Connecting Idaho, the innovative program to transform Idaho’s transportation system, took a major step recently with selection of Washington Group International and CH2M HILL as private-sector partners.
The pace will quicken in the next few weeks as ITD and the Connecting Idaho Partners add substance and form to their relationship and prepare to deliver a first bonding request to the Idaho Legislature.
The next step, explains ITD’s Connecting Idaho administrator Nestor Fernandez, is to create a contract that outlines roles, responsibilities, relationships and management of construction funds.
“We will work closely with the Idaho Housing and Finance Association to establish the process and timing for issuing bonds," he added.
“Our partners are ready to start, and we will need to work on multiple parts of the program at the same time," Fernandez explains.
“This (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonding) is new to the department, so we’ll be developing the details of the process as we move forward. This is the first time in the history of Idaho that we have used bonds of this type to pay for highway construction projects.”
The program administrator said he is comfortable and confident that the private-sector partners are ready to begin work on the program. “They did a lot of work and conducted a lot of research before being selected. They have indicated in their presentations that they are ready to proceed.
“We’re anxious to begin working on the program because we have a fairly short time to get ready for the Legislature.”
Legislative approval is required of the Connecting Idaho bonding proposal before it can be released to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association for the issuing of bonds. The first round of bonds is expected to be issued early next year.
A draft of the 2006-2010 STIP, including public comments, was completed this summer. The 13 GARVEE-eligible projects, as identified in Idaho Legislation, were included in the draft STIP as projects ITD plans to work on.
The STIP has been approved by the transportation board and forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration.
Projects that were included in the previous STIPs may be among the first priorities, depending on how far the public involvement, environmental and design processes have advanced, Fernandez said.