Del Rio Bridge

A smarter way

"Let your head save your heels."

That's what grandpa said.

Based on District 6's showing in "Innovate ITD!," eastern Idaho employees do just that: They find better ways to do their jobs.

As of May 28, Denise Cooley, Drew Meppen, Darrin Johnson, Wade Allen, Ben Burke, Todd Grover, Dave Nickel, Karl Martin, Tim Cramer, Tracy Bono, Fred Tucker, Mike Cummings, Karen Hiatt, Nancy Luthy and Shawn Madsen had submitted improvement ideas via the Innovative Business Practices SharePoint site on the ITD intranet.

ITD has awarded Denise, Drew, Darrin, Wade, Ben and Todd framed certificates signed by Director Brian W. Ness and Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur, because their ideas have generated public recognition, saved money, or improved customer service for the agency. ITD dubs such ideas as innovations.

Exceptional innovations have resulted in cash awards and regional or national recognition in a variety of competitions. ITD also offers an Employee Suggestion Bonus Program, which recognizes outstanding innovations with bonus payments for qualified submissions.


A buyer in Supply Operations, Denise Cooley joined Lora Longhurst and Lori Royal, who are buyers in District 4 and District 5, respectively, to propose joint purchases of supplies.

"Since our districts are close together in the same region, it made sense to buy products together," Cooley says. "Joining forces enables economies of scale."

The three districts have realized a savings of 3 percent on pothole patch and of 1.5 percent on crack seal. The buyers communicate regularly to determine commodities and services needed and which buyer will prepare and manage solicitations.

Rather than three district buyers advertising for bids on the same items at the same time, one district does it for all three districts, eliminating duplication of effort.

Drew, Darrin and Wade

An engineer in training, Drew Meppen proposed identifying travel delays in work zones. He was assisted by Darrin Johnson, transportation staff engineer assistant.

"We identified construction delays by determining the time vehicles enter and leave a work zone using Bluetooth technology," Meppen says. "The way it works is Bluetooth receivers log signals of passing Bluetooth-equipped vehicles and then compare the time traveled against travel time before construction.

"To reduce delays, we used flaggers instead of a pilot car for part of the project, saving motorists two and one-half minutes. We hope to post delay times on the 511 Travel Information website to better inform drivers."

In another innovation, Drew and Resident Engineer Wade Allen proposed that construction engineers take time-lapse footage of the Del Rio Bridge replacement using personal GoPro cameras. See the footage at

The goal was to record inventive bridge removal and construction practices.

Ben and Todd

After considerable research, Traffic Engineer Ben Burke proposed renting the Curve Advisory Reporting System (CARS), which more efficiently gathers data on safe speeds for highway curves.

CARS integrates the Global Positioning System (GPS) for automatic data collection of advisory speeds for highway curves. It requires only one technician, who drives the curve at any speed, whereas the current system takes two people, one to drive curves at variable speeds and one to read the ball-bank instrument.

The system worked so fast and well that Todd Grover of District 6 agreed to additionally drive the highways of Districts 1, 2 and 5 to gather curve data for their traffic engineers. These engineers analyzed the data and created reports on advisory speeds.

Your turn

ITD started the Innovate ITD! program last year. So far, it has yielded 127 suggested innovations.

Ideas go into the "Idea Funnel" for further review and possible development. As of May 28, there are 127 ideas listed in the funnel on the Innovate SharePoint site.

If an idea is implemented and provides value to the department, the employee converts the idea to an "Implemented Innovation" by changing it to an "implemented innovation" in the form. This new feature means employees don't have to recreate their previous data entry. As of now, there are 76 innovations listed in this log.

All contributors listed for implemented innovations receive the framed certificate. For those submitting ideas, they receive the Innovate ITD! Ribbon. You can spot frequent idea submitters by the number of ribbons hanging on their cubicle walls or office doors.

"ITD's vision of becoming the best transportation department in the country will be realized through continuous improvement efforts that deliver value to ITD and its stakeholders," McArthur says. "This is innovation, ITD style, and Innovate ITD! is where we keep score."

To submit your ideas or innovations, log on to the ITD intranet and click the "Innovate" box.

Published 05-29-15