Board tours District 3 for August meeting
The Aug. 20-21 board tour started in Boise and ended in Stanley. A stop along the Banks-to-Lowman Highway allowed the board to view a slope-scaling project underway and the installation of permanent rockfall-hazard mitigation measures. The project to address the rockfall problem includes work on five separate slopes.
An overview of the avalanche program was provided at the Lowman Maintenance Shed and during a stop along avalanche alley on Idaho 21 where avalanche debris could be viewed. During the 2013-14 winter, 124 avalanches occurred along this stretch, with nearly 50 of those slides reaching Idaho 21. The highway was closed for 13 days in March. Once it was safe for the maintenance crews to clear the highway, they first had to use excavators and bulldozers to sort through the snow clearing trees and rocks before the big rotary plow could blow out the snow.
The last stop of the tour was at the Stanley Airport. The airport was built at its current location in 1952. ITD acquired the facility in 2000 through an easement. It offers amenities such as a portable toilet, picnic table and shelter. Thanks to a unique partnership between the Division of Aeronautics and District 4, 1,600 feet of the 4,300-foot runway was paved in 2011, resulting in the first ITD-owned or operated airstrip to receive an asphalt surface.
Strategic Plan End-of-Year Report
The Safety Team reported on highway-safety trends. The five-year highway fatality rate was 1.25 per 100 million miles driven in 2013, continuing the trend of a decreasing fatality rate. Unfortunately, the fatalities per year increased from a low of 167 in 2011 to 213 in 2013. Fatalities involving impaired drivers, those with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.08, also increased during this time period--from 50 in 2011 to 62 in 2013. On a positive note, the seat belt use rate of 81.6 percent in 2013 was better than the goal of 79.7 percent.
The two main goals of the Economic Opportunity Team were to implement performance-based planning and to continue scheduling projects that facilitate commerce. Projects are evaluated for their return on investment and safety benefits. During the next fiscal year, the emphasis will be on analyzing the value of projects for safety components, their ability to maintain the infrastructure, and their economic benefits; and to revisit the freight study and re-establish the Freight Advisory Committee.
The Employee Development Team’s focus has been on the culture change and succession planning. Training is being provided to move to a more constructive culture. Efforts also are underway to attract and retain quality employees. Some progress has been made as a result of the raises that were implemented recently, but the department’s pay is still below market. Customer service is also an important component. Some of the future plans include continuing employee-retention strategies; developing leaders and determining the effectiveness of those efforts; and performance management activities, including ensuring employees know their expectations.
The Innovative Business Practices Team’s goal, that all infrastructure projects will be under contract by April 1 of each federal fiscal year, was realized this past year. The Innovate ITD! program was launched, with the first recognition for submitted ideas presented in May. The team’s focus will continue to be on creating a culture that fosters innovation. It will continue to track and report on the number of innovative ideas submitted.
Public Transportation Advisory Council
District 4 was commended for its collaboration with Blaine County on its bicycle/pedestrian master plan. Idaho 75 over Galena Summit was restriped to narrow the travel lanes and provide a wider shoulder for uphill bicyclists, improving safety for cyclists and runners.
On a related note, former ITD employee Maureen Gresham was appointed to serve as the District 3 Public Transportation Advisory Council member. Gresham is the Ada County Highway District Commuteride Manager. The council advises the department on public transportation issues and policies.