Eastern Idaho transportation, economic issues lead May board meeting

The transportation board learned about transportation and economic issues affecting eastern Idaho during its regional tour and business meeting in Pocatello May 21-22. Beginning in Blackfoot and ending in Pocatello, the board traveled through communities such as Shelley, Aberdeen and American Falls.

A concern at the Blackfoot Airport is its physical restrictions, limiting opportunities to expand the facility. Phase II of the Master Plan is underway and one of its components is to look at options for expanding or relocating McCarley Field.

In Shelley, the new Natural Jerky plant being built on the north end of town is raising concerns with traffic on U.S. 91 and at the intersection with Country Club Road. Initially, the facility will employ 200-250 people, increasing commuter traffic; however, the greater concern is with the additional truck traffic. The district believes it can make improvements to the intersection in the near future that will improve truck-turning radius. Future, long-term projects also will be considered.

Report on Public Transportation
At its meeting in Pocatello May 22, the board heard about public-transportation activities in the southeast corner of Idaho. Three providers offer the area a variety of services, including fixed routes, intercity connectivity, and programs for the elderly and disabled.

Efforts are underway to address transportation needs for the planned Magnida fertilizer plant in Power County. Partnerships are being explored to provide bus service for employees, which are estimated at 200-250.

Another partnership involving ITD was the development of a brochure on the Greater Blackfoot Area Greenbelt.  It describes the 6.5-mile, multi-use trail that connects neighborhoods to parks, the Snake River and other recreational sites. 

Functional Classification Update
Staff provided an update on the functional classification system, which is a method of classifying roads by the service they provide to the overall transportation system. It also provides roadway-design expectations.

There are currently seven classifications: interstate, freeway or expressway, principal arterial, minor arterial, major collector, minor collector and local.  The Federal Highway Administration eliminated the “rural” and “urban” designations.

When the classification of a road is reviewed, consideration is given to features such as average daily traffic, speed limits, number of lanes, economic impact and safety.

The 2025 State Highway Functional Classification map has been updated. It was presented to the board for information in May. Staff intends to request approval of the map next month.

District 5 reported on how it uses IPLAN. The geographic information system component aids in emergency response through fast and accurate identification of locations. IPLAN provides a vast amount of data that can be shared upon request, improving customer service. It also helps with and improves the project charter process by supplying information that assists with defining the scope, schedule and budget for projects. IPLAN is a one-stop-shop with concise data.

The statewide return on investment is estimated at $410,000 per year. The savings will be realized through the elimination of hiring consultants to collect and report on ITD data and reducing the hours needed to compile data, especially environmental data.

Published 5-30-14