ITD prepared to manage stimulus fund projects
Our efforts to improve Idaho’s transportation system took a major step forward this week when the transportation board forwarded recommendations for use of federal stimulus funds to Governor Otter.
The board’s recommendations help prepare Idaho for an infusion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. Congress established the program to rejuvenate our economy through job creation and preservation.
The board’s recommendation will be considered by the governor’s executive stimulus committee, and if approved, it would be sent to the Idaho Legislature. The Legislature must give ITD and other state agencies authority to spend the additional revenue as part of their 2009 budgets.
As part of that federal law, Idaho will receive about $200 million – $182 million for state and local highway funding and $18.4 million for public transit-related projects. We have identified eight much-needed projects on the state system that can be expedited to meet the schedule outlined in the federal bill.
A portion of the stimulus funds targeted for Idaho also will be used to improve local transportation infrastructure in all regions of the state.
Our Division of Public Transportation, working closely with providers throughout the state, identified system improvements and vehicle purchases that will make services more accessible and affordable.
It is our intent to advertise and begin work on the highway projects within 120 days and position Idaho for the possible redistribution of funds from other states if any become available.
Obviously, the federal stimulus money will help fill a growing gap in Idaho’s transportation funding. They will allow us to quickly move forward on projects that we had prepared for construction but did not have funding available to undertake.
There is no doubt that ARRA funds will come at a critical time as we struggle with declining revenue from traditional sources, such as state and federal fuel taxes. But we cannot emphasize enough that these are temporary, one-time funds and are only a stop-gap measure.
Idaho and most other states still face a growing revenue crisis. Our inventory of unfunded system improvements will not evaporate with the infusion of ARRA funds. We continue to work with the governor’s office to emphasize the need for permanent revenue solutions.
In the meantime, we are committed to using the stimulus funds where they will accomplish the greatest good for Idaho’s economic recovery and for improving our transportation system. With your expertise, we will manage the projects efficiently and produce quality results in a very short period of time.