Saturday, April 11, 2015

Long Night at Idaho Statehouse Ends with Passage of Transportation Funding Bill, 2015 Legislative Session

Posted By on Sat, Apr 11, 2015 at 10:17 AM

It was past 1 a.m. on April 11, but Idaho lawmakers successfully passed a transportation funding bill, HB 312aa, in a 51-19 vote in the House.

The bill was hammered out by a conference committee including members of the House and Senate, who wrangled increasing vehicle registration fees and fees for hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as an increase in the state's gasoline tax. The bill will raise almost $95 million for transportation, including $63.2 million from a 7-cent increase in the Gem State's 25-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and $26.8 million from increased registration fees. 

The bill's passage was last-minute: The Senate voted 26-9 in favor of the measure at just before midnight, and the House took it up shortly after midnight, with both chambers adjourning sine die at after 1:30 a.m., ending the 2015 legislative session.

Several lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with the bill. According to Boise Democratic Rep. John Gannon, the bill should have raised fees on extra-heavy trucks, while Rexburg Republican Rep. Dell Raybould countered that heavy truck drivers pay more in gas taxes. In a Spokesman-Review report, others said that the bill simply didn't adequately address transportation issues in Idaho.

"This is about a third of the urgent need that's been identified to us," Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel.

Idaho Transportation Director Brian Ness told lawmakers in February that the state needs $262 million "just to preserve the system in the condition it's in." Ultimately, Ness said, "transportation in Idaho is underfunded by $543 million annually."
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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Benefits of Madison County (Idaho's Healthiest)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:31 AM

Idaho's healthiest county? That would be Madison, in eastern Idaho. Idaho least-healthy? That's Benewah, between Moscow and Coeur d'Alene in north central Idaho.  For the record, statistics were not available for Camas or Clark counties.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, is out with its annual health rankings for counties throughout the United States—measuring obvious health behaviors such as diet, tobacco and alcohol use, sexual activity and access to care; but the study also examines high school graduation rates, employment, income, housing and transit to configure the rankings. 

And based on equal weighting of length and quality of life, Madison County comes out on top, followed by Blaine, Lewis, Oneida and Adams counties. Madison County got very high marks for quality of life and health behaviors, where it came out first in the state.

Though statistics were not available for Camas or Clark counties, the bottom of the pack was Benewah County, with Lemhi, Shoshone, Clewater and Washington counties also ranking low.

Ada County ranked seventh overall, getting high marks (third highest in Idaho) for health factors such as its food environment and access to exercise opportunities. And Ada ranked first in the state when it comes to clinical care. But dragging Ada County (eighth in the state) was its physical environment, including air pollution, severe housing problems and the number of people who drive alone to work.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

AP: Study Projects More Derailments of Fuel-Hauling Trains

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:51 AM

The U.S. government says fuel-hauling trains could derail an average of 10 times per year, with the potential to kill hundreds and cause more than $4 billion in damage. The analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation comes in the shadow of last week's fiery derailment of a train in West Virginia, loaded with crude and sparking a week-long fire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of families.

The U.S.D.O.T. predicts approximately 15 derailments this year and more than 200 derailments over a 20-year period. The study indicates that if one of the more severe accidents were to occur in a high population area, more than 200 lives could be at risk.

But the rail industry is pointing to what it calls an improving safety record, dropping from more than 3,000 accidents annually to fewer than 2,000 in 2013.

The Associated Press reports that the projection of an average of 10 rail accidents per year came out of a transportation department analysis from July 2014.
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Uber Returns to Giving Free Rides in Boise

Posted By on Sat, Jan 10, 2015 at 9:30 AM

  • Adam Rosenlund
Uber learned that Boise has as much bite as it does bark when the city slapped the rideshare company with a cease-and-desist order on New Year's Eve and began issuing citations to Uber drivers who charged customers for rides after that.

Earlier this week, Uber heeded the city's warning and stopped charging for rides in Boise. Now, when users log onto the Uber app, they see this message: "We've reinstated free rides as we work with the City to create a permanent home for ridesharing in Boise by month's end. Uber on!"

A spokesman for Uber told KTVB that the free rides were brought back after the city threatened drivers with arrest and jail time. Uber has promised to foot the bill for any drivers who receive a citation from the city. 

The city originally issued the order after the company started charging for rides, saying Uber "ignored its own good-faith commitment not to charge for driver services" while continuing negotiations with city for an operating agreement. The statement from Boise City Hall stated that Uber was "essentially operating a business without a business license."

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Video: Protest Points to 'Unsafe' Stretch of Idaho Highway

Posted By on Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM

  • Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition

Motorists driving Idaho's north/south arterial spine were greeted Dec. 19 by protesters who want state officials to pay more attention to what they say is a particularly dangerous stretch of highway.

A group, calling itself the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, said it sent petitions to the Boise headquarters of the Idaho Transportation Department  and the Federal Highways Administration this week, pointing to a rash of accidents and fatalities on U.S. Highway 95 near Moscow. 

"Taxpayers are requesting that ITD lower and seek enforcement of the speed limit around Reisenauer Hill, erect reduced speed limit warning signs with weather-activated, flashing lights at both approaches to the hill, and install rumble strips in the center and fog lines, and in the traffic lanes before the warning signs, on this section of Highway 95," the PRDC wrote in a statement.

