Following a comprehensive report on the GARVEE program and staff recommendations on options for continuing to move it forward, the Idaho Transportation Board voted to seek an additional $134 million in grant authorization from the 2008 Legislature. The board voted to advance that funding request at its monthly business meeting Thursday (Sept. 20) in Pocatello.
A significant portion of the board’s request to the Legislature ($61 million) would be used to construct the Ten Mile Interchange on Interstate 84 between Meridian and Nampa as part of the Caldwell-Meridian corridor. Also included in the $134 million request are: $47 million to acquire some right-of-way and replace the Orchard Street Interchange as part of the I-84, Orchard to Isaac’s Canyon project and $26 million for construction in the U.S. 30, McCammon to Soda Springs corridor, including a new Topaz Bridge.
As part of the presentation to the board, ITD staff provided an overall breakdown of GARVEE funds by category. Of the total $998 million projected program, $766.4 million, or 77 percent would be used for construction; $94.5 million, or 9 percent, for right-of-way; $86 million, or 9 percent, for design and environmental work; and $51.4 million, or 5 percent for program management.
A total of $144.7 million has been committed to date, with actual expenditures of $42.3 million.
The Connecting Idaho Partners, secured to manage the GARVEE Program, is performing 37 percent of the GARVEE-related work; ITD is performing an estimated 19 percent of the work and 40 individual firms and subcontractors are providing the remaining services for development and construction engineering and inspection.
Total construction contracts to date equal $72.4 million. The projects under construction are U.S. 95, Worley North ($39.7 million); I-84, Eagle Off-Ramp ($2.4 million); I-84, Broadway to Eisenman ($12 million); and U.S. 30, Topaz to Lava Hot Springs ($18.3 million).
Since 1977, according to a report to the board, the consumer price index has increased 25.6 percent while the national construction cost index increased 69.4 percent, highlighting the significant cost increase in conducting business in the transportation industry. High construction costs are projected to continue in the near future.
Several board members expressed frustration about the state’s revenue shortfall and the ability to address transportation needs. They believe the Legislature needs to increase funding to adequately maintain and operate the existing system, and begin addressing the backlog of identified expansion projects.
Board members again discussed the need for additional revenue – beyond GARVEE funding – to keep pace with growth and demand.
Other board business
A Comprehensive Study of Fee Structures is being conducted on vehicles that exceed 16,000 pounds. The current system is based on the maximum registered vehicle weight and six mileage categories. Fee comparisons were made with surrounding states. Registration fees and taxes for five-axle intrastate vehicles traveling 50,000 miles per year averaged $5,052, while Idaho’s was only $4,581. In comparing costs for 105,500 pound vehicles traveling in-state, the average of the surrounding states was $6,286, with Idaho’s costs below the average at approximately $5,750.
The Surface Transportation Needs Assessment, in the process of being updated, indicates the state’s total highway, bridge and public transportation needs from 2006 through 2030 are $26.95 billion, or $1.2 billion annually. The study includes operations, maintenance and expansion, but no investment strategy.
The study uses minimally tolerable conditions for system maintenance and operations as the basis for modeling and estimation. The maintenance and preservation needs are estimated at $12.37 billion, with upgrades and expansion comprising the remaining $14.58 billion.
The Highway Cost Allocation Study, last updated in 2002, also is being updated and will include a state-by-state comparison. Preliminary data indicates Idaho’s annual motor vehicle registration fees combined with fuel taxes paid annually are below the national average when compared to surrounding states. The average is approximately $353, while Idaho’s is $223.
It was noted that some surrounding states have non-highway user revenue dedicated to fund transportation. Idaho also is being compared to peer states. Peer states were identified using factors such as population, lane miles, annual vehicle miles of travel and personal income.
Based on these criteria, Idaho’s peer states are Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Maine. In this comparison, Idaho’s annual registration fees and fuel taxes are also below the average of $370.