July 2009 highlights
Students visit the Idaho Air National Guard facility at Gowan Field
Students learn aviation from the ground up
Youths from throughout Idaho and one from Singapore had an opportunity to explore aviation from the ground up… and from the clouds down this week during the annual Aviation Career Exploration (ACE) Academy in Boise.
The annual four-day camp enables junior high and high school youths a chance to talk with aviation experts and experience various facets of flight, beginning with a demonstration burn to a tour of the Warhawk Air Museum.
The 2009 ACE academy attracted 20 students, most of whom are from the Treasure Valley. Participants also came from Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, Post Falls, Dubois, and Singapore. The latter comes by way of the Mountain Home Air Force Base where his father is stationed.
Stimulus funds provide jobs, help for D-1
District 1 is reaping unexpected benefits from a summer youth employment program sponsored by the Idaho Department of Labor. The program was made possible through the federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The districts hired 12 program members and another from the Working Adult program. Participants are paid $7.75 an hour by the Department of Labor. The department also is providing needed work supplies like boots or work clothes. District 1 provides the supervision and opportunity for the young people to understand the importance of punctuality, showing initiative, developing relationships, completing tasks and other traits important to success.
It is estimated the program will save the district nearly $97,000 in additional hourly costs, while providing an opportunity for youths to learn valuable work skills, according to District 1 Engineer Damon Allen.
ITD begins trial use of Twitter
The emerging world of social media is opening new opportunities for government agencies to send important information directly and efficiently to the public. For ITD, notices of road closures, lane restrictions and construction zones are at the forefront of its decision to launch a pilot program using Twitter, the social networking and messaging medium that sends and receives instant 140-character messages via the Twitter Web site or by way of web-capable cellular phones.
Initially, ITD will test the advantages of Twitter by notifying users of construction information on I-84 in the Treasure Valley. If the pilot program proves successful, ITD will consider posting "tweets" about additional construction projects in the state.
A Twitter icon is posted on ITD's home page at itd.idaho.gov, or you can begin following ITD on Twitter by going to https://twitter.com/IdahoITD. The service is free over the Internet.
Also on ITD's home page is a new feature called In Motion hosted by public information specialist, June Sparks. The minute episodes involve topics such as how to find your way around the ITD Web site, a scenic look at Idaho's backcountry airstrips, and important safety messages such as driving through work zones.
ITD's Mary Harker spearheads production of 'tool kit'
The daunting tasks facing corporate human resource directors throughout the country are just as common among transportation departments. With the projected workforce shortage and the challenges transportation departments face to be competitive with private sector, how do they recruit the best candidates, retain them and plan for future resource needs?
Human resource managers in the transportation industry have been asking those questions for several years, explains ITD Human Resource Manager Mary Harker. And within those departments, managers in maintenance, construction, engineering and other professions ask the same questions via NCHRP Research Projects.
It made sense, Harker reasoned, to produce and distribute a comprehensive tool kit that addresses the common concerns among transportation departments.
Harker is chairperson of AASHTO’s (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) subcommittee on Human Resources (ASHR), a position she’s held since 2007. She presented the tool kit concept to the Transportation Research Board for consideration under its National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP).
Boise drivers rank 9th nationally for lowest crash rates
Auto body repair shops in the Boise area apparently rely less on repeat customers than new ones – or so suggests a report issued this week by Allstate Insurance Company of Northbrook, Ill.
“Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report” indicates that Boise car owners average about 11.8 years between collisions, which ranks them ninth, along with Colorado Springs, Colo., in the nation’s top 10. It was the first appearance for Boise in the top 10. Eugene, Ore., also entered the top 10 for the first time, ranking just ahead of Boise and Colorado Springs with 11.9 years between collisions.
The safest drivers, judging from the Allstate report, are in Sioux Falls, S.D., where they average 13.5 years between collisions and are 26.1 percent less likely to have a crash when compared with the national average. Other cities in the top 10 include Fort Collins, Colo.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Knoxville, Tenn.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Lexington-Fayette, Ky.
Board announces Lowe's departure; Stokes named Acting director
Pamela Lowe will no longer serve as director of the Idaho Transportation Department effective July 31, the Idaho Transportation Board announced. Lowe has been director since 2007.
The transportation board Thursday named Deputy Director L. Scott Stokes as acting director while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement. Stokes started with the department in 1992 and served as deputy director since 2007.
