Transportation will play an important role in a proposed initiative to connect northern Idaho and eastern Washington into a global marketplace. The concept incorporates the highway and rail international border crossing at Eastport, the Port of Lewiston, the Spokane International Airport, and portions of U.S. 95, U.S. 395 and Interstate 90.
Idaho Transportation Department staff discussed the concept with board members Aug. 16 during the board’s monthly business meeting held in Coeur d’Alene.
A proposed feasibility study for the Inland Pacific Hub: A Global Reach for Commerce would analyze the capacity for development of a globally connected, multi-modal transportation gateway and the potential economic impact such a gateway would have on the region’s economy, ITD staff reported.
The plan would identify and prioritize the region’s future critical transportation infrastructure requirements. The Washington State Legislature appropriated $250,000 for the estimated $1 million needed for the study. To date, Idaho has not committed funds to the study. Canada also is a partner on the collaborative regional vision for the multi-modal system.
Sen. John Goedde elaborated further on the concept.
The mission, he said, is to expand and integrate the regional transportation system to maximize efficiency, affordability, and safety. The region has significant assets that can be leveraged, such as the Port of Lewiston, which provides the lowest transportation costs from the inland northwest to the Port of Portland.
The Columbia/Snake river system carries 40 percent of all U.S. wheat exports and more than 60 percent of Eastern Washington’s wheat production. Eastport, Idaho, is one of two 24-hour homeland security ports of entry between Oroville, Wash., and Eureka, Mont. Nearly 20 million people live within 16 driving hours of the Hub.
Although his efforts have focused on working with the Department of Commerce, Goedde said he realizes the transportation department is a major player and wanted the board to be aware of the effort.
Other board discussion
Access management, Demosthenes said, is managing each point of access on a highway segment with the goals of limiting conflicts and providing smooth traffic flow. Access management also improves the roadway’s performance, reduces right-of-way costs and reduces crashes. He emphasized the need to partner with land use authorities to address access and the need for an efficient secondary system. Traffic signal plans also are important because signals reduce capacity and mobility while creating the potential for crashes.
Board members agreed that all land-use planning authorities would benefit from seeing the educational presentation. It directed staff to develop an outreach plan to promote the importance of and educate entities about access management.
to Public Transportation Advisory Council
She is Executive Director of United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County.
Because of limited understanding on the ethanol exemption proposal, however, there was not as much support for that concept, Henderson said.
Impact fees were not widely supported, however, there was general consensus that growth should pay for the transportation infrastructure, possibly through a highway improvement district or the Sales Tax Anticipation Revenue (STAR) legislation that was passed in 2007. Henderson said increasing the fuel tax does not appear to be viable in an election year.
Additionally, there appears to be support for ITD to do more work in-house.
Rep. George Eskridge (R-Bonners Ferry) expressed thoughts similar to Henderson’s regarding the feasibility of increasing the registration fee and implementing a rental car tax. He does not believe a fuel tax increase will be approved during an election year.
Eskridge expressed support for the design/build project delivery method and believes it has potential to save time and money. He also commended the ITD staff for the efficiency measures it is reviewing and implementing.