Transportation board holds its first meeting of new year
At its first meeting of the new year Jan. 16 in Boise, the transportation board heard an annual report from the Division of Aeronautics, listened to a delegation interested in using the Port of Lewiston and approved an expressway designation.
Division of Aeronautics
Last year, there were 33 aviation accidents with 12 fatalities in Idaho compared to 39 accidents with five fatalities in 2012. Pilots making poor decisions appeared to be the most common factor in the incidents. Flying in poor weather conditions in aircraft not equipped with anti-ice/de-ice equipment claimed eight lives. A mid-air collision claimed another life. Fuel mismanagement was responsible for two additional fatalities. To address some of the safety concerns, standard operating procedures were developed for Johnson Creek, the state’s most popular airstrip.
Several state airports were instrumental in firefighting efforts in 2013. Four were used for fire suppression aircraft and as base camps. It was also noted that recreational usage at the state airports was up 10 percent over the last two years. Volunteers continue to be a valuable asset with maintaining and improving state airports. Last year, 335 man hours contributed to enhancements at eight facilities.
Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Delegation
The delegation expressed interest in using the Port of Lewiston; however, a good, reliable corridor to Canada is needed. Access to markets and moving products is critical.
PNWER would like Idaho to take the lead on harmonizing vehicle size and weight standards in the region and to streamline the permitting process. Another initiative it would like Idaho to help coordinate is Fast Forward Northwest. This public/private partnership would improve international market access for exports by eliminating bottlenecks on rail corridors and improving road and port connections.
Designation of an Expressway
The board approved District 2’s request to designate a portion of U.S. 95 as an expressway from Lewiston to Moscow. The majority of the route has been improved. Efforts are underway to improve the highway from Thorncreek Road to Moscow. The final stages of the Environmental Impact Statement are underway.