The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a new stimulus bill that would provide additional funds for transportation projects – if it gains Senate approval and the President’s signature. The Senate is expected to consider the legislation soon.
ITD staff will present a report and possible options to the Idaho Transportation Bard when it assembles for the first monthly business meeting of the year Thursday in Boise. The meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 8:30 a.m. A daylong workshop will precede the business meeting on Wednesday.
The 2010 stimulus bill is very similar to the Congress-approved American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that allocated $27.5 billion nationally and approximately $180 million to Idaho. The bill also provided $6.5 billion for transit projects ($18.4 million for Idaho) and a sub-allocation for Transportation Management Areas, Enhancement, and Rural/Urban population areas.
The stimulus program required that funds be targeted to economically distressed areas and that “shovel-ready” projects be completed within three years.
One of the major differences between the stimulus program being considered in Congress and the one approved last year is that 50 percent of the funds must be under contract within 90 days of apportionment or they will risk loss of funding.
The other 50 percent needs to be under contract within a year of the apportionment. The required time frame might prove challenging because the average time from advertising to award historically is 92 days for highway projects. The FY09 stimulus delivery period was 120 days to obligation.
ITD staff will provide the transportation board with a list of projects to consider for funding, most of which are for highway preservation. As part of the ITD proposal, 12.6 percent of the funds would be distributed to local jurisdictions, as was done with the 2009 allocation.
New funding would require an amendment to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to ensure that at least half of the projects will be ready within the first 90 days. It also will require the department to conform to any other funding and project delivery requirements and that the transportation board review and approve STIP amendments when and if Congress approves the new stimulus law.
Other major agenda items
Progress report on safety and the Strategic Highway Safety Plan
The number of traffic deaths dropped from 252 in 2007 to 232 in 2008, an 8 percent decline. The level of exposure, as determined by annual million vehicle miles traveled, decreased by 3.5 percent. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.52 in 2008, the lowest on record, and down from 1.59 in 2007.
The preliminary number of fatalities for 2009 probably will be even lower; however, the official number will not be available until March. The Strategic Highway Safety Plan goal is to reduce traffic deaths in Idaho to 200 or fewer by 2012.
District 4 had the most fatalities per 100,000 residents for the five-year period, of 2004-2008.
ITD assigns traffic fatalities into 10 focus areas. District 4 had the most deaths in seven of those categories:
District 2 had the most fatalities in the other three categories:
District 3 had the fewest fatalities per 100,000 population.
ITD owns five houses, three bunkhouse and two apartments at Johnson Creek Airstrip and Cavanaugh Bay Airstrip that are available for seasonal use. Another 30 trailer pads – 10 with manufactured houses – also are available for employee use. The report indicates 13 of ITD’s housing units scattered throughout the state are vacant.
Department policy requires that ITD provide or rent state-owned dwellings to employees when the department’s interests are best served. In a few instances, use of state-owned housing is a condition of employment. They include Reeds Bar and Powell maintenance facilities in District 2, the Riddle facility in District 3, and the Johnson Creek Airport. Employees who live in that housing do not pay rent.
ITD also owns nine trailer pads and three houses at rest areas around the state. Rest area maintenance contracts require the contractor to be available for daily conferences and on call for emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Providing the state-owned dwellings is part of the consideration of the maintenance contract.