Four Idaho scenic byway projects approved for federal funding

Half of the eight projects ITD submitted for funding under the FY10 National Scenic Byways Program received federal approval, the Idaho Transportation Board learned last week at its monthly business meeting in Boise.

The board approved adding the four projects to the FY11 Highway Investment Program and to amend the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program accordingly.

The $4,550 awarded to the Stanley Beautification Project will complete the Idaho 21/75 Corners project. The final step includes the construction and placement of two large engraved welcome stones at the junction of three scenic byways. The city of Stanley and the Sawtooth Mountain Mamas will provide the $1,550 match.

The Salmon, Idaho Scenic Byways Shared Use Pathways – Phase I award of $170,225 will launch the first phase of a trail system expansion effort. The project will improve mobility in and around the rural town of Salmon by constructing a .48-mile shared use path along the byway. Matching funds of $37,000 will be provided by the municipality.

The Payette River National Scenic Byway Wayfinding Implementation project received $72,625 to improve the way travelers interpret, access and navigate key sites and communities of the byway. Components of the project include the design, construction and installation of two byway map boards, city welcome signs, interpretive signs and an informational kiosk. Matching funds of $22,357 will be provided by a number of public and private entities.

A $33,131 project for the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway: Hagerman Wildlife Viewing Area will improve existing facilities at the Hagerman Rest Area. It will enhance the opportunity to view and photograph many species of migratory birds. The project features pathway leading to a viewing screen where birds can be viewed without disturbance. It will meet specifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signs will inform visitors about the species and diversity of birds in the area. Several private businesses are providing the $6,627 match.

Other board discussion

Strategic Plan
The draft FY12 Strategic Plan outlines the strategic planning components that incorporate the mission, vision, long-range goals and objectives for the department. The components are supported by the accountability and performance elements that drive the department’s investment plan.

The document notes key external factors.

  • ITD and its partner transportation providers face a challenging and uncertain future. National energy concerns, revenue challenges, new federal policies and rapid advancements in technology are influencing the way the department and other agencies consider travel. This, in turn, changes how the department manages its transportation systems.
  • Idaho’s population is among the fastest growing in the nation. Idaho’s growing population is mainly urban, and the nature of the transportation services it requires is different from rural areas. At the same time, because of inflation and current revenue structures, historic funding sources are weakening. ITD’s current financial resources are unlikely to keep pace with the growing needs. The department must remain flexible to respond quickly to shifting global trends and events.

The board approved the draft 2012 Strategic Plan with one revision. Information on economic vitality needs to be incorporated into the plan. Discussion was held on the important goal of economic vitality. The board expressed interest in conducting an economic analysis of the department to determine the financial impacts ITD has on the economy and to publicize that information.

U.S. 95 Commercial Vehicle Off-Tracking Analysis
Staff reviewed the off-tracking restrictions on U.S. 95 between Council and Grangeville. The JR Simplot Corporation and Western Trailers provided a test vehicle for the analysis. The conclusion was that all of the off-tracking distances were relatively minor.

District 3 has included two projects in the draft STIP to address off-tracking issues in Council and north of Smokey Boulder Road. Districts 2 and 3 also will evaluate the scope and cost for state employees to make minor corrections in a timelier manner, assuming budgets and environmental protection issues allow for those projects.

Published 6-24-2011