The Idaho Transportation Board today confirmed its selection of Washington Group International/CH2M Hill to manage the largest highway improvement initiative in state history - the $1.2 billion Connecting Idaho program.
At its Jan. 6 meeting, the board scored Washington Group/CH2M Hill the highest following presentations describing how firms would oversee the program. Today's vote was taken after department staff presented a report detailing the findings and facts of the selection. The transportation department staff is now authorized to begin contract negotiations with WGI/CH2M Hill. Final approval of the selection is contingent upon the contract and the board's review.
"We are anxious for WGI/CH2M Hill to begin working on the GARVEE projects," said Chuck Winder, chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board. "Their national and international experience will dramatically reduce the time it takes for the proposed GARVEE highway improvements to become reality. And with their experience in managing Idaho projects, they have the ability to start the process very quickly."
The use of GARVEE funds will improve safety, support Idaho's economy, grow businesses, ease congestion and connect the state's rural regions, Winder said.
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne introduced the Connecting Idaho plan and the legislature approved it in 2005. The highway projects will be financed through the sale of GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds that will be repaid from future federal highway funds allocated to Idaho.
The transportation department is required to obtain annual legislative approval for each proposed bond as part of its annual budget request. The first use of GARVEE funds will begin in 2006.
The transportation department plans to ask the 2006 Legislature to approve approximately $220 million in GARVEE bonds to support Connecting Idaho projects in FY 2006 and FY2007.