New board positions, GARVEE bonding, safety near casino
featured in March board meeting

A new vice chairman of the board plus the introduction of two new members, approval of GARVEE bonding authority, and a safety request for the Clearwater River Casino highlighted the March 21 Idaho Transportation Board meeting in Boise.

New Vice Chairman
The board elected Jim Kempton as vice chairman. Kempton, from Albion, was appointed as the District 4 member in 2012. He was reappointed to a second six-year term in 2018. The Twin Falls native is a former legislator and Public Utilities Commissioner, and a decorated Air Force fighter pilot.

New board members
Two new members, Jim Thompson in District 1 and Bob Hoff in District 6, were introduced at last week’s meeting. You can read more about them in last week’s Transporter.

Here’s the link to that story.

GARVEE Program
Staff summarized GARVEE-funded projects and requested authority to issue additional bonds.

In 2017, the legislature approved $300 million in additional GARVEE bonds. Two projects are being funded on US-95 in District 1, using $65 million in GARVEE bonds plus $27.1 million of federal funds. Construction should start in spring 2020 on the US-95, Granite North safety improvements. The other project will be done in two phases, with construction on the US-95 and ID-53 interchange and Union Pacific Railroad bridge expected to start this summer, and the Garwood Grade Separation and Frontage Roads portion next spring.

The I-84 corridor from Nampa to Caldwell is divided into three projects funded with $185.5 million in GARVEE bonds, $66 million with state funds, and $90.2 million with federal INFRA grant funds. All of the safety and capacity projects should be under construction by the end of this summer. 

Work on the ID-16 corridor consists of preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition. Funding consists of $50.5 million in GARVEE bonds, $21.7 million in state funds, and $26 million in federal funds. No construction funds have been identified to extend the highway from US-20/26 to I-84.

Following an update on the status of these projects, the board approved the request to issue $141,590,000 in GARVEE bonds. Additionally, staff is authorized to refinance the callable portion of the Series 2009A bonds if it is determined that refunding would result in savings. The Series 2009 July 2020 principle payment is $8.1 million. The department could save about $200,000 if the 2009 series is refinanced.

Delegation: Nez Perce Tribe
Staff provided background on the US-95/US-12 corridor in front of the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge east of Lewiston.

Since the facility opened in 1996, there have been seven highway fatalities in that area. Between 2012 and 2017, there were 12 crashes at the west entrance of the facility and 6 at the east entrance. The majority of crashes are related to left turns.

Some improvements have been made to the corridor over time. There is an agreement with the Nez Perce Tribe to construct an interchange. The design for the interchange should be completed this winter. Other options to address safety in the area have also been considered. Acceleration lanes are good short-term options, but would be removed when the interchange is constructed. Reducing the speed limit does not appear to be a viable option because history shows that when speed limits are lowered without engineering justification, it results in erratic movements and varying speeds. Also, the location does not warrant a traffic signal.

Following staff’s presentation, officials from the Nez Perce Tribe asked the board to temporarily lower the speed limit from 65 mph to 55 mph for a one-mile stretch in front of the casino. Although they understand that speed limits are set based on the 85th percentile, they also know that the severity of crashes decreases with lower speed limits. They also reported that lowering the speed limit to 55 mph at the east entry to the current 45 mph speed limit would add less than 90 seconds to the travel time for westbound motorists.

The board expressed concerns with safety in this area. It asked staff to provide additional information at the April meeting before making a decision on the speed limit request.

Policy updates
The board approved revisions to Board Policy 4006 Political Activities and concurred with the changes to the corresponding Administrative Policy 5006 Political Activities. The main change to the Board Policy is updates to the legal authority. The Administrative Policy is being re-formatted and a purpose statement and the legal authority were added.

The board also concurred with the recommendation to delete Administrative Policy A-21-01, Research Information Storage and Retrieval, because it parrots Idaho Code and the records-retention schedule is included in other documents.

All policies can be found on Share Point under Policy Finder:  http://itdportal/sites/Admin/BSM3/PolicyFinder/default.aspx

Published 03-29-19