Preserving department history digitally

The department has a rich tradition, dating back to the creation of the Department of Highways (we transitioned to the Idaho Transportation Department in 1974). ITD's predecessors in road-building were the Department of Public Works, the Bureau f Highways and the original State Highway Commission. At the end of 1918, Idaho had more than 2,200 miles of road, but only one five-mile section of pavedhighway existed in the entire state.

Things have definitely changed since then. Many milestones have been achieved. We do not want to lose that history.

ITD Office of Communications is in the process of preserving some of that history by creating electronic copies of old department newsletters

The project is spearheaded by Maggie Ransom, a former DMV administration employee (34 years of service when she retired in February 2012). She returned on a part-time basis in the spring of 2014 to serve at the information desk in the Headquarters lobby and pinch-hit for the communications office.

Ransom, who was looking through copies of the old Transporters, saw a need to preserve the department memories digitally in a searchable format.

“I was looking for an article on somebody from a few years back,” said Ransom. “The article was written prior to online archives, so I had to see if I could find it in the paper files.” 

“When I started going through the paper copies of the Transporter, I would come across a story or a picture that brought back memories of that person or that event.  I thought others might enjoy reading about the past and seeing pictures of people and events,” she added.

When the project is complete, employees will be able to search through the old department newsletters online. The most recent Transporters are alreadsy available electronically, but this project will also make older issues available. In the meantime, here’s the first in an occasional series highlighting some of the articles of yesteryear: 


ITD Vault: 17 Years Ago
Jan. 1998

Foreman’s detective work pays off with thief’s capture

When thieves stole about $80,000 worth of aluminum guardrail from the Bliss Maintenance shed in January 1997, District 4 Bridge and Building Foreman Rick Lehr didn’t stop at just reporting the theft to the Gooding County Sheriff’s Office.
He turned detective.

“One Friday afternoon I sat down and just started calling salvage yards,” Lehr said. Over the next seven months, he called yards in Idaho and the Northwest asking if anyone had tried to sell them 14,000 pounds of rail.

Eventually, Lehr found a salvage yard in Portland that had bought the stolen property. The thieves had cut up the rail and were paid less than a tenth the material’s original worth — $7,000.

“Not bad for an evening’s work,” Lehr quipped.

The information, along with the name of the person who had been paid for the guardrail, was turned over to the FBI in Portland. The FBI arrested one person and has issued arrest warrants for others involved in the theft.

“Because Rick was unwilling to let the issue drop, one or more felons will be brought to justice,” District 4 Engineer Devin O. Rigby said. “This type of commitment is very important and needs to be recognized by the rest of the transportation department.”

Editor’s 2015 Note: Lehr retired from District 4 in 2007. The picture to the right is from his retirement. He was still serving as the section foreman at the time of his retirement.


ITD Vault: 30 Years Ago
March 1985

Governor Signs Safety Belt Order

On Feb. 13, 1985, Governor John Evans issued an executive order directing all state employees to use seat belts when traveling on state business. He directed all state department chiefs to start enforcing the new rule immediately.

Governor Evans said that greater use of safety belts would cut highway deaths and injuries dramatically. He said studies indicate an employer suffers direct and indirect costs of more than $120,000 when an employee is killed in an automobile accident.

“The opportunity to cut needless suffering and loss of valued employees of the State of Idaho and reduce economic losses” will benefit both employees and taxpayers, Evans said. The order applies to all state employees traveling in vehicles equipped with safety belts when on official business.

ITD has had a safety belt policy in force for some time now and headquarters employees have a safety belt use rate that is higher than that of other state employees. A recent survey conducted by the Office of Highway Safety showed a 35% rate of use of safety belts. The governor’s order serves as further reinforcement for a life-saving safety policy of ITD.

Editor’s 2015 Note: According to Idaho’s Office of Highway Safety, the cost of crashes involving unrestrained occupants was $773 million in 2013, the most recent dates for finalized statistics. Safety restraints are the most effective safety feature ever introduced for vehicles, cutting in half the likelihood for fatal and serious injuries resulting from traffic crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.







Published 04-17-15