June 2009 highlights
Dignitaries gather to kickoff construction of the Ten Mile / I-84 interchange
Airport kiosk to help explain I-84 changes
With as many as six major highway construction projects expected to be under way on Interstate 84 by late summer/early fall, getting the word out to motorists about traffic impacts is crucial to maintain public safety. That’s why ITD partnered with the Boise Municipal Airport to design and build a video kiosk that informs travelers of what to expect along the busy corridor … and when.
“The Boise Airport is an ideal location for this resource kiosk,” said Airport Director Richard McConnell. “An estimated 342,000 people who pass through the airport monthly will be directly impacted by interstate construction, so informing our traveling public is critical.”
The kiosk, located on the airport’s ground level near baggage claim, features animated graphics depicting how to best maneuver the new Vista Avenue Interchange once completed. The interchange includes a new design for Idaho called the Single Point Urban Interchange. One lighted panel at the center of the 12-lane interchange will control all traffic. The kiosk also will have information about every highway project along I-84 as well as estimated construction schedules.
Volunteers remove winter leftovers from backcountry airstrip
A small army of volunteers descended on the Magee Airstrip east of Coeur d’Alene recently to remove residuals of a long winter and a noncompliant nearby creek.
Early inspections showed more winter leftovers at the backcountry airstrip than usual because of a long, hard winter and a creek that escaped its banks, explained airport manager Gary McElheney. The popular grass airstrip needed some additional help. That’s where members of a local Boy Scout troop stepped in. About 18 Scouts and their supervisors joined 16 pilots and friends to remove rocks, stream debris and other material that littered the airstrip.
Collectively, they devoted about 219 person-hours of cleanup – or nearly half of the hours logged at all of the state’s adopted airstrips combined in 2008, McElheney said. Many of the volunteers endured a two-hour drive from Coeur d’Alene to reach the airstrip Friday night (May 22). They devoted all of the following day to spring cleaning.
Installation of new phone system bringing changes
Telephone connections between the districts and Headquarters will change with introduction of a new phone system, explains Dave Merriweather of the Enterprise Technology Services Project Management Office.
The new VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol) recently was installed in District 4; other districts will follow, explains Merriwether. The new system will reduce long-distance costs by using the ITD network rather than conventional phone services. It also replaces an obsolete and aging PBX system and brings new functionality not available with the old system.
Headquarters employees who want to contact counterparts in D-4 will first dial 4 and then the individual’s four-digit extension; for example, to reach the district office HQ callers would dial 47800. As districts are converted to VoIP, Headquarters will become “7” and all calls from the district will begin with 7 and be followed by the four-digit Headquarters extension, such as 78000 for the main number.
$8.7 million in stimulus funds awarded for public transportation
Idahoans will have improved access to public transportation and increased mobility because of 21 projects receiving federal stimulus funding. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter approved more than $8.7 million in federal stimulus funding to put more Idahoans to work and improve transportation options. The public transportation projects are calculated to generate or preserve approximately 155 jobs.
Statewide, projects range from improving bus service and replacing old public transportation vehicles to building shelters at public transportation sites and constructing bike and pedestrian paths.
ITD pilots connect dots, passengers
Six cities, 13 takeoffs and landings, 1,911 miles, 19 passengers and five pilots.
ITD’s Division of Aeronautics spent Tuesday connecting the dots – and passengers with their destinations – in perhaps one of the busiest days ever for the state’s twin-engine turboprop King Air. Between its initial 7:42 a.m. departure and its final arrival in Boise at 10:36 p.m. the plane and pilots touched down in Coeur d’Alene, McCall, Lewiston, Spokane and Pullman, Wash.
Passengers almost could see themselves coming while going.
“We used up five pilots and tons of gas, but managed to get everyone where they wanted to go, on time,” said JV DeThomas, administrator of the Aeronautics Division.
He and fellow pilots Gene Bannister, Frank Lester, Mike Pape and Mike Haplin provided air service for a diverse clientele. The group included Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and his Chief of Staff Jason Kreizenbeck and transportation board members Darrell Manning, Bruce Sweeney and Jim Coleman. ITD administrators Scott Stokes, Tom Cole and Randy Kyrias also took advantage of service to northern Idaho and Washington.
