ITD conducts statewide meetings to improve
safety, increase mobility, grow Idaho's economy
Input is being gathered at statewide meetings on how the transportation department can best help the state’s economy reach $60 billion in goods and services, while improving safety and mobility on Idaho highways.
Meetings were held in April in Pocatello, Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Twin Falls and Idaho Falls with legislators, chambers of commerce, economic development associations, city planners and engineers, among others.
The role each region’s characteristics play in transportation were analyzed during round-table discussions. In Lewiston, those characteristics included an aging population that will need greater access to medical services, as well as the locations of homes and businesses.
“One of the things that jumped out at me is that a lot of homes and businesses aren’t on state highways,” said state Rep. John Rusche during the April 28 meeting in Lewiston. “Planning should go beyond highway routes.”
That planning includes documentation of what are called "economic drivers," the businesses or industries that generate substantial employment and profits.
At the round-table discussions in District 2, some of those drivers were identified as agriculture, higher education, medical services and tourism/recreation.
Jim Carpenter, the District 2 engineer, said commercial traffic and passenger traffic rely on certain roads.
“Ninety percent of your truck traffic is on state highways,” Carpenter said. “But when you’re motoring around for personal use, it’s on the local system.”
The round-table discussion extended beyond highway infrastructure to include the role the Internet plays in economic growth, and what some of the barriers are to quick and reliable Web access.
“Maybe a limiting factor is people not wanting you to dig in their right-of-way to install equipment,” said Laura Von Tersch, the director for the Lewiston Community Development Department. “There’s the farmer who says ‘heck no,’ and people not wanting to see satellite dishes on hillsides.”
Comments gathered at the meetings will be used in revising the transportation department’s Statewide Transportation Plan. The plan will create strategies to grow the state’s economy, improve safety and increase mobility. The economic component of the plan will support Gov. Butch Otter’s Project 60, which is an effort to increase Idaho’s gross domestic product from $51.5 billion to $60 billion during the next 10 to 20 years. Project 60 also is designed to create economic opportunities in rural communities as well as urban areas.
The next series of meetings hosted by the transportation department will be in District 3, beginning next week (May 10).
Photo: Laura Von Tersch, left, the director of the Lewiston Community Development Department, Mark McNeese, middle, an ITD planner, and Carole Richardson, right, a senior project engineer with David Evans & Associates, display
a map during an economic outreach meeting in Lewiston. At the meeting, roundtable discussions were held to gather input on how
the transportation department can grow the economy, improve safety and increase mobility in north-central Idaho.