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Posts tagged: Idaho Transportation Department

Lake CdA Drive Transfer On Agenda

The Coeur d'Alene City Council has scheduled a workshop to discuss the transfer of Lake Coeur d'Alene Driver from the Idaho Department of Transportation to the city. The meeting is scheduled to begin at noon Monday in the Coeur d'Alene Library Community Room. In an article last Nov. 16, the Coeur d'Alene Press reported re: this proposal: “ITD no longer wants to maintain the old highway, and is offering the stretch of road to the city. Annual upkeep on the road would cost the city $13,160, according to the street superintendent, which the department said it could afford. The property up for grabs traces the old road but extends to water's edge in spots, creating public access to the lake, including an area at Silver Beach that the city has said would make a good location for a boat launch.” More here.

Question: Would you like to see the city take control of Lake Coeur d'Alene Drive?

Otter Signs Heavy-Truck Bill, But …

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has signed legislation allowing extra-heavy trucks on non-freeway routes statewide, but says he wants the Idaho Transportation Department to hold public hearings and take other steps before designating any new routes – including Highway 95 in North Idaho - for the big, 129,000-pound trucks. “Safety must be the highest priority,” Otter wrote in a signing letter sent to lawmakers today. “The process of considering nominated routes also must include timely, well-noticed public hearings and notification of adjacent property owners.” Senate Bill 1117 was pushed by Idaho Forest Group in Coeur d’Alene, but opposed by an array of local officials in North Idaho who contend the extra-big trucks are unsuitable for North Idaho’s twisting routes and wetter weather/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Seems to me that Otter should have vetoed this bill and scheduled the hearings first. Hearings are an elected officials way of deflecting criticism. Heavier trucks will endanger lives further on already dangerous Highway 95. That's a no-brainer. Shame on the Legislature for passing this bill & Otter for signing it. Thoughts?

City Mulls Taking Over Old Highway

The Coeur d'Alene City Council open house meeting regarding the Idaho Department of Transportation's offer to give the city roughly 5 miles of Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive and $3 million will be 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 in the Community Room of the Coeur d'Alene Public Library. ITD no longer wants to maintain the old highway, and is offering the stretch of road to the city. Annual upkeep on the road would cost the city $13,160, according to the street superintendent, which the department said it could afford. The property up for grabs traces the old road but extends to water's edge in spots, creating public access to the lake, including an area at Silver Beach that the city has said would make a good location for a boat launch/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Would you like to see the city of Coeur d'Alene take over ownership and maintenance of Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive (the old Interstate 90 section that goes out to Higgens Point)?

Labrador Questioned ITD Policy, Too

Four months before Pam Lowe (pictured) was fired as director of the Idaho Transportation Department, then-sophomore state Rep. Raul Labrador helped defeat a bill raising fuel taxes by saying the only people he heard from in support of the hike were those with an financial stake in construction work. Lowe, whose wrongful termination lawsuit cost the state $1.3 million, said she was a victim of gender discrimination and targeted for trying to scale back a construction-management contract benefiting Washington Group (now URS) and CH2M Hill. Those companies had contributed at least $22,000 to Gov. Butch Otter, whose transportation board fired Lowe in July 2009. After the state and Lowe settled last month, Lowe told my colleague, Cynthia Sewell, that the $50 million contract has since morphed into $100 million for work ITD could have handled in-house/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.


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Sandpoint Bypass Dedication Friday

Idaho’s single largest highway project, and one that took 65 years from the time its was first discussed to completion, will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Sandpoint. The dedication ceremony will be held at 106 Bridge Street. Parking will be available in the City Beach lot located at the end of Bridge Street. The $100 million, 2.1-mile Sand Creek Byway will improve safety, accelerate commerce and enhance the community’s businesses by routing U.S. 95 through traffic by Sandpoint. U.S. 95 traffic has been winding around a series of Sandpoint streets since early in the 19th century.

Question: Did you ever think the Sandpoint Bypass would be built?

Ruling Elates Ex-ITD Director Lowe

“I am absolutely elated,” fired former ITD Director Pam Lowe said this morning, after a federal judge sided with her over the weekend in a key ruling in her wrongful termination lawsuit. “It absolutely vindicated me and what I had been saying, and that is that the board was happy with my work, I had done a good job, I had had nothing but positive comments from the board as well as certainly my formal evaluations, but that the board succumbed to political blackmail and pressure from John McGee when he ran that bill.” McGee, then chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, introduced legislation in 2009 to strip the Idaho Transportation Board of the ability to hire and fire the director, though the bill didn't pass/Betsy Russell, SR. More here.


ITD Losing $645K/Yr On Megaloads

Idaho has been losing $645,000 a year administering oversize-load permits including those for so-called megaloads, Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence reported today; the news came out when an ITD official briefed a legislative committee on pending ITD rules, which include fee increases designed to try to wipe out that deficit. “We're required to recoup the administrative cost of running the program,” ITD official Regina Phipps told the Senate Transportation Committee/Bill Spence, Lewiston Tribune, via Eye On Boise. More here.