Groups discuss how to replace remote bridge
It’s a small bridge with an important role and a large following.
Tucked between towering peaks south of Yellow Pine, the single-lane bridge that provides access to the Johnson Creek backcountry airstrip was put into place 50 years ago, the product of a diverse group of volunteers.
Groups with equally diverse interests now are assessing the best way to replace the bridge while maintaining river flow, fish movement and vehicle traffic to the popular airstrip.
About 15 people met at the bridge recently to discuss alternatives and challenges in replacing the structure that was created from salvaged railcar girders. A steel plate girder bridge or prefabricated truss bridge are among the replacement options.
Installation will be scheduled around peak stream flow and fish movement and take place during the summer. The bridge, listed as structurally deficient, is programmed for replacement in 2013, explains Erika Bowen, of ITD’s Bridge Section. Construction could start earlier if funds become available.
Governor announces members of transportation task force
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter Tuesday named a 15-member task force of legislators and private individuals – led by Lieutenant Governor Brad Little – to consider how best to modernize the user-pay fee system for financing maintenance and improvements to Idaho’s roads and bridges.
The announcement came as the governor helped break ground on the $33.8 million, GARVEE-funded Ten Mile Interchange on Interstate 84 in Meridian. The governor’s transportation task force was established by Executive Order No. 2009-11. It was a provision of a session-ending agreement with legislative leaders on continuing efforts to address a backlog of road and bridge maintenance, repairs and needed improvements that has grown to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
The governor’s task force will start meeting in early August. Its meetings will be open to the public. Its goal will be developing recommendations by December 2010 for sustainable road and bridge funding for the next 20 years. Task force members will study everything from fuel tax increases and registration fees to truck fees, targeted transportation-related sales taxes and other alternatives.
Historic Oregon Trail route added to back country system
The Idaho Transportation Board approved the addition of another historic route to Idaho’s backcountry byway system. The Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway will focus attention on an Idaho segment of the Oregon Trail that led to settlement of the Northwest.
The Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway is a 102-mile route that begins at Three Island Crossing State Park in Glenns Ferry and travels northwesterly along a route that parallels the Old Oregon Trail. It ends north of I-84 by the Blacks Creek Interchange east of Boise.
The proposal indicated that some of the finest remnants of the Oregon Trail within Idaho lie along the newly designated backcountry byway. A number of historically significant sites and locations still offer history lessons for the curious – travelers can view or hike the ruts that remain visible after more than 150 years.
Numerous points of interest lie along the route. In addition to the actual trail ruts, there are historical museums and interpretive centers to enhance the learning experience of travelers. The proposal received extensive support, including from ITD’s Districts 3 and 4.
Governor, dignitaries break ground for new interchange
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter joined business and government leaders and citizens June 23 to formally launch a construction project that will create more than 600 jobs and add a new gateway into Meridian.
More than 200 people participated in a groundbreaking ceremony that signals the beginning of construction on the new Ten Mile Interchange over Interstate 84. Targeted for completion in 2011, the interchange will be the first new one built in the Treasure Valley since 2006. Idaho Sand & Gravel Co. submitted the winning construction bid of $33.8 million.
Meridian Mayor Tammy De Weerd said the interchange will provide a much-needed third access from I-84 into the rapidly growing city and will provide relief for the heavily congested Meridian Road interchange.
Women engineers explain passion for profession
The recipe for making good asphalt works just as well for tasty cookies, with a few substitutions. ITD engineers Monica Crider and Jayme Coonce demonstrated how asphalt is made by helping young women, grades 9-10, make cookies during the fifth annual e-Girls workshop at Boise State University.
Instead of typical aggregates – crushed rock, sand and limestone dust or cement – the young women worked with chopped walnuts, coconut and two kinds of oats. For tar, the group used melted chocolate. “Making ‘Asphalt cookies’ parallels how real plant mix is made – four different aggregate sizes evenly mixed, bound together with sticky asphalt and then compacted to lock the aggregates tight and provide a solid surface,” said Coonce, District 3 region 2 construction engineer.
The e-Girls workshop is a two-day, summer program that explores engineering and computer science careers; it is designed for young women who will be high school sophomores and juniors in the fall.