Idaho Transportation

Office of Communications
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID 83707
Fax: 208.334.8563


December 2009 highlights

ITD named Employer of Year
The Idaho Transportation Department is a pretty good place to work. That was the assessment of the Treasure Valley chapter of Women in Transportation, which presented ITD with the Employer of the Year award during at Thursday ceremony in Boise.

Acting Director Scott Stokes accepted the award on behalf of the department. WTS cited the department’s outstanding leadership and its record of support for women in the transportation industry as reasons for the award:

• Enhancement of the Transportation Industry
• Record of Affirmative Action at all Levels
• Continuing Education Opportunities
• Women Internship Opportunities
• WTS Support

District 2 clearing way for mammoth loads
From the Lewiston Tribune
A piece of a refinery bound for Canada is scheduled to make a three-day journey from Lewiston to Montana, temporarily blocking both lanes on U.S. Highway 12 this June.

ITD has approved a plan by Imperial Oil/ExxonMobile to ship a test verification module along that route in what may be the first of 30 to 40 such trips, said Doral Hoff, ITD's district maintenance engineer in Lewiston. The cargo is presently in Vancouver, Wash. It will be barged up the Columbia and Snake rivers to the Port of Lewiston or the Port of Wilma in Whitman County just west of Clarkston, then unloaded.

The test verification module is 24 feet wide, 25 feet 7 inches tall and 120 feet 3 inches long. It weighs 106 tons. Those dimensions don't include the trucks to transport it, Hoff said. Typically the loads that tractor-trailers carry are 90 feet long, 10 feet wide, not more than 14 feet high and weigh about 40 tons, Hoff said.

The move will cause delays of 15 minutes, Hoff said. The test verification module will travel at 20 to 30 mph in legs of four to six miles while oncoming traffic is stopped by flaggers before pulling off in passing lanes, turn lanes or pullouts to allow vehicles to move around it.

Ten Mile Bridge coming down
The Ten Mile bridge over I-84 will come down Dec. 11, the last of three long-standing interstate bridges (all over 40 years of age) in the Treasure Valley that will have disappeared since late October. First it was the old Orchard Bridge that came down Oct. 23 & 24. The demolition on Vista Bridge started Nov. 30.

The demolition of Ten Mile will be similar to Orchard, with excavators equipped with hydraulic breakers stationed on top of the structure beating it to the ground on the interstate underneath.
The interstate will be closed during the overnight work, and a layer of dirt at least a foot thick will protect the lanes below from damage. In the case of Vista, the contractor choose to saw-cut the old structure, then pick the girders.

Once the Ten Mile bridge comes down, there will be no north-south access over the interstate at that location for 17 months -- the anticipated duration of the $33.8 million project.

ITD equipment buy-back featured in Caterpillar magazine
Steve Spoor has become a celebrity of sorts. He has a magazine cover as proof.

Spoor’s image and account of ITD’s successful heavy equipment buy-back program are featured as a cover story in the fall issue of Caterpillar’s magazine “Governmental Solutions,” which is devoted to corporate and government relationships.

The magazine cover shows Spoor in front of a Caterpillar font-end loader. In his previous position as Maintenance Services Manager, Spoor was responsible for drafting specifications and procuring much of ITD’s rolling stock, from sedans and pickups to backhoe and front-end loaders.

Maintenance sheds connected to the world
Until recently, the best way to reach some of ITD’s remote maintenance sheds was to drive there. Connectivity using telephones, cell phones and computer networks - was unreliable in many locations.

Major improvements to the information highway are changing that. ITD has invested heavily in bringing all but a few of the rural maintenance facilities onto the department’s network, improving access to e-mail, time sheet entry, the RWIS (Road Weather Information System), the 511 system and the Web.

The upgrade was initiated at the request of the District Engineers, and additional emphasis was placed on the project in preparation for the future Maintenance and Pavement Management system, which will rely heavily on staff input and access from these key locations.

The new connectivity will allow districts to have more reliable and faster access to information to ITD’s maintenance facilities located throughout the state. While information gathered by the maintenance and pavement management system will provide the Department with greater efficiency and better maintenance management decisions.

New member from D-2 takes seat on transportation board
After 29 years of service in the public sector, the last 14 of which were as manager of the city of Lewiston, Jan Vassar still wasn’t ready to step into the shadows. She remained active in civic endeavors and held a position on the state Public Transportation Advisory Council.

But when longtime associate and friend Bruce Sweeney lost his courageous battle with cancer in August, Vassar recognized a new opportunity to serve. She contacted Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and volunteered her expertise as a possible successor to Sweeney on the Idaho Transportation Board.

The governor took Vassar up on the offer and named her Dec. 10 to fill the remainder of Sweeney’s term, which expires on Jan. 31, 2010, She would be open to filling the District 2 spot on the board for a longer term if circumstances allow. Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning vows to do what he can to secure that longer arrangement.

“We are very, very pleased to have Jan on the board,” he says. “She brings a local perspective that will be very valuable to the board. We are fortunate to have her.”

ITD, Nampa school expand TRAC curricula
ITD volunteers returned to the classroom this fall with changes planned for the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program the department and the Nampa School District have offered students the past two years.

While the TRAC PACS – self-contained classroom educational modules – remain, ITD’s school outreach team is working to expand transportation components to students, including materials, aeronautics and environmental.

“The program is going in a slightly different direction this year,” explained Greg Laragan, assistant chief engineer (operations) and leader of the ITD volunteers since 2006. “Instead of relying on the TRAC modules from AASHTO, we will be providing subject matter experts who can talk to the classes about topics that have been selected by each teacher to best fit into their curriculum.

Students want to know what transportation professionals do on a daily basis or what it means to be an engineer, she said. Site visits to ITD’s materials lab and valley highway projects will help connect the classroom work to real-life situations.

Reason report ranks Idaho system 14th best for performance
A national report released last week announced an ITD success that often gets lost in the daily business of operating a transportation system. ITD continues to rank among the nation’s leaders for in terms of management and performance.

The Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., released its 18th annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems.

Researchers David T. Hartgen, Ravi K. Karanam and M. Gregory Fields produced the 112-page report that analyzes performance indicators based on highway mileage and condition, bridge conditions, fatality rates, congestion and states’ transportation spending. All factors considered, Idaho ranked 14 nationally for the second consecutive year. It has been ranked as high as fifth, but recent budget constraints are negatively impacting the transportation system.

Of the 11 factors identified, Idaho’s highest ranking was eighth in the percent of narrow rural lanes. It ranks 11 in bridge condition (deficiency and obsolescence), and 12th in funding administrative functions. The worst showing comes in state-controlled highway miles (43rd) and urban interstates considered in poor condition (46th nationally).

ITD delegates meet legislators in each district
ITD representatives last week concluded a series of meetings with Idaho Legislators in all six of the administrative districts. Delegations included transportation board chairman Darrell Manning, acting director Scott Stokes, incoming director Brian Ness, governmental affairs manager Mollie McCarty, district engineers and administrative staff. They traveled to Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston on Tuesday (Dec. 15) after meeting with District 3 legislators on Monday.

The previous week included sessions in Shoshone, Pocatello and Rigby.

ITD introduced the annual pre-Legislature meeting concept in 2003 as a way of improving communication and discussing transportation issues. Agendas also typically include the department’s proposed budget and bills that could surface during the session.

ITD’s approach in the past was to make a formal presentation and then ask legislators for questions or responses. In contrast, this year ITD scaled back the formal presentation and invited legislators to shape the discussions.

Published 1-1-2010