BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little kicked off the 2020 legislative session on Monday when he delivered his second State of the State address since taking office.
Little announced his top funding priorities for the year, including a $100 million budget for transportation and infrastructure to help maintain the state's roadways.
According to the Idaho Transportation Department, the $100 million budget is made up of largely state and federal funding. A portion of the money also includes federal relief funding.
“The emergency relief funds are for the Clear Creek area in North-Central Idaho where they were ravaged by flooding a few years ago and this money is to go recoup some of those local costs that were paid up front to take care of the damage,” said ITD communications director Vincent Trimboli.
The money will be also used for several road improvement projects across the state including upgrades on Interstate 84 and Highway 95, as well as bridge improvements on Interstate 90.
According to Trimboli, about $15 million will be used for the expansion of Chinden Boulevard to help accommodate the new Costco store that is set to be built at the intersection of Chinden and Ten Mile.
While every dollar helps, Trimboli says the expected $100 million budget does not chip away at the overall shortfall they face.
“Right now just to maintain the existing system we have, we’re about $150 million behind to maintain infrastructure,” he said.
After the governor's State of the State address, democratic leadership praised the initiative to address transportation funding. But Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett (D - Ketchum) says she hopes the Legislature can take that even a step further to address the continued need.
“I’m hoping the Legislature has the political will to recognize that and go forward," she said, pointing to the current transportation maintenance deficit. "And we’re not even beginning to address the amount of pressure we’re going to have from new growth."