On Friday, working in shifts to maintain a presence from the afternoon and into the evening, protesters waved signs to motorists reading: "Danger Ahead," "U.S. 95 Unsafe" and "Go Slow, Live for the Holidays."

In particular, the group wants ITD and federal highway officials to focus on a seven-mile stretch in southern Moscow and Riesenauer Hill, which the group says is the most dangerous stretch in north-central Idaho, according to state statistics. 

A spokesman for ITD confirmed that the department had indeed received the petition on Friday.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ISP: Sleepy Truck Driver Slams Into Vehicles, Tangling I-84

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Boise's Tuesday morning rush hour was extra challenging after Idaho State Police said the driver of a semi fell asleep behind the wheel, triggering a pile-up at near the Gowen Road exit of eastbound Interstate 84. The highway was blocked for more than two hours, while motorists were detoured to the Eismann Road exit.

ISP said the semi driver drifted into a number of vehicles at the off-ramp, slamming into one car which in turn crashed into another. The semi driver was given a citation for inattentive driving and a driver of the one of the passenger cars was rushed to a local hospital. ISP said that the accident could have much worse.

I-84 eastbound was tangled for the better part of three hours but was reopened to traffic before 9 a.m.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update: Ten-Car Pileup Cleared on I-84

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 12:05 PM


Idaho State Police later reported that an Audi was traveling in the far right lane of Interstate 84 near the Meridian Road exit  when the driver attempted to change lanes to the left. But during the lane change, the Audi struck a Mercury Mountaineer in the driver's side rear corner, and then pulled out in front of an ABF freight semi, pulling two trailers in the number three lane. Another vehicle, a Nissan Armada was then pushed into a Honda Accord in the right lane.

ISP said the ABF's steering was believed to be disabled by the impact. The ABF then veered into the far right lane where it struck a Kia Optima and a cement barrier. One of the trailers then overturned. Meanwhile the Kia struck a Ford Escort and a Chevy pickup which was forced across the interstate. The Ford Escort also struck a Toyota Tundra and the Ford Escort struck a Ford Focus in the far right lane.

Three people were transported by ground ambulance to local hospitals.

The crash is still under investigation and ISP says charges will be filed at the conclusion of the investigation.

Update 12:05 p.m.:

The scene of this morning's ten-car pileup has been cleared, and traffic on I-84 has resumed for all vehicles.

Original Post 11:52 a.m.:

Thursday morning's rush hour became much worse on I-84 when up to ten vehicles tangled in a crash that turned the westbound lanes of the interstate into a parking lot.

Idaho State Police report that at least three people were taken to an area hospital—two suffered serious injuries. The Jaws of Life were used to pull one of the victims out of her car.

The crash near the Meridian Road exit, at approximately 8 a.m., resulted in all westbound lanes being diverted between Eagle and Meridian roads. One of the vehicles, a truck, was pulling two trailers and one of the trailers flipped on its side, blocking all the lanes. 

Traffic was still be rerouted from the area at midday as ISP continued its investigation.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Transportation Expert to Present on the 'DNA' of City Streets at Boise State

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 11:52 AM

  • image by James Lloyd
This was a big year for Boise's streets. From cyclists being struck by cars to installing parking meter sensors under the pavement, interest in Boise's roadways has been at an all-time high in 2014.

As cities like Boise continue to grow, planners and engineers must work to ensure that roadways keep pace, meeting not just the age-old requirements of basic usability and structural integrity but also 21st century challenges like ease-of-use and fulfilling the needs of a variety of road users.

On Wednesday, Dec. 10,  Peter Koonce, a transportation engineer who has worked in the public and private sectors in Portland, Ore., will speak in the Jordan AB Ballroom at the Boise State University Student Union Building. His talk, "The DNA of City Streets: Rethinking the Use of Street Right of Way," will illuminate the intricacies of street design dynamics and the impact on communities.

The lecture begins at 6 p.m. and is free to attend.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Two-Vehicle Crash Spills Off Road, Into Boise Business Parking Lot

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM

  • Boise Police Department
Boise Police officers were called to the scene of a two-vehicle crash near the intersection of 27th Street and West Fairview Avenue early Tuesday afternoon.

Witnesses told police that at approximately 12:28 p.m., a northbound blue pickup truck on 27th Street ran a red light, colliding with an eastbound semi-trailer on Fairview Avenue. The collision threw both vehicles into a nearby business' parking lot, striking a sign. 

The collision ruptured a fuel tank on the semi-trailer, and members of the Boise Fire Department had to pump fuel into an auxiliary tank.

While those involved in the accident reported minor injuries, no one was taken to the hospital. The pickup driver, a 25-year-old man from Meridian, was cited for running a red light, driving without insurance and driving with a suspended license. 
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Driver Cited For Running Red Light, Colliding With Boise North End School Bus

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

A driver from the Fruitland area was cited early Wednesday morning for running a red light in downtown Boise and colliding with a school bus filled with grade schoolers.

Boise Police were summoned to the intersection of North Eighth and West Hays streets at approximately 7:45 this morning. That's where witnesses said the driver's vehicle collided with a school bus that had about 25 children aboard. All of the children were reported to be OK after the collision.

After speaking with several witnesses, police determined that the driver of an SUV, 57-year-old Robert Maillot from Fruitland, had ran a red light and collided with the bus that was crossing Eighth street and heading east on Hays. The driver was cited with a red light violation, which carries a $90 fine. After the investigation, the bus continued to a nearby Boise school where it safely delivered the children.
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