The Idaho Transportation Department is moving swiftly to repair and add another lane on Interstate 84 in Nampa.
"Ever since we have let out of the Legislature by the way, I have probably been asked every single day when are we going to start working on I-84," said Rep. Christy Perry.
At its meeting in Lewiston Friday, the transportation board unanimously approved $150 million in GARVEE bonds to begin construction work.
"The GARVEE bonds just give us the authorization to borrow and it's going to be on future federal funds that come in," said Jake Melder with ITD. "So what we borrow today creates a debt service that we pay out for about 20 years or so for each bond that we issue."
The funds will allow ITD to widen and reconstruct lanes on I-84 between Franklin Boulevard and Karcher Road, add a third lane in each direction and upgrade bridges.
The decision comes just three weeks after the Idaho Legislature approved a bill to provide $300 million in Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonds for road projects across the state. Gov. Butch Otter let the bill become law without his signature. Despite some criticism, Otter said the risk to public safety was too great to ignore the problem with Idaho's crumbling roads and bridges.
ITD said this project will help reduce congestion and improve safety in the region.
"Unless you've actually driven this road and really understand how dangerous it is, it's hard to imagine that this road could have gotten to this condition but it has," Perry said.
“We recognize this I-84 corridor presents immediate safety and congestion concerns,” said chairman of the board Jerry Whitehead. “ITD engineers have shown a readiness to tackle the project and the board supports moving quickly to improve this section of road.”
The Franklin to Karcher project is on the fast track. ITD staff has already completed the initial planning and environmental assessment.
“We have known this corridor is a top concern that affects all of Idaho,” said ITD Director Brian Ness. “By adding lane miles, we can move more goods and services to businesses while reducing crashes. We thank the board for the opportunity to move forward as quickly as possible on this project."
That still leaves $150 million for other road projects. Board members are reviewing other corridors SB 1206 outlined for GARVEE bonds.
“As we determine which projects to prioritize, we need the best information on all applicable corridors,” said Whitehead. “We look forward to getting that data from ITD engineers and moving forward in future board meetings.”