Safety at roving ports, bridge funding strategy and an economic preview to be discussed at board’s monthly meeting

Safety concerns at roving ports of entry, a strategy for funding future bridge repairs, and an awards presentation will highlight the Idaho Transportation Board’s November meeting, which will begin by attending the Pacific Northwest Economic Region’s annual conference, in Boise Nov. 17.

Business meeting
The board will attend the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) conference in downtown Boise at 8 a.m. Nov. 17 to start its monthly business meeting.

PNWER was created in 1991 by the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Its mission is to increase economic well-being and quality of life for citizens of the region while maintaining and enhancing the natural environment. Some of its goals are to coordinate policies throughout the region, promote greater regional collaboration, enhance the competitiveness of the region in both domestic and international markets, and achieve continued economic growth while maintaining the region’s natural resources.
PNWER’s winter meeting is being held at the Boise Centre Nov. 16-19. The board will attend the breakfast session and part of the transportation session. ITD will make the first presentation during the transportation session followed by the Port of Lewiston, news from Washington, D.C. and information on the federal FAST Act, public-private financing, rail safety, and oil train legislation. The board will leave the conference around 10:30 a.m. to conduct its business meeting in the auditorium.

Roving Ports of Entry locations
Earlier, the Trucking Advisory Council expressed concern to the board about safety at some of the roving port of entry (POE) locations. It questioned stopping sight distance, left turn movements, signing setups, roadway storage, and other geometric issues.

Staff reviewed 342 roving POE locations, measuring sight distances at entrances and exits, work and inspection area dimensions and conditions, availability of auxiliary lanes, and highway characteristics such as speed limit, vehicular volumes, and percentages of heavy vehicles.  Improvements were identified at 15 sites, including lengthening or widening turnouts, improving site access, and relocation. No funding has been identified for these improvements, which will compete with other needed projects on the state highway system.

Additionally, a number of sites will no longer be used for roving POEs. Reasons to discontinue using 63 sites are urbanization of the area, high adjacent-traffic volumes, insufficient site size, the need for flagging control during operation, and redundancy with other sites.

Strategy to fund bridge projects
In April, the board approved developing design-build contracts for 26 bridge replacement projects. The department expected to receive about $50 million in new funds from the Strategic Initiative Program Fund (funded via surplus revenue in the state’s general fund). The actual revenue ended up being $11 million, which funded seven bridges.

Staff will propose building as many of the remaining 19 bridge projects as possible by using money from bid savings, previous-year project closeout savings, and other cost savings as they become available. This would be done in lieu of the traditional method of advancing projects from the next fiscal year. There are two main advantages to this: first, it will reduce the impact of disrupting the delivery schedule and secondly, by authorizing this now, staff can utilize the already completed packages to obligate funds as we go, resulting in projects being built a year earlier.

Published 11-11-16