The Idaho Transportation Board this week approved the addition of a new interchange on Interstate 90 at Beck Road in Post Falls to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Support for the addition came during the board’s monthly business meeting in Boise Wednesday (Feb. 21).
Approval, however, is contingent upon passage of the proposed State Tax Anticipation Revenue legislation and a funding agreement. The legislation would allow an innovative demonstration project to provide partial reimbursement of private funding of an interchange project with future sales tax reimbursements by the state.
Two groups are willing to finance the interchange project with the anticipation of reimbursement from future sales taxes generated by major stores locating in the Beck Road vicinity, such as Cabela’s, Home Depot, and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also is required for the board’s action to become effective.
The project is estimated to cost $40 million. District 1 will have oversight of design and construction of the project, but no ITD funds will be used. Preliminary engineering will begin this year with construction anticipated in FY10.
Proponent Sen. James C. Hammond (Port Falls) told board members that he understands the department’s funding concerns and recognizes the need to creatively address the transportation needs. He emphasized the importance of the interchange to the economy and believes this proposal will solve several problems. He also emphasized that ITD will have control of the project without funding it.
Other board business
Aeronautics’ annual report
Sue Simmons, acting Aeronautics administrator, discussed some of the accomplishments of 2006. The division registered 2,400 pilots and 2,100 aircraft; it presented 10 safety and training seminars, two teacher aviation workshops and a four-day aviation career exploration workshop.
Use of the state’s the King Air increased from 223 hours and 513 passengers in 2005 to 234 hours and 537 passengers in 2006.
Equal Employment Opportunity program activity
Joint FHWA/ITD pedestrian accessibility reviews were conducted for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As of September, there were 206 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms working with ITD. During the year, 22 new firms were certified, eight were denied certification and 16 lost certification.
Federal Scenic Byway discretionary funding request
Funds are available on a nationally competitive basis for routes that have been designated as a state scenic, historic, or backcountry byways as well as All American Roads and National Scenic Byways.
The request totals $1.5 million. Some of the projects proposed for funding include a visitor center on the Teton Scenic Byway near Driggs, improvements to a scenic overlook on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway on Idaho 75 at Galena Summit and a traveler information kiosk containing six interpretive panels at North Lewiston’s Steelhead Park and Boat Ramp at the west byway entrance to the Northwest Passage National Scenic Byway.