ITD staff members provided the transportation board a report on innovative practices used as part of the GARVEE Program that possibly could benefit the Division of Highways. The board met Jan. 20, 21 in Boise.
The GARVEE report included federal and state process that could be streamlined and expedited.
A workshop provided an opportunity for board and staff members to consider accelerated construction techniques. The focus was to minimize construction time and cost by accelerating construction and reducing work zone congestion.
Among the workshop topics was implementation of innovative contracting. The technique includes phasing construction and discipline-specific contracts that promoted competition and lower bids; utilizing precast and pre-fabricated components, and pre-purchasing some materials, such as piling and girders, which expedited delivery of the project and eliminated some common delays.
Another experimental project related to right-of-way acquisition. Property owners were offered incentive payments to accept an offer early in the negotiation process. This reduced overhead costs and encouraged prompt negotiations, which can be time-consuming.
The GARVEE Office is working with the Division of Highways to incorporate some of these innovations into its regular processes.
Other board discussion
Annual Report from the Division of Aeronautics
Use of the King Air and revenue from the state-owned plane increased in 2009. Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 destinations. The Governor’s Office used the air pool services the most, followed by ITD and the Department of Commerce.
A new restroom and shower facility was constructed in 2009 at the Cavanaugh Bay Airstrip. The northern Idaho facility is a popular recreation destination. A shelter also was added at the Stanley Airport for passengers who wait for transportation.
The Adopt-an-Airport program continues to grow in popularity and success. In 2009, 15 airports were adopted. Volunteers reported 657 labor hours, a 14 percent increase from the previous year.
The recession continued to impact the aviation industry – fuel sales were approximately 30 percent less in 2009 than 2008. Non-scheduled commercial flights, corporate air travel and passenger enplanements at Idaho’s commercial airports also were down from the previous year. The decrease in those activities has a ripple effect and impacts fixed base operators and other services, as well as the Division of Aeronautics budget.
Revenue from aviation fuels was $157,000 less than projected through November. Holdbacks in the division have been identified.
Adjustments to the State Highway System
Administrative Policy (A-09-06) outlines criteria used to rate roads to determine if they should be added or removed from the state highway system. Some of those factors include whether the route is used for local traffic or through traffic (statewide); whether a route parallels a state highway (although major geographical barriers such as rivers are taken into consideration); the average daily traffic count; economics and safety.
A rating of 70 is required before a staff member recommends addition of a road to the state highway system. A rating below 30 over a three-year period is required for a recommendation to remove a state highway, unless a local highway jurisdiction wants to assume it.
That background on adding or removing routes laid the foundation for two other board agenda items.
ITD has been working with Cassia County about a request for the Elba-Almo highway, also known as the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway. Federal discretionary funds were secured to reconstruct the 16-mile road. The final phase was completed last fall with the exception of the seal coat. The road provides access to the City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rock State Park.
A previous director indicated that staff would recommend addition of the road to the state highway system after required improvements were made. Recent discussions with Cassia County resulted in a proposal that ITD assume the road and provide sand and salt if local jurisdictions take care of winter maintenance.
Board members expressed concern because the route has a rating of 62, while the policy indicates a minimal rating of 70; they also were concerned about a commitment by a previous ITD official. Nevertheless, board members approved the resolution and directed ITD staff to proceed with the addition of the City of Rocks Back Country Byway to the state highway system as a spur to Idaho 77.
District 4 also has been working on another system adjustment – extending Idaho 46 to Buhl. A state-local agreement in 1997 identified the steps needed to transfer the Buhl-Wendell highway to the state. The primary commitment of the local entities was to secure right-of-way, which has been completed. According to ITD staff, the route functions as a state highway and has a rating of 89.
District Engineer Devin Rigby presented three options:
An additional employee and a truck would be needed under option 3. On a short-term basis, some equipment could be reassigned to the road, Rigby said, and a part-time employee could be hired. Concern was expressed about the condition of the highway. Approximately four miles of the 16-mile route have been improved and meet current state standards. Improving the remainder of the highway is estimated to cost about $14.5 million.
This request was referred to the board’s Subcommittee on Adjustments to the State Highway System for further consideration.