(excerpt from State of the State Address, 1-10-05)
Tonight I'm announcing an extraordinary opportunity to
enhance Idaho's highways, improve safety and expand commerce. It's a
vision I call "Connecting Idaho."
Who would have thought that in our lifetime that we could
be talking about a safe, multi-lane highway from the capital city, all
the way to the Canadian border? This revolutionary idea of "Connecting
Idaho" gets us a long way down that road, and includes long-awaited
and much anticipated safety and highway improvements to each and every
region of this state.
Up north, we fix the instant bottleneck on Highway
95 when you first enter Idaho from Canada
Then, from Sandpoint all the way to Coeur d'Alene
- a four-lane freeway - and those four lanes continue south all the
way to Worley on that heavily traveled portion of Highway 95.
We will finish construction on the decades old vision
of a safe, multi-lane highway from Moscow down to Lewiston.
My plan is to eliminate dangerous curves and significantly
realign hazardous stretches of 95, and we're going to restore critical
riparian areas and environmentally sensitive habitat. ...
... I'm proposing we fund a brand new 56-mile, four-lane
divided highway through Indian Valley, a project that has been talked
about for years. This will be a significant new artery to facilitate
travel between north and south Idaho. It will also get many of the
heavy trucks and commercial traffic off of Highway 55 in the most
safe and efficient manner possible.
This will enhance Highway 55 to become one of the premier, pristine,
scenic by-ways anywhere in the world and improve the recreational
experience for residents and visitors. ... In the Treasure Valley,
there are solutions to the growing traffic concerns. But those solutions
are years away and the congestion will only worsen unless we take
advantage of the opportunity that is before us.
We can bring Highway 16 from Emmett all the way to
Interstate 84 with a four-lane divided highway.
We can build six lanes between Caldwell and Meridian,
upgrade existing interchanges and add new ones to improve safety and
We can add new lanes and replace all the interchanges
from Orchard (Street) past Micron. ... We will issue revenue bonds
for the projects, using what are commonly known as Garvee Bonds. The
state will issue the bonds, and the principle, interest and other
costs will be paid off by using future federal highway dollars.
This will have no impact on the state General Fund, nor
our bond rating, and will still allow for construction and maintenance
projects on the Idaho Transportation Department's priority list.
Over the course of the next 10 years, we're going to build
three decades' worth of highways. I'm proposing we invest $1.6 billion,
and we do it now.
It's time we stop talking and start building.