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:
The forum anticipates completing its work in June 2006.
Other board considerations
Interchange site selection
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
Headquarters and District 3 facilities
The board approved proceeding with the concept of three locations for the facilities, as follows:
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