transportation and an expert on Performance Management principles
Performance Management is a system that lends itself well to the functions of a transportation department, explains ITD Director Pam Lowe. Implementation by other departments has created breakthrough performance improvements, Proctor adds.
It is an on-going process that translates strategic goals to relevant and detailed measures, which then are tracked to ensure uniform achievement of institutional goals.
Avalanche program reduces Idaho 21 closures
ITD’s lead avalanche forecaster Bill Nicholson released the annual avalanche report, reviewing efforts to keep Idaho 21 open through Canyon Creek. That segment – connecting Banks and Lowman – is the state’s most challenging stretch for avalanche control because it contains most of the chutes that potentially impact traffic.
According to the report, 45 avalanches reached the highway between Banner Summit and Grandjean this year. However, the road was closed to traffic for only about 21 days.
ITD 'full-court press' helps new Canyon County office open on time
All of the details for consolidating and relocating vehicle and driver's licensing services in Canyon County were complete before the April 27 opening of the new Canyon County DMV office.
Less than a week before moving to the new location on Graye Lane north of Cleveland Boulevard, ITD’s Enterprise Technology Services network staff discovered a potential setback. The network lines to the new office’s Division of Motor Vehicles terminals were routed through a county-owned network designed primarily for telephone service. The data lines that had been installed for providing DMV services could not have handled the capacity, explains DMV Administrator Alan Frew. The “full-court press” was on.
Information technology staff, led by Kathryn Romano of ETS and Richard Holloran of DMV Administrative Services met with network staff to evaluate alternatives and identify a solution. That set in motion a scramble to install a new T-1 data circuit at that location and to rewire the new facility at a cost of about $5,000.
Idaho among leaders in advancing projects to bid
Idaho has secured almost 78 percent of its federal transportation stimulus funding, second only to Oklahoma and well ahead of the national average of 37 percent.
States must meet federal requirements to qualify for stimulus funding, one of which requires having 50 percent of funds obligated to construction projects by July 1. Idaho has obligated $148 million of the $182 million it qualifies to receive in stimulus funding.
Seven Idaho projects were advertised for bids in early May. The eighth project – the Twin Falls Alternate Route Phase 2 – will be advertised in mid-June. Contractors’ bids typically are opened 30 days after a project is advertised.
The transportation stimulus projects are predicted to create 2,800 jobs.
ITD introduces video element to Web site
Navigating ITD’s Web site can be somewhat tricky for the average Internet user, especially with such diverse topics as DMV, Aeronautics, 511 and highway project information all in one place.
To help guide the way, ITD has added a new feature to its home page – ITD In Motion. Hosted by public information specialist June Sparks, the short video explains ITD’s Web site in simple terms, literally pointing out where to go for important resources.
The video clip is prominently located in the upper right-hand corner of the Web site, itd.idaho.gov