Highway system grows by 15 miles after board decision

District 4 maintenance crews will have approximately 15 more miles of highway to maintain, starting this winter.

The Idaho Transportation Board’s Subcommittee on Adjustments to the State Highway System has been negotiating with local highway jurisdictions to transfer the Buhl-Wendell Highway to the state highway system. Those efforts reached fruition last week when the board signed a cooperative agreement and approved the extension of Idaho 46 from Wendell to U.S. 30 in Buhl.

Although the road is adequate for the short-term, District 4 intends to make minor improvements initially, such as signing and guardrail improvements and then begin planning for major improvements in the future as feasible.

Other board activity

District 4 report
District 4 engineer Devin Rigby reported on its after-storm critique initiative. To provide better service to the public, the district staff reviews its response to storms. The review looks at what went well, what improvements are needed, and whether adequate staffing and equipment was available. The intent is to identify and implement the best maintenance practices.

The district delivered 81 percent of the highway construction projects it assumed by July 1 plus six additional projects. The U.S. 93, Twin Falls Alternate Route Stage 2 project is proceeding well and is ahead of schedule. The district has 50 projects totaling $147 million under contract this year.

Recommended FY11-15 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
The board approved the recommended FY11-15 STIP, clearing the way for submitting it to the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration for their review and approval.

Some of the changes made since the draft was presented at the June workshop include the addition of $19 million in bridge projects to accommodate a revised estimate of state funds in FY12 and later, the advance and delay of projects as a result of delivery during the end-of-year review, incorporation of recently approved Safe Routes to School projects and increases to accommodate Local Highway Technical Assistance Council administrative costs.

The department is committed to communicating with citizens, elected officials, tribes, other state and federal agencies, and other interested parties throughout the year. In keeping with that commitment, a specific comment period on the draft FY11-15 STIP was held from July 6 through Aug. 4. The 36 STIP comments received during this year’s process exceeded the number submitted last year by two.

The removal of funding to purchase right-of-way on the Idaho 44 and U.S. 20/26 corridors elicited the most comments. Other projects that received multiple comments were the variable message sign in McCall and support of the Middleton Alternate Route.

Public Transportation Advisory Council (PTAC) District 5 Member
Kathy Ray was selected to represent District 5 on the PTAC. She will fill the vacancy left by Ken Bullock, who resigned to become the District 5 Mobility Manager. Ray’s term will expire May 31, 2011.

An economic development specialist, Ray envisions mobility as connecting transportation for tourists flying to Salt Lake City and heading to Jackson, Wyo., and Yellowstone; access to Idaho State University and other educational institutions in the region; and pedestrian and bicycle pathways connecting communities to schools, medical services, and business district. She also recognizes the need for transportation for seniors, especially when traveling for meals, shopping and medical services.

Published 9-24-2010