system on threshold
Progress is never achieved by standing still. No one understands that better than those of us involved in the transportation business – moving forward is fundamental to our mission. Today we have the unique opportunity to transform transportation in Idaho and move the state ahead farther and faster than we ever thought possible.
In his farsighted State of the State message, Governor Kempthorne outlined a bold new initiative that re-establishes transportation as a statewide priority. “Connecting Idaho,” will provide the tools and the direction we need to unite citizens and communities, link businesses and stimulate the economy, open the door to Idaho’s incredible beauty and build on its limitless recreational opportunities. The initiative will secure a place for transportation in Idaho’s future by building on its place in history.
At the heart of the governor’s plan is the ability to advance needed and long-planned highway construction projects by decades using Grant Revenue Anticipation Vehicle (GARVEE) bonding. This program will enable us to leverage future federal funds to expedite much needed system expansion and improvement. Projects that have languished on the drawing board for years will be transformed into asphalt and concrete. Future needs will be addressed today.
13 investments in seven corridors across the state:
GARVEE bonding will enable us to invest $1.6 billion in the transportation system over the next decade, creating more than 75,000 jobs now and generating an estimated $9 billion economic benefit for Idaho… all with no tax increases or additional costs to Idaho citizens. Using bonds to pay for transportation system expansion and improvement is a new concept in Idaho, yet it has an established track record. Sixteen other states use GARVEE bonds to fund transportation projects. We will learn from their experience and build on their successes.
The risk is minimal. The bonds would be issued by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, which already administers bonds for many major projects in Idaho. Our ability to repay the bonds is secure, based on a portion of the annual funds we receive through the federal transportation bill. Our department’s board of directors will determine annually – based on the prevailing economy – how much to bond and which projects to undertake. The future is preserved. Only a portion of our federal appropriation will be used to retire bonds, enabling us to apply the balance of the annual funds.
We are fortunate to be part of a dynamic state agency at a pivotal point in Idaho history. I can think of no place more exciting to be, no role more challenging to assume, no job more rewarding to undertake than to create this legacy for generations to come.
Over the coming weeks we will continue to keep you informed about the progress of the governor’s proposal and share with you highlights about the corridors that will be improved. If you have questions or ideas, please e-mail me and we will try to get you an early response.