August 20, 2010

Direct from the Director

Hiring freeze is cautious response to economic uncertainty

ITD employees,
As a hedge against the uncertain economy and funding for the department, I have decided to broaden the department’s cautious approach to filling vacant positions by initiating a hiring freeze. The hiring freeze will be in place until further notice.

It makes more sense to freeze hiring than to lay people off if the economy slows even further. In addition, I am looking at ways we might become more efficient, including reorganizing the department. It would be short-sighted to continue to fill vacant positions that could be impacted by the potential shifting or combining of job responsibilities.


Back-to-School Safety

Motorists, children urged to use caution
Parents across Idaho have spent the past few weeks filling school supply lists and shopping for new clothes to dress their children for the impending school year. But too often safety is low on the back-to-school priority list. ITD wants to make the return to school as safe as possible for more than 275,000 children, their parents and their schools. The Office of Highway Operations and Safety, the Safe Routes to School program and ITD administrators encourage parents and children to take measures that will make transportation to school safer.

Children encouraged to walk, bike... but do it safely
ITD recommends that children walk to school if they live within a reasonable distance and if they can do so safely. The added daily physical activity promotes good health, reduces congestion, improves air quality and saves natural resources while teaching children important traffic safety skills.

Motorists, children need to use caution near school buses
Motorists should be keenly aware of the risks that accompany the reopening of schools as more children use sidewalks and bicycle paths. But drivers also need to watch for buses transporting children to and from schools in the morning and afternoon. Buses sometimes stop in travel lanes, requiring approaching vehicles to slow or stop.

Tips offered to make walking, biking safety
ITD recommends that parents and teachers share the following information with children to improve the safety of school commutes:

Safe Routes to School shares benefits of walking, biking
One in three Idaho third-graders is overweight or likely to become obese so ITD’s Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program helps communities support more children walking and bicycling to school to combat the problem. “SR2S helps communities achieve new balance at a time when escalating transportation costs are forcing schools to reduce busing,” said Jo O’Connor, ITD SR2S coordinator. “Choosing to walk or bike to school will benefit kids, parents and the community.”

Idaho part of I-90/I-94 corridor pooled-fund study
Interstate 90 cuts a relatively short swath through northern Idaho – slightly more than 73 miles. But it plays a major role in linking motorists and commerce from Washington to Wisconsin -- and the six states between. ITD became part of an eight-state coalition -- North West Passage" -- in 2005 that focuses on creating a seamless traveler information system along the I-90 route and a northern I-94 loop that extends from eastern Montana to southern Wisconsin. The I-90 segment covers approximately 1,970 miles or roughly two thirds of the nation’s northern width.


Two D-1 groups honored for highway cleanups
In one of Hollywood’s greatest thrillers of all time, Forrest Gump thoughtfully proclaimed: “Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’ll get. A group of dedicated volunteers in northern Idaho could adopt the phrase as its operational motto. When members of the Pierce Clegg Work Release Center in Coeur d’Alene embark on their regular highway cleanups they’re apt to find almost anything...


Public Transportation
Grant sought to improve ridership, conserve resources
Curbing energy use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing public transportation ridership are goals of a $1.5 million federal funding request prepared by ITD and the Community Transportation Association of Idaho (CTAI). The Federal Transit Administration will award $100 million in discretionary funds to public transportation agencies nationwide for energy and greenhouse gas reduction through its Transit Investment for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program.

PTAC plans teleconference to pick new member
The Public Transportation Advisory Committee (PTAC) will meet via statewide teleconference next week to select a member to represent southeast Idaho. The teleconference will be Thursday (Aug. 26) at 9 a.m. The public is invited to participate by calling (888) 706-6468 toll free and entering participant code 205552.

— Accolades —

Between a rock and a blank spot

My great, great grandfather Pugh came out on the Oregon Trail in 1846, and it was reported in our family history book that he carved his name in a rock at Rock Creek in Idaho. After looking up Rock Creek Camp in Idaho, we stopped there on our way to St. George, Utah, to see this “rock.” We could not find this rock anywhere and were very disappointed. We were told by the caretaker that maybe this rock was taken to Boise to a historical museum. Naturally, I was very disappointed in not finding this marker.

When we got home from our trip, I contacted your website regarding Oregon Trail markers to see what happened to this rock. I was promptly contacted by Steve Holland who had been assigned to help me. He first of all informed me that there were several “Rock Creeks” along the Oregon Trail and would see what he could do to locate a rock that the pioneers wrote their names on.

After giving Mr. Holland a little more information, he informed me about Register Rock, which is the place that pioneers signed their names, which was only about 30 miles from the other Rock Creek Camp we had gone to. Mr. Holland then contacted another employee, Wayne Curtis, who took pictures of the rock and sent them to me.


July 30, 2010

ITD, Utah State find economical solution to canal current
In the spring of 2009, crews first noticed a problem in the New York Canal near ITD's Interstate 84/Orchard Road project. As the water in the canal rushed past the bridge piers, it created an alternating vortex behind the piers. The frequency of the alternating thrusts of the water, combined with the natural frequency of the channel, created an “alternating wave oscillation harmonics” in the channel that began to erode the banks south of the canal. If left unchecked, the erosion could have compromised the integrity of the bridge.


Highway safety
Law enforcement to step up Labor Day patrols
For many, Labor Day signals the end of summer and offers a time for families and friends to gather for one last celebration of the season. ITD encourages those who plan to party to make the right choice and not drive impaired. Law enforcement officers throughout Idaho will participate in a high-visibility impaired driving enforcement campaign Aug. 27 through Sept. 7. The campaign is part of a nationwide Labor Day education and enforcement campaign targeting drunk driving.

Magic Camp introduces girls to construction activities
There’s no slight-of-hand or levitation, but Magic Camp still will offer some intrigue and challenges for girls interested in construction. Magic Camp is designed to teach young women about carpentry, masonry, and electrical skills. The camp is sponsored by the Boise Chapter (No. 245) of the National Association of Women in Construction, in partnership with Renaissance Magnet High School Professional Technical Education Center and other community sponsors.