Board considers report from Valley Regional Transit

Valley Regional Transit (VRT), created by voters in Ada and Canyon counties in 1998, coordinates transit services in both Treasure Valley counties and operates a regional public transportation system. Executive Director Kelli Fairless provided a report on VRT’s activities to members of the Idaho Transportation Board when they met in Boise last week.

The governing structure recently was changed to improve efficiency, increase public involvement and become more accountable to local governments, Fairless explained. The board of directors consists of 28 appointed representatives from incorporated cities, counties and highway districts in Ada and Canyon counties, plus one representative each from Capital City Development Corporation, Boise State University, ITD and the Meridian Development Corporation.

VRT has established a travel-training program to assist the elderly, people with disabilities and others with transitioning to riding public transit. Another program that provides volunteer rides for the elderly, people with disabilities, persons in areas with no fixed route bus service, and provides rides after regular service hours also has been developed.

Some of VRT’s planned projects include installation of 150 benches and 30 shelters at bus stops next year. The transit service provider is considering expanding its Canyon County Maintenance and Operations Facility, because it has outgrown the existing site in Nampa. Opportunities to develop park-and-ride facilities in rural communities are being evaluated.

The ITD board also considered a report from a District 3 Public Transportation Advisory Council member on other public transportation activities in southwestern Idaho.

The council emphasizes coordination, efficiency and accountability. Geographic Information Systems are being used to identify and eliminate duplication of service and to improve route coordination. The council will continue to work on expanding and enhancing partnerships, including increasing financial support from the private sector.

Other reports to the board

Development of communications plan
Jeff Stratten, Communications program manager, presented the department’s communication plan to the board. The plan was developed to articulate and strengthen ITD’s positions on issues and highlight successes.

The plan should build credibility and trust through one-on-one meetings with the governor, the governor’s staff and legislators, Stratten said. It will provide an opportunity to present ITD’s message and receive feedback through group meetings, and it will inform employees of and include them in the department’s efforts to be more efficient and effective.

Other communications activities include distributing external publications and reports to highlight accomplishments, using traditional and social media to provide information and promote ITD’s accomplishments, providing media training to subject-matter experts and tracking and analyzing the distribution of communication efforts.

GARVEE program overview
Staff provided an update on the GARVEE Program for board members. The U.S. 95, Worley to Setters and Interstate 84, Cole to Broadway corridors have been completed. The I-84, Caldwell to Meridian, and U.S. 30, McCammon to Lava Hot Springs projects are expected to be finished by 2012.

All of the contracts for the U.S. 95, Garwood to Sagle corridor have been awarded, and the project should be completed by 2013. Right-of-way acquisition is under way for the Idaho 16 corridor that is designed to eventually connect Idaho 16 and I-84.

Construction from Idaho 44 to U.S. 20/26 is scheduled to begin next year. The right-of-way budget has been increased by $5 million. The department achieved savings on other GARVEE projects, which may result in a lower bond amount for the Idaho 16 construction bond, anticipated to be issued early next year.

The department received legislative authority to bond a total of $855 million for GARVEE projects. Five bond series have been sold totaling $732 million. Contracts to date total $686 million, with $605 million expended. ITD issued 188 construction and supply contracts that involved 152 consultants and contractors.

Delegation – Ada County Highway District
A delegation from Ada County Highway District reported on the State Street Transit and Traffic Operations Plan. Because of the importance of the State Street/Idaho 44 corridor, the local highway district worked with District 3 on a long-term vision to address the growing needs of the route.

The road is the only east/west connection north of the Boise River linking communities in Canyon and Ada counties. It is a heavily traveled commuter route with congested conditions and projected high traffic volume growth.

Challenges include balancing land use, transportation and existing neighborhoods. The plan is an integrated corridor with auto, transit and pedestrian activities.

Some near-term projects include Intelligent Transportation System activities and access management. Medium- and long-term plans include roadway widening and intersection and pedestrian improvements. The total cost of the project for the 23-mile corridor is estimated to be $423 million.

Published 8-26-2011