Lowe Firing Costing $25K Per Month

The firing of former state Transportation Director Pam Lowe, and defending the resulting wrongful-termination lawsuit, is costing Idaho about $25,000 a month, the Idaho Statesman reports today, with the state's legal bills for the outside lawyers it's hired to handle the case now at $257,913 and counting. That's just for March through December. A trial in the case is scheduled for Aug. 8, and there are a lot big legal bills to come; last month, the state submitted a 5,400-page brief in the case/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (SR file photo of Pam Lowe)

Question: Could the Otter administration have handled the firing of former state Transportation Director more poorly?

ITD Lets Megaloads Roll Next Monday

Idaho will let the four ConocoPhillips megaloads of oil equipment start traveling U.S. Highway 12 on Monday, Idaho Transportation Director Brian Ness announced today. “I am convinced the record showed the loads can be moved safely, without damage to the roads and bridges and with minimal disruption to traffic and emergency services,” Ness said. “Every argument has been heard and considered. We can no longer delay this process”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Would you be yelling louder re: the megaloads, if they were going through a sensitive area in the five North Idaho counties, rather than scenic Highway 12 in north-central Idaho?

ITD Didn’t Seek Megaload Comment

ITD public involvement coordinator Adam Rush, under questioning from attorney Natalie Havlina, confirmed that ITD received a petition over the summer opposing the megaloads with signatures from about 3,000 people, opposing the granting of permits to ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips or any other corporation “to transport massively oversized road-obstructing industrial equipment on U.S. Highway 12.” Asked if he’d solicited public comments about the megaloads proposals, Rush said, “Comments weren’t officially solicited. We received many from folks and responded to them”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

H95 Now 4 Lanes To Ohio Match Road

The Idaho Transportation Department has just put out word that traffic on U.S. 95, from Wyoming Avenue to Idaho 53, has been switched to the new two-lane southbound alignment. The highway is now a four-lane divided highway from Interstate 90 to Ohio Match Road. A new local road on the west side of the highway, from Bentz Road to Lancaster Road, also has opened to traffic. The new road, called Warren Street, provides access to Tobler Marina, Gargoyle Granite, Little Tree Storage, Curwen’s Body & Paint and Joe’s Sandblasting/Kootenai MPO. More here.

Question: How often do you use Highway 95, north of Wyoming?

FHWA OKs New Post Falls Interchange

The Federal Highway Administration has approved a new Interstate 90 interchange to serve the west end of Port Falls, including a new Walmart store and the Cabela’s sporting goods store near Stateline. The Beck Road Interchange will be designed and built by Foursquare Properties Inc., the Carlsbad, Calif., developer of The Pointe, the shopping center that began with the Cabela’s anchor store. Foursquare will recoup the cost of the project through temporary suspension of state sales tax collections at the Cabela’s store. The state’s latest cost estimate for the project is $28 million/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: Do you think an interchange is needed to feed into Cabela’s & new WalMart?

ITD Agrees w/PETA Re: Warning

How often do you see PETA and the Idaho Transportation Department in the same sentence, let alone the same news story? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals regularly lobbied the ITD regarding the issue of leaving animals in hot cars, and earlier this month, Edward Pemble, ITD’s driver services manager informed the activist group that a warning will be added to the Idaho driver’s manual about the danger of leaving cats and dogs in parked cars. “Death from heatstroke is slow, agonizing and terrifying,” said PETA vice president Daphna Nachminovitch/George Prentice, Boise Weekly. More here. (SR file photo: Officer Ashley Brown of SCRAPS puts a notice in a car after she freed the yorkie from the parked car in front of Valley Village in Spokane Valley this summer.)

Question: Do you take your dog with you when you’re traveling somewhere? What do you do with your dog when you have to stop somewhere to shop?

ITD, Koreans Met Secretly H12 Mega-loads

Item: More large loads for U.S. 12 discussed by state, Korean firm/Betsy Russell, SR

More Info: The Idaho Transportation Department met in September with a Korean firm that wants to move another 40 to 60 giant truckloads of oil equipment across scenic U.S. Highway 12, and local residents who are suing over four other proposed shipments didn’t find out until their attorney filed a public records request.

Question: Can the Otter administration be trusted to protect the sensitive Clearwater-Lochsa drainage from a possible environmental disaster?

Graphic ITD Ad Targets Young Males

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is receiving federal money – and free television commercials – to educate young male drivers about the dangers of not wearing seat belts when operating vehicles and the agency is doing it in an eye-opening fashion. ITD released a commercial on Aug. 26 on YouTube entitled “Faceplant” which shows several pedestrians crashing their heads into the windshield of a young male driver before he, while not wearing his safety restraint, is rear-ended by a large truck/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here (beware graphic).

Question: Too graphic?

EOB: Idaho cars overpaying, trucks underpaying for roads

The trend in Idaho is clear, according to a new highway cost-allocation study presented to the governor’s transportation funding task force today: “More and more overpayment on the part of automobiles and pickup trucks, and more underpayment on the part of combination trucks.” That’s what consultant Patrick Balducci of Battelle Group told the task force just now. More here/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise

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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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