Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter joined citizens, business leaders and government officials this afternoon to celebrate the opening of new lanes on Interstate 84 between the Garrity and Meridian interchanges. The project is improving safety, reducing congestion and creating career-path jobs to stimulate Idaho's economy.
More than 100 people attended the ceremony and watched as Governor Otter gave construction crews the signal to remove traffic barrels off the interstate to open the new lanes.
Crews were unable to stripe the third I-84 eastbound lane due to inclement weather. Weather permitting, the lane is due to be striped Sunday night and opened to traffic by Monday morning's commute.
The project widened and reconstructed six miles of I-84. It added a third lane in each direction and prepared the highway for a fourth lane that will open in 2011. The $113 million project, which started last year, is funded through federal bonds and is estimated to have created or sustained 2,000 jobs. The third lanes from the Meridian Interchange to the Ten Mile Overpass opened in August.
"This wider, safer, more efficient stretch of I-84 will help encourage not only Idaho's economic recovery but continued growth and new opportunities throughout the Treasure Valley," Governor Otter said. "It will help make our air cleaner while making our communities more competitive for businesses that are expanding or looking to relocate."
Approximately one-fourth of Canyon County's workforce commutes from Ada County, and about one-tenth of Ada County's workforce commutes from Canyon County, according to the Idaho Department of Commerce.
Joining the Governor in the ceremony were Idaho Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John McGee, State Senator Curt McKenzie, State Senator Patti Anne Lodge, Nampa Mayor Tom Dale, Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd, and Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning.
"I would like to thank Treasure Valley motorists who drive the interstate daily and waited patiently for these improvements," McGee said. "Much of that wait was spent in daily bumper-to-bumper traffic."
One mile of the third lane will remain closed under the Ten Mile Overpass until next spring to allow for construction of a new interchange at that location.
The I-84 Garrity to Meridian widening project is one of 13 projects to modernize I-84 from Nampa to east Boise that began in 2006 and is expected to end in 2011.
Idaho Sand & Gravel and Knife River were the contractors. The contract was finished on-time and on-budget.
Photos: Governor Otter uses a two-way radio to signal construction crews to remove barrels and open a third lane on Interstate 84 between the Garrity Interchange and Blackcat Road overpass (top). John McGee, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, talked about the importance of the third lane to commuters (center) before a crowd of more than 100 assembled for the Oct. 30 ceremony (bottom).