Transportation: State,federal officials say few alternatives
now exist if May 25 ballot measure fails
By Lane Bettencourt
Idaho Press Tribune
NAMPA A Nampa bond election next month will determine
whether two road projects and economic development work can
proceed now or must wait for years.
If voters reject the $38 million bond, which would be paid
from local property taxes, federal and state officials say
there are no plans for alternative funding to come to the
rescue. That means the work would be put off for many years
in the future.
For a number of reasons, funding is considered a long shot
from either the state or federal government, the two clearest
sources for money other than the city. The Nampa Urban Renewal
Agency has helped fund a few similar projects in the past
like the 11th Avenue Underpass but voters have
told city leaders the agency should expire this year.
The most frequently discussed of the three projects is the
Kings Corner overpass.
Kings Corner is regarded as the city's most troublesome intersection.
Heavy commuter traffic on Amity Avenue is backed up for long
periods by trains blocking the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
Even though the busy intersection often comes to a standstill,
it does not sit on a designated state highway route so it
is not a candidate for funding from the Idaho Department of
Transportation. The state highway agency takes the lead on
most major transportation projects.
The state's congressional delegation has attempted
so far without success to secure federal funding in
the transportation bill now being considered by Congress.
Idaho is in line to receive about $28 million from the federal
proposal, but none of it for Kings Corner. Kings Corner alone
would eat up half the whole state allotment.
"It's not an easy process," Lindsay Nothern, spokesman
for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, said this past week.
Because the House and Senate versions of the bill are different.
It has been sent to a conference committee for the two chambers
to work out a compromise.
Nothern said if Crapo is named to the conference committee,
he will attempt to insert some funding for the Nampa project
there. But he said that might require bumping some other Idaho
project, which would raise objections from the area that gets
pushed off the list.
Nampa Public Works Director Paul Raymond said while there's
a chance the city could eventually get some federal funding
to help with Kings Corner, "there is practically no chance
we would get the whole thing funded."
Garrity plans in works
Unlike Kings Corner, Garrity Boulevard parallels the state
highway system, so it is eligible for state funding.
In fact, the state is scheduled to finish next month $3.3
million worth of improvements to the interchange where Garrity
intersects with Interstate 84.
However, that project is confined to the immediate area of
the highway interchange.
The Idaho Department of Transportation has no current plans
to reconstruct Garrity as it leads into the city.
"I can tell you it's not on our five-year plan,"
Molly McCarty, a Transportation Department public affairs
The future project funded by the bond would be designed to
bring the roadway to five lanes, connecting with the
existing multi-lane highway near Lakeview Park, with other
"We're grateful for what the state is doing on Garrity
now," Dale Dixon, spokesman for the city, said. "Now
it's Nampa's turn to pick up where the state leaves off."
Bond vote planned
On May 25, Nampa voters will decide the fate of three public-works
projects that have been lumped together in a single $38 million
bond issue. The projects and their approximate costs: