Board discusses FY14-18 transportation investment proposal

The Idaho Transportation Board discussed a $2.1 billion, five-year transportation investment package designed to improve travel throughout Idaho when it met for an all-day workshop Tuesday (June 18) in Boise.

The draft FY14-18 Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP) would allocate 82 percent of the funds for highway projects, including the GARVEE program. Aeronautics projects comprise 13 percent of the spending proposal, while public transportation and local participation account for 4 percent and 1 percent respectively.

The average annual funding for pavements and bridges during the five-year program is $332.7 million. An average of $24 million will be dedicated for safety projects and $10 million for planning. The five-year plan includes seal-coating 2,586 lane miles, restoring 1,259 lane miles of pavement, replacing 82 bridges, and rehabilitating 30 others.

The Division of Aeronautics lists 196 projects in the ITIP. Funds would support new construction, maintenance/rehabilitation and local and statewide planning. Forty-six percent of the work is for maintenance or rehabilitation.

Incident Response report
Three Incident Response vehicles that travel Interstate 84 between Caldwell and east Boise log more than 150,000 miles annually and respond to approximately 5,200 incidents – an average of 100 per week. Incident Response drivers help stranded motorists and assist at crash scenes, with the primary goal of keeping traffic moving safely.

District 3 staff members provided an annual report on the service and its activities to the Idaho Transportation Board last week during its regular business meeting in Boise.

ITD is considering the feasibility of securing a sponsor for the program to help defray operating costs. The department spends about $172,000 annually to operate the program. The value of the sponsorship is estimated to be $20,000 per vehicle, or a total of about $60,000 annually.

State Farm Insurance sponsors similar incident response programs in other states.

The board directed staff to draft a policy to address the sponsorship concept.

Privatization of Logos, Tourist Oriented Directional Sign (TODS) programs
ITD also is exploring the feasibility of privatizing the Logos and Tourist Oriented Directional Sign programs (TODS). The Logos and TODS programs provide roadside services information about facilities such as restaurants, lodging and fuel.

Under one option, a vendor would assume responsibility for the signs, including installation and maintenance. ITD would review and approve sign locations, site layouts, traffic control plans, marketing, materials, manufacturing, installation and maintenance. ITD staff also would conduct periodic audits and field reviews to ensure the contractor is abiding by the contract.

The vendor would guarantee ITD a fixed annual income in exchange for the vendor’s authority to market the program and charge businesses a fee for each logo installation that is commensurate with the market conditions at each location. In addition to potential revenue of $150,000 annually, ITD would avoid costs associated with managing the Logos program. Savings are estimated to be between $50,000 and $150,000.

The board approved proceeding with the next step in the effort – rule-making.

“Community Choices for Idaho” policy
In April, the board approved creation of the Community Choices for Idaho management tool that will assist local communities in applying for funds and establish a competitive project-selection process.

The program, administered and managed through the Division of Transportation Performance, is a clearinghouse for local funding sources. It now includes the Transportation Alternative Program, but is expected to expand to include other programs. Between 70 and 90 percent of the total program funds will be targeted for infrastructure projects and 10-30 percent for non-infrastructure projects.

The board approved a new policy, Community Choices for Idaho, to further define the new program, including the establishment of an advisory committee.

Public involvement process
According to the Guidebook to Public Involvement, if a project has the potential for controversy, involves land acquisition or has significant social, economic and/or environmental impact on the surrounding area, public involvement is required.

ITD uses a variety of tools to share information. In addition to newspapers, television and radio, information may be provided through Twitter or Facebook. It is important to notify the public well in advance of upcoming meetings. Letters are mailed to property owners 30 days beforehand, and advertisements are displayed in newspapers 21 days before a public meeting.

Published 6-28-13