the children shall lead
A vision to provide a free-flowing, efficient conduit for commuters and interstate traffic in the heart of southwest Idaho has become reality. Guests assembled near the confluence of Interstate 84 and I-184 Friday, June 11, to celebrate the final milestone of Idaho's largest road construction project.
With words of wisdom and the brushstrokes of children and dignitaries, the $86 million WYE project was pronounced finished. Shortly after the ceremony was over, crews began removing barriers to open the new, longer and safer Cole/Overland exit ramp and restore I-84 traffic to its original patterns.
By Saturday morning, eastbound traffic flowed smoothly over the new surface with inside lanes dedicated to city center traffic and outside lanes continuing on to the Boise Airport, Mountain Home and points east. Monday morning commuter traffic adjusted without complications to the major traffic switch.
During the ceremony, Rep. C.L. Butch Otter, Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and ITD Director Dave Ekern extolled the virtues of an integrated transportation system and the critical partnership of federal, state and local entities. Behind them, shielded by a line of concrete barriers and down a steep slope, all shapes, sizes and colors of vehicles streaked past, unaware that they were momentarily part of a celebration.
About 25 children of highway construction workers ranging from preschool to teenagers waited patiently on the front of the stage to begin their assigned task. Adorned by bright orange vests and sunny yellow hardhats, the children concluded the half-hour dedication ceremony by wielding ceremonial paintbrushes and leaving an indelible mark for posterity.
Dignitaries knelt side-by-side with the children to paint four fresh white lane stripes on the concrete surface. Their brushstrokes were accompanied by highway-related music, such as Hit the Road Jack.
The WYE Stage II project included:
More than 125 dedication participants (including Boise
Mayor David Bieter, Meridian Mayor Tammy DeWeerd and Eagle Mayor Nancy
Merrill) were transported to the ceremony site by ValleyRide buses and
Ada County Highway Districts Commuteride vans.