District 5’s Wye Design Team
nominated for prestigious Hewes award

This year, for the first time ever, Idaho’s nominee for the WASHTO Hewes award will be a team rather than just one individual. This is a nod to the department’s emphasis on teamwork, and to the “One ITD” atmosphere being cultivated.

The Dr. L. I. Hewes award is given annually to a state member of WASHTO for outstanding contributions to the highway development program.

The WYE Interchange project involves rebuilding the Interstate 15/Interstate 86 system interchange in Pocatello. Built in the early ‘60s, the existing facility no longer provides adequate functionality. Deficiencies include extremely short weaving distances, left-hand entrances and exits, design speeds too low for modern situations, and height restrictions that limit economic opportunities.

The WYE design team chose not to outsource work on this challenging project, instead giving staff excellent development opportunities. It was also done to increase constructive culture within ITD by collectively solving challenging problems.
The team developed efficiencies in several key areas, most notably by pioneering early value planning. This process involved bringing all stakeholders together at the onset of design to collaboratively develop “must have” project requirements, then develop and rank alternatives in real time using tools like VISSIM and Concept Station against those requirements. This five-day process was the first of its kind for Idaho, and provided the project team with an excellent head start.

There are no off-system detours that can accept the 40,000 vehicles per day that use the interchange. The team is designing construction phasing to provide a new interchange that solves the deficiencies of the present facility, while keeping at least two lanes open in all directions and not purchasing right of way.

The team has built important regional partnerships in developing the design. This includes working with the cities of Chubbuck and Pocatello to redesign a local road to pass under Interstate 15 instead of overhead. This is important because several companies in the immediate area produce large equipment slated for delivery in oil and gas production, and the existing overhead structure presented an obstacle in delivering those products.

“Like many WASHTO agencies, ITD has traditionally outsourced more complex work,” explained D5 District Engineer Ed Bala. “By choosing not to outsource, and by holding themselves to high standards of quality and early delivery, the team has enhanced the work experience of all members.”

Bala said the team members come from a total of three different organizations within ITD's Highways — two different D5 design/construct groups and HQ Bridge. He added that the team is using the project as a springboard to learn and practice new skills by designing in 3D.

Idaho has only four previous Hewes Award winners: A.J. Sachse in 1956; Hugh Lydston in 1980; Ray Mickelson in 1991; and Tom Baker in 1998.

Published 04-26-19