IDAHO's HIGHWAY FUTURE
Idaho has several projects on the drawing board to help meet transportation needs for the next 25 years. Let's just hope that it doesn't take 25 years to see them completed. Idaho legislatiors recently approved the use of GARVEE bonds to help fund the needed projects. GARVEE bonds are basically borrowing against future anticipated federal highway grants/funding. These bonds are being used to fund several key projects layed out by former Gov. Kempthorne's Connecting Idaho initiative.
Connecting Idaho started with a large list of projects that included making major improvements to the interstate system in major metro areas such as the Treasure Valley, Majic Valley and Post Falls/Coeur D'Alene. It included building new freeways like a proposed 16 extension. and widening of I-84 to 8 lanes from Caldwell to past Micron. it also included major improvements to highways all over the state in Twin Falls, Sun Valley, Northern Idaho, and in the Treasure Valley. Eventually the costs of the projects proposed started swelling with the increase in costs of raw materials needed and delays. Legislators came back and revised the list to identified the key projects most needed to address major roadway needs for the state. This ushered in the new GARVEE Transportation Program.
The GARVEE Transportation Program allows Idaho to have a way to pay for road improvements with anticipated future federal-aid. GARVEE is short for "Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles". The program lays out six specific target projects in the state. Three of them in the Treasure Valley, Two in northern Idaho and one in eastern Idaho. All of these projects are considered the highest priority, they are listed below.
|GARVEE Transportation Program Study Areas|
|Study Areas||Region||Key Projects|
|I-84, Caldwell to Meridian||Treasure Valley||Widen I-84 from Garrity IC (Nampa) to Meridian Rd|
|Construct new interchange at Ten Mile Road|
|Reconstruct bridges at Robinson and Black Cat Roads|
|Reconstruct interchange at Garrity Blvd/Idaho Center Blvd|
|I-84, Orchard to Isaacs Canyon||Treasure Valley||Widen I-84 from west of Orchard St to Gowen Road|
|Construct Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) at Vista Interchange|
|Construct Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) at Broadway Interchange|
|Construct new overpass at Orchard St west of current and realign|
|Idaho 16, I-84 to South Emmett||Treasure Valley||Construct new freeway/expressway from I-84 to current terminus at SR-44|
|U.S. 30, McCammon to Soda Springs||eastern ID||Widen U.S. 30 from Topaz to Lava Hot Springs|
|U.S. 30, Portneuf River Bridges and Topaz Bridge|
|U.S. 95, Worley to Setters||northern ID||Widen U.S. 95 north of Worley, and construct Interchange at ID-58.|
|U.S. 95, Garwood to Sagle||northern ID||Construct new freeway from Garwood to Sagle|
MY RECOMMENDATIONS AND VISIONS
These projects cannot come too soon to Idaho. Especially for the residents of Boise's Treasure Valley and North of Coeur D'Alene. these areas are seeing explosive growth and growth is forecast to continue at a rapid rate in these communities. If anything, Funding needs to be secured and expedited to facilitate an earlier start to these projects. Streamlining the Planning and Approval process to save time, and money. Fast tracking the construction with more aggressive deadlines and incentives to contractors who not only finish the job on schedule but do the job right.
Other projects that need priority attention are:
- Upgrading Eagle Road to a multi-lane expressway with flyovers at major intersections
- Widening 20/26 from Eagle Road to Caldwell to a 4-lane divided highway
- Widening SR-44 from Eagle west to Star to 4 lanes divided/continuous turn-lane
- Upgrading the interchange with SR-69/Meridian and I-84 to a SPUI
- Constructing I-284 around the the Boise metro area to west of Caldwell
- Upgrading SR-16 north to freeway standards
- Constructing a Freeway Spur from I-84 south to Twin Falls (I-384)
There are other projects that can also be considered to help Idaho's transportation needs long term. Such as an improved North-South interstate quality highway to connect northern Idaho and the Panhandle to the rest of the state (Maybe a new Interstate 11). But as before efficiency in study, planning, design, environmental, and construction are key to getting Idaho Connected.