Transportation Board tours District 6, holds monthly meeting in Island Park

The transportation board concluded its final tour of the year of ITD districts Sept. 17 by traveling from Idaho Falls north to West Yellowstone, Mont.

The board met with the Montana Transportation Commission to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as interstate speed limits, overlegal loads, and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. The board then returned south on U.S. 20 to Harriman State Park in the Island Park vicinity, where it conducted its business meeting on the 18th.

Public Transportation Report
An overview on the public transportation services provided in District 6 and various transit issues was provided during the business meeting on Thursday.

Commuter service is provided between the Teton Valley and Jackson, Wyo. It realized a 10 percent year-over-year ridership gain since 2009, with almost 25,000 rides provided annually. Discussions are occurring on the need to expand this important service.

The Area Agency on Aging identified transportation for rural seniors as a significant challenge. It created a pilot program with Targhee Regional Public Transportation Authority to provide vouchers to allow citizens over the age of 60 to ride fare-free on TRPTA buses. The pilot program was so successful that  it has been expanded to seven of the District’s 9 counties.

The community of Rexburg would like to create a fixed-route service. With BYU-Idaho, there is a need for public transportation in that municipality; however, there is insufficient funding for that service and other needs in the region.

Idaho Transportation Investment Program
The proposed FY15-19 Idaho Transportation Investment Program was approved by the board. The five-year document includes more than $1.6 billion in capital investments, with 837 projects.  The average cost per project is $1,920,000. Some of the plans are to seal coat 3,125 lane miles, replace 56 bridges, improve 19 railroad crossings, upgrade 294 ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and improve 20 intersections.

As a result of the public comment period, which is required prior to board approval, 13 comments were received on a variety of projects. Some of those comments expressed support for the Pleasant View Road turn bays project in District 1, a sound wall on the north side of I-84 between Five Mile and Meridian Road in the Treasure Valley, realigning Idaho 55 between Banks and Round Valley in District 3, and a multi-use gravel pathway from Potlatch to create access to schools and other services in District 2.

The document will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

GARVEE Program Update
A report on the GARVEE Program was also provided.

All $857 million authorized has been bonded for 59 projects in six corridors. Fifty-five projects have been completed or will be completed this year. The GARVEE Program used 156 consulting firms, contractors, and subcontractors with the vast majority of those based in Idaho.

The three I-84 interchange replacement projects at Gowen Road, Broadway Avenue, and Meridian Road in Boise and Meridian are on schedule. All are to be completed by winter of 2015. The U.S. 30 projects, which totaled $85.8 million, are being closed out. The U.S. 95 projects in the Garwood to Sagle corridor totaling $148.4 million and the Idaho 16 extension for $110.3 million are in the final stages of construction and should be completed this fall.

Additionally, staff presented the GARVEE Transportation Program Annual Report. The report is required by Idaho Code and needs to be submitted to the legislature by Sept. 30. The document summarizes the program, project progress to date, and utilization of funds allocated to the GARVEE Program.

Published 9-26-14