Transportation board tour includes D-4 recreational area

Idaho Transportation Board members saw firsthand how the investment of transportation funds improves non-motorized travel as part of their final district tour of the year last week.

The board stopped near a pond north of Ketchum that ITD created as part of an earlier highway project. The pond is a popular recreation site. A bicycle/pedestrian path also parallels the highway in the area.

The city of Ketchum recently adopted a master plan that focuses on trails, access, parking and riverside recreation. It calls for a whitewater park that will provide in-stream recreation and instruction and serve as a venue for slalom and freestyle competition. The intent is to start construction on the park in 2014. The city has worked closely with ITD’s District 4 and other agencies to develop the wate- park concept.

City representatives emphasized the importance of recreation and tourism to the economy.

The District 4 tour ended in Twin Falls with a visit to the Chobani yogurt plant that is under construction. When fully operational, the plant will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and employ about 500 people. Company officials expect approximately 300 trucks daily, including about 140 trucks delivering milk and 140 trucks departing with finished products.

All of the deliveries will be scheduled, so traffic will be staggered, limiting impacts to the area’s transportation system. Additionally, the shifts will not be “normal” shift times, so employees should not be on the road during regular commute times. Some of the reasons Chobani, based in New York, decided to build a plant in Twin Falls were the labor pool, the availability of milk, educational opportunities and the assistance it received from the College of Southern Idaho, and the positive reception it received from the city.

Business discussion

Idaho Dairymen’s Association
At the board’s Thursday (Sept. 20) business meeting in Shoshone, the Idaho Dairymen’s Association provided an overview on the state’s dairy industry. The presentation was part of the transportation board’s commitment to better understand local needs as part of the Idaho Freight Study and update of the Idaho Rail Plan.

Idaho is third in the nation for both milk and cheese production. As of August, there were 560 dairies operating in the state and dairy herds of 553,218 cows. More than half of the state’s dairies (55 percent) are in the Magic Valley. Some of the dairymen’s concerns are the perception that dairies don’t pay their share to offset the impacts to highways, and truck weights. Higher weight limits are not beneficial if those weights are not allowed on secondary roads, which often are used to transport milk from the dairy to the plant.

Alternative Contracting
ITD staff members gave a report on the department’s first design-build project, Highway 44, Linder Road to Ballantyne Lane. A two-phased procurement process was used to select the firm: a request for qualifications and then a request for proposals. The five-month procurement process resulted in the selection of Central Paving Company Inc. and Horrocks Engineering. The best-value process considered criteria such as the technical proposal, contract time and cost.

Future design-build projects will be selected based on criteria such as complexity and innovation, delivery schedule, level of design and risk factors. Nominated projects will be evaluated and screened before being recommended to the Board.

Thousand Springs Scenic Byway Delegation
The Southern Idaho Tourism Council emphasized the importance of the state’s transportation system. Council delegates say the scenic byway program is especially beneficial to the tourism industry, which is vital to the state’s economy.

The board was briefed on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway and various projects along the route. The 68-mile byway begins at Interstate 84 near Bliss and follows U.S. 30 southeast through Twin Falls to Idaho 50, then north back to I-84.

Construction is under way on the wildlife viewing area at the Hagerman Rest Area. Wildlife viewing is becoming more popular. The project will improve access and safety to the wildlife viewing area. The project will comply with standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Published 9-28-2012