Funding, marijuana, strategic risks highlight
board meeting November 16

The Idaho Transportation Board discussed funding, marijuana use on roads, and risks to strategic goals at the Nov. 16 meeting at Headquarters.

Research Program
An annual report on ITD’s Research Program was provided at the November 16 board meeting at Headquarters in Boise.

The budget for the Research Program for FY18 is $1.8 million, with 13% from state sources. Federal statutes require 2% of funding for roads and bridges to be used for planning and research. Additionally, 25% of those funds must be spent on research-related activities, developing new tools and technologies, and technology transfer or training activities. The majority of the funds, — 54% —  is spent on research projects requested by ITD staff members. Most projects are completed by researchers at Idaho’s universities.

Bridge Engineers summarized some of the research projects they’re managing, such as a field evaluation of thermal method to monitor bridge scour, fatigue crack detection using unmanned aerial systems in under-bridge inspections, and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ bridge rating software modernization.

Some of the other research projects either completed recently or underway include an evaluation of Doppler Radar-based wildlife detection systems, an evaluation of the use of bacteria for control of cheat grass on highway rights-of-way, a study of safety impacts of wide pavement markings on two-lane rural highways, and an assessment of concrete performance in aggressive salt environments.

A communications survey also found that the public is generally not familiar with ITD’s mission.

Impaired Driving – Marijuana Use
The Director of Washington’s Traffic Safety Commission summarized the state’s efforts to legalize marijuana and its impacts. About 50% of Washington’s traffic fatalities are related to impairment. Alcohol impairment appears to be decreasing, while drug impairment is increasing. Marijuana is a very common drug in impaired drivers, but it is usually found in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Washington found that drivers with marijuana in their system is as common during the day as night and as common during the weekday as the weekend.

Based on Washington’s experience, he mentioned things other states should consider. For example, Washington allows a person to grow 15 marijuana plants; however, the state did not envision a plant growing to be 20 feet tall, which they’re finding. States should consider establishing a task force to focus on marijuana and drugged driving, but a systems approach should be taken, because it is not just one entity’s problem. If marijuana is legalized, seek dedicated funding from revenue sources such as marijuana taxes for education and enforcement.

Enterprise Risk Management
Staff led a workshop on enterprise risk management. The intent was to seek board guidance on how to prioritize and respond to risks to achieve the department’s strategic objectives.

A risk register was developed based on interviews with staff. Five types of impacts were identified: reputational, health and safety, financial, compliance, and operations or disruption of service. The Senior Leadership Team evaluated the risk if the event occurs and assessed the likelihood of each event occurring within the next five years.

The board was not willing to accept a very high risk without mitigation and to take cost-effective actions to improve very high risks to high or medium if possible. Additionally, the board believes an annual report is sufficient; however, reports should be provided when significant issues are identified.

Published 12-01-17