Casino questions from the Nez Perce tribe, a summary of recent D2 activities, a look at US-12, and policy updates highlighted the April meeting of the Idaho Transportation Board in Lewiston.
Nez Perce Tribe
The delegation first approached the board at its meeting in March, requesting that the speed limit be lowered temporarily in front of the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge on US-95/US-12 east of Lewiston. Since the facility opened in 1996, there have been seven highway fatalities in that area. The majority of crashes are related to motorists turning left when they leave the casino.
In April, Tribal officials reiterated their concern for safety and again requested lowering the speed limit from 65 mph to 55. They also reported on the progress to construct an interchange at that location. The goal is to have the project ready for Plans, Specifications, and Estimates by February 2020; although the construction funds have not been identified.
Staff elaborated on the process to establish speed limits. Based on national information and Idaho’s experiences, the safest and most prudent speed limit appears to be the speed that 85% of motorists travel at or below. Variations in speed generally create problems.
Although the board did not make any changes to the speed limit, it did support staff’s recommendation to make some adjustments to the east entrance of the casino. Currently, westbound vehicles on US-95 in the right-turn deceleration lane can block the view of through traffic. Motorists turning left out of the casino may not see the shadowed vehicle. By offsetting the deceleration lane by two feet and moving the stop bar up for motorists leaving the casino and turning east onto US-95, drivers should be able to see approaching through traffic. This is a fairly inexpensive project that mainly involves striping activities.
District 2 activities
In an effort to be proactive, staff is preparing trucks for winter maintenance to reduce problems and avoid downtime. By addressing maintenance issues now, such as replacing hoses, the trucks will presumably be on the roads more and in the shop less. Now the maintenance crews have been addressing road closures due to flooding, mudslides, and rockslides, but will soon be working on summer maintenance projects such as cleaning drainage, repairing bridge decks, repairing guardrail, and patching potholes.
The Board Policy was revised to incorporate changes made to the open-meeting law last year and to update the list of groups that are to follow the open-meeting requirements. Extensive language in the Board Policy is being removed. It is being updated and placed in a new corresponding Administrative Policy because most of that language is procedural requirements, such as posting meeting notices and agendas.
It is imperative for the department’s boards and committees that are subject to the Open Meeting Law to follow the requirements. Some of the key laws include posting a notice of a meeting at least five days in advance of the meeting; posting the meeting agenda no less than 48 hours prior to the meeting; if an agenda item requires a vote, identifying it on the agenda as an action item; and maintaining minutes of all public meetings.
The board also took a short walking tour of the old Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. The first building at the site was constructed in 1927. The ranger station was designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is managed to preserve the nostalgic character of the working ranger station.