The transportation department director is hired by the transportation board and serves at its pleasure. The director is responsible for the operation of the department and carrying out transportation board policies. Manning expressed confidence in ITD’s employees and their commitment to serve the citizens of Idaho.
Governor leads groundbreaking
Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter will led a groundbreaking ceremony July 22 in Dover for the long-awaited replacement of a dangerous bridge - a project that will create jobs, stimulate economic activity and improve motorist safety.
Popular Mechanics and The History Channel consider the 72-year-old Dover Bridge one of the worst in America. The bridge on U.S. 2 has a sufficiency rating of 3 on a scale of 100 and is a safety risk and a commercial bottleneck on one of the major east-west routes in northern Idaho.
The narrow, restricted bridge over railroad tracks will be replaced with a five-lane structure, 72-feet wide, and 1,200 feet long. The $21.6 million project is funded with federal stimulus money and is projected to sustain or create approximately 400 jobs. Popular Mechanics listed the bridge as one of the 10 worst examples of the country's deteriorating structures in the magazine's May 2008 edition .
Log cabin navigates twists, turns of Idaho 55
A red log cabin moved from its home in Horseshoe Bend to Smiths Ferry during the wee midweek hours. The cabin was donated to Chapel of the Pines church to serve in their ministry.
The entire 33-mile operation was slated to run until 6 a.m. Wednesday, but was actually completed four hours earlier because of ideal travel and traffic conditions. The move was accomplished in two steps - first crews loaded the cabin onto a flatbed (the house was loaded in two pieces; the roof was detachable) and traveled a few miles to the port of entry site on the edge of town. Then, at midnight another ITD crew accompanied it from their north up to Smiths Ferry.
It nearly took as long to load the house - about an hour and a half - as to transport it.
Gov. Otter speaks at initial meeting
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter delivered opening remarks, setting the agenda for the first meeting of his Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding in Idaho at 9 a.m. on Aug. 6, in the Joe R. Williams Building in Boise.
The governor’s task force will examine and recommend traditional and non-traditional ways Idaho can fund the maintenance and preservation of highways and bridges now and in the future. The Idaho Legislature passed a concurrent resolution earlier this year supporting a task force, and Governor Otter created it in June through Executive Order 2009-11. http://bit.ly/19I4aB
The task force will meet over 18 months and make recommendations throughout the process to the governor, with a final report due no later than Dec. 1, 2010. The governor said he would welcome the task force’s findings and recommendations as soon as they are ready.
The task force is chaired by Lt. Gov. Brad Little. It includes five members each from the Idaho House and Senate, four citizens and two members of the Idaho Transportation Board.
Ceremony to launch I-84/Vista Interchange project
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter will led a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 5 to start construction of a new Interstate 84 Vista Interchange. This is one of eight stimulus projects throughout the state designed to create jobs, stimulate economic activity, improve motorist safety and reduce congestion.
Central Paving Inc. of Boise is the contractor on the project. Construction is expected to be complete by September 2010. The $17.8 million project will be funded with federal stimulus money and is estimated to sustain or create approximately 320 jobs. The Vista Interchange is a primary access to the Boise airport, downtown Boise and Boise State University.
Joining the governor were Idaho Senate Transportation Committee Chair John McGee, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Boise Airport Director Richard McConnell. The new interchange will be the first in Idaho to use a “single point urban” design. The design has a single traffic light at the center of the interchange to allow a more continuous, efficient flow of traffic
Board directs stimulus savings to U.S. 95 project
A two-lane, two-mile bottleneck on U.S. 95 north of Hayden will be expanded using $15.8 million in federal stimulus savings.
The project will widen a two-lane section of U.S. 95, between Wyoming Avenue and the Idaho 53 junction to connect with four-lane segments on both sides. Widening the small segment of highway will create four continuous lanes from Coeur d'Alene to north of Garwood when construction is completed.
State Rep. Frank Henderson (R-Post Falls) agrees.
The state anticipates saving $33 million on the eight major federal transportation stimulus projects bid by contractors. Transportation department officials credit an increase in the number of contractors bidding projects for the savings. The transportation board decided to wait until bids on the U.S. 93 Twin Falls Alternate Route project is open this month to decide which projects to fund with remaining stimulus savings.