Sept. board tour focuses on trans-load facility, airport relocation, innovations

The last scheduled tour of the Idaho Transportation Board in Shoshone featured visits with a warehouser and distributor, as well as a trans-load facility. The meeting also featured discussions of airport relocation and innovations from District 4.

District 4 Tour
The last scheduled board tour of the year included a variety of activities September 21.

Dot Foods Inc., in Burley, warehouses food products and sundries from more than 800 manufacturers. It resells these products to distributors who then sell the products to restaurants, schools, and others. The facility has its own truck fleet, with almost 150 tractors and over 200 trailers.

While in Burley, the board also visited the warehouse that Watco is developing for a trans-load facility. Eastern Idaho Railroad cars will be loaded with mainly agricultural products and taken to Pocatello. From there, Union Pacific takes cars to Chicago without stopping. The products will then be distributed to other locations in the U.S. The trans-load facility will have a revolutionary racking and loading system, enabling 72-foot railcars to be loaded and unloaded in two man-hours.

The board heard an update on relocating the Burley Airport. Because of restrictions at the existing facility and safety concerns, a task force reviewed potential sites for a new Mini-Cassia Airport. The preferred site is near Declo. Some factors that were considered for the new location were weather, obstructions, access, and community input. An environmental assessment will be completed and governance for the airport will be established.

At the I-84 Cotterel Port of Entry, discussion focused on safety concerns. The co-location of the POE and rest area has the potential for truck, passenger car, and pedestrian conflicts. Short off-ramps also occasionally result in trucks backing up on the Interstate. Staff is exploring moving the POE to the Declo area.

2017-21 Idaho Transportation Improvement Program
At the business meeting in Shoshone Sept. 22, the board approved the federal fiscal year 2017-21 Idaho Transportation Improvement Program.

The average available funding is $421.8 million annually, while $417.1 million is programmed for projects each year. The majority of funds are dedicated to improving pavements. Staff will ensure that the metropolitan planning organizations’ Transportation Improvement Programs are mirrored in the document and then submit it to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

A total of 294 comments were received on a variety of projects during the public comment period from July 1-Aug. 26. The majority of comments, 189, expressed support to advance the U.S. 20/26 (Chinden) widening project in District 3. Forty-one comments from District 6 supported wildlife mitigation measures on U.S. 20.

District 4 report
District 4’s winter mobility was 80 percent, exceeding the goal of 60 percent. All of the District’s FY16 projects funded with the additional revenue from House Bill 312a are under construction. Four of the 20 FY17 projects have been delivered to date, while the entire FY17 Program is expected to be delivered by May.

Several of the district’s innovations were also highlighted, including the delineator post hook puller and portable cost-effective solution for power backup at signals that were both nominated for the Best of the Best innovations.

Published 09-30-16