Board considers options to address
Concerned about the escalating costs of right-of-way acquisition, the Idaho Transportation Board last week reviewed possible legislative and procedural remedies presented by staff members. The board met in Twin Falls Thursday (May 22) following a tour of District 4 the previous day.
Of particular concern is the increasing value of private property the department needs to acquire for construction projects. Often the rising market value is a result of improvements ITD’s projects will create. Increases in fair market value that are based on future improvements, according to federal regulations, cannot be used to calculate the land value during right-of-way acquisition.
That federal regulation sometimes is disregarded by juries when acquisition results in a legal challenge.
Board members had a number of questions and engaged in an extensive discussion on topics related to right-of-way acquisition, including the recognition of property owners’ rights and the ability to re-design a project to avoid high right-of-way costs.
ITD staff members proposed a number of recommendations to address the concerns, most of which were legislative remedies. The board fully supported proceeding with the legislative concepts. Some of the proposals would revise existing Idaho law to require that property valuation, for purposes of eminent domain, should be based upon appraisals by qualified appraisers and that interest would not begin accruing until either property is purchased or obtained by judgment.
A new provision to address the equitable fee limit in small cases is another idea to be pursued.
Forest Highway Program
No project delivery changes or additions to the program occurred since the transportation board last reviewed the program in January. A request for new projects is not expected in the next couple of years because projects and funding already are programmed. The average annual funding is approximately $14 million, all of which comes from federal sources.
The board approved the program that includes improvements to Salmon River Road near Riggins, reconstruction of the Ketchum-Challis Highway, reconstruction of Fernan Lake Road, and an overlay on Cascade-Warm Lake Road.
Public Transportation Advisory Council Report
Idaho’s Mobility and Access Pathway, introduced during a recent public transportation conference in Boise, was developed as part of PTAC’s strategic plan. It defines the vision for mobility and describes a new paradigm for mobility services based on a premise called “mobility management.” Under that strategy, emphasis is placed on how best to move people instead of focusing on a particular mode of transportation.
Herring said he was proud to be part of this statewide coordination effort, which he believes is progressive and will be very beneficial to Idaho.
Herring also mentioned that terms of two PTAC members expire next month. The council supports the re-appointment of both current members.
Connecting Idaho Partners’ Contract
Negotiations with CIP have been under way for a supplemental contract to provide management and oversight for the additional $250 million authorized by the legislature in 2007.
At its May meeting, the board approved the Connecting Idaho Program Manager Funding Authorization #2 contract documents. The contract includes incentives for cost savings, successful delivery of projects and exceptional performance provisions in areas such as innovation and quality. ITD will continue to do as much GARVEE-related work as possible with state personnel.