Board requests authority for $162 million in GARVEE bonds

The Idaho Transportation Board this week requested $162 million in bonding authority for next year to complete construction of highway improvement projects on U.S. 95 and Idaho 16.
The bond request is part of the GARVEE Transportation Program approved by the Idaho Legislature. The recommendation will be forwarded to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and would have to be approved by the Legislature. The program uses federal Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds to expedite highway improvements.
"This will complete the scheduled GARVEE program," said board chairman Darrell Manning. "The bonds will finance the completion of two critical highway projects. The projects will relieve congestion, improve safety and facilitate economic growth."
The Idaho Legislature has approved $693 million in bond authorizations to date. Approximately $626 million in contracts have been issued through November to design, purchase right of way and construct projects that improve the state's highways and bridges.
The GARVEE program will be completed for a projected $855 million, less than the $998 million originally estimated. This will reduce the transportation department's debt payments to the federal government from $74 million a year over the next 20 years to $60 million a year. The savings were achieved through efficiencies, value engineering practices, lower than projected construction costs and paying for the construction of the I-84 Vista Interchange with stimulus funds rather than GARVEE bonds.
"It is important the U.S. 95 projects are completed to improve safety and avoid a traffic bottleneck," Manning said. "The people of northern Idaho have waited patiently while the U.S. 95 improvements were developed and other GARVEE projects on U.S. 30 and I-84 were completed."
Connecting Idaho 16 to Chinden Boulevard is the first step in establishing a new north-south link to I-84, Manning said.
"As western Ada County and eastern Canyon County develop, the ability to move traffic north and south is critical to the area's economic development," Manning said.
The $162 million would finance the completion of the following projects:

• U.S. 95, Garwood to Sagle corridor, $79.4 million. Approximately 12 miles of U.S. 95 from Chilco to Granite will be widened and realigned to a four lane divided highway with new interchanges at Chilco, Bunco Road and at Idaho 54 in Athol.

The highway project will improve safety and traffic flow by removing several intersections and rail crossings. Construction could begin in the summer of 2011.
• Idaho 16, from U.S. 20/26 to Idaho 44, $77.9 million. This project will construct a much-needed new north-south highway to extend Idaho 16 from U.S. 20/26 (Chinden Boulevard) to Idaho 44 (State Street). Construction of this limited-access highway will include a new bridge across the Boise River. It is the first step toward ultimately connecting Idaho 16 to Interstate 84.
* Program management, $4.7 million. Funds the management of the GARVEE program

Published 12-10-2010