Idaho Transportation

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P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID 83707
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Board hears report on Air Transportation
Investment Forum

Bill McLaughlin, facilitator of the Air Transportation Investment Forum, recently informed transportation board members of progress made since creation of the statewide initiative earlier this year. McLaughlin presented a summary of activities Nov. 16 during a board workshop in Boise.

The Air Transportation Investment Forum is charged with determining the needs of aeronautics programs in Idaho and strategies for generating resources to meet those needs. It is similar to the Forum on Transportation Investment that is nearing a final report on funding options for the state’s transportation system.

Transportation board members endorsed the aeronautics study out of concern that available funding for airport development and air transportation in Idaho is not keeping up with demands. Air transportation is critical to Idaho’s continued growth as a major economic center, and to sustain a diverse economic base, Idaho’s quality of life, and an aging infrastructure.

Since its inception, the forum has gained a better understanding of the issues and needs, explored potential funding strategies, reviewed existing funding policies and issues, and is re-evaluating and revising the initial strategy.

The next steps, according to McLaughlin, are to:

  • Define the components of the state’s airport system
  • Involve targeted stakeholders in defining the vision and funding needs through working groups
  • Present the working groups’ findings
  • Package the results of the multiple airport type working groups
  • Identify funding needs and strategies to fund those needs
  • Finalize funding options for the airport investment plan

The forum anticipates completing its work in June 2006.

Other board considerations

Interchange site selection
After considering staff input, board members selected two locations for new interchanges on U.S. 20 in District 6.

A corridor plan on U.S. 20 north of Idaho Falls, completed in 2000, recommended eliminating a number of at-grade intersections to improve safety on the route. In accordance with that plan, an Environmental Assessment public review and comment period was held earlier this year on closures of the at-grade crossings and construction of interchanges at the Menan-Lorenzo Highway and Thornton Road intersections.

Based on the preferred alternatives from an engineering, environmental, and cost perspectives, the board approved staff’s recommendation for ML-A (Menan-Lorenzo) and T-G (Thornton).

Idaho Farm Bureau Delegation
Russ Hendricks described to board members benefits of Idaho grown, renewable fuels: rural economic development, increased fuel security and improved air quality. The Farm Bureau expects to propose legislation that would require gasoline in Idaho to include 10 percent ethanol; that the program will be market based, so it only becomes effective when Idaho produces ethanol; and a 2.5-cent blender’s fuel tax deduction will be removed, which is expected to increase revenue by $750,000 annually.

Headquarters and District 3 facilities
Following discussions on the Headquarters and District 3 facilities at the workshop on Wednesday (Nov. 16), the board acted on two proposals during its regular meeting the following day.

The board approved proceeding with the concept of three locations for the facilities, as follows:

  1. Administrative and Project Delivery Headquarters: This would provide office space for ITD strategic functions, such as the board, project delivery, and Division of Motor Vehicles, including a public access area. Potential partners for the facility would be Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, Federal Highway Administration, the T2 Center, and other state and local agencies. The facility would be approximately 150,000 square feet and accommodate 630 people. The desired location is close to the Capitol or the current Headquarters’ campus.
  2. District 3 Operations and Specialized Headquarters functions: This location would house the District 3 offices, operations, maintenance, and storage facilities plus Headquarters industrial functions such as administrative storage, sign and signal shops, training center, Ports of Entry supervisors, Division of Aeronautics maintenance group, Division of Highways labs, and some Division of Planning functions. Industrial functions of other state and/or local agencies are potential partners. The size criterion is 210,000 square feet, housing about 280 people, in the vicinity of the I-84 Orchard Interchange.
  3. Boise Maintenance portion of District 3: Approximately 11,000 gross square feet would be required for 10 people and would house the Boise Maintenance Operations, distribution, and storage functions. The recommended site is in the area of Idaho 44 and Idaho 55.

In a related motion, the board approved pursuing a partnership with the Idaho State Building Authority. The Authority would act as a developer for replacing and relocating the new facilities.

The advantages to this method include mitigating the associated profit and risk, which should result in lower overall costs. Legislation is required through a concurrent resolution, however, so a presentation to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee is needed to form the partnership

.Published 12-2-05