The Idaho Legislature is expected to adjourn this week.
There are still a couple of issues that need to be resolved. One issue that has a tremendous impact on Idaho and particularly those who reside in the Treasure Valley is transportation funding. We here in Idaho were dealt one of the toughest winters on record.
Making that exponentially worse is the fact that we have growing pains and infrastructure needs that have not kept pace with the growth of our state. Perhaps the most pressing infrastructure need we have is the widening of I-84 to three lanes from the Franklin exit in Nampa through the Franklin exit in Caldwell.
This section of road is in terrible condition, and this is also the biggest traffic choke point in the entire state. There is a projected cost on that project of $330 million, not to mention that an environmental impact study has yet to be performed from Karcher Road to the Franklin exit in Caldwell. The sad fact of the matter is that we just do not have enough money to make it happen today. Canyon County legislators have been united and relentlessly pursuing methods to remedy this situation.
There is a transportation funding bill that includes $300 million in GARVEE bonding that has been brought forth. It will appropriate the money to the Idaho Transportation Department to be used on the original GARVEE project list that includes the Meridian-to-Caldwell widening project. We are also expecting some much-needed maintenance done in the near future with the passage of this bill, and some preparation to widen three lanes out to Franklin in Caldwell.
This initiative, however, is not an easy sell to a legislative body that is made up of senators and representatives who represent 35 legislative districts with more than 12,000 road miles.
The arguments that have been made in favor of the proposal are that this is a critical access point into the largest economical center in the state of Idaho. In my mind it is an absolute embarrassment to have our roadways in such poor shape. It is also a major safety issue.
Our citizens deserve better, not to mention that the Treasure Valley brings in over 50 percent of all tax revenue for the state. We are going to need your help to get this transportation bill passed this session. I am asking all of our Treasure Valley residents to respectfully reach out to all lawmakers, including the governor, to encourage them to vote for the GARVEE transportation proposal.
Drop a short email or place a phone call to them and let them know just how dire our situation has become. I don’t think it is prudent to leave Idaho’s infrastructure in shambles any longer.
Idaho is a great state, but there is absolutely nothing great about the terrible condition of I-84. Let’s work together to get something accomplished this session. The time is now. Thank you for your attention.
Rep. Brandon Hixon, a Republican, represents District 10 in the Idaho House.