Since January, one of Boise’s main crossings over the river has been cut off.
Nine months later, the public can again cross the Broadway Bridge — a $20.2 million, completely new structure intended to last at least 75 years.
The project could have taken up to three years to complete, Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness said at a Friday morning dedication ceremony. (Previously, ITD officials had cited a potential for 18 months of construction.)
By completely closing the bridge and putting workers on it around the clock, ITD was able to reopen it in nine months — just in time for Boise State football’s home opener and not a moment too soon for businesses on the south side of the river who said the closure hurt their income.
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Several officials representing agencies that collaborated on the bridge spoke at Friday’s ceremony.
Hundreds crowded together on the roadway to hear them, some on bikes, others on foot. Boise State University president Bob Kustra said the bridge was a symbolic and literal link between the university and the community.
Every week, Kustra said, “student-athletes will cross this bridge and walk into this community, whether it’s St. Luke’s, whether it’s our schools across the Treasure Valley and they will commit to young kids and anyone who’s in trouble and in need in a time of duress.”
Bill Connors, president of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, expressed pride in the expediency of the construction, but also urged the public to do something specific.
“Please, give a little business to these folks,” he said, referring to the nearby restaurants and businesses that were cut off from the steady stream of bridge traffic since January. “They need it.”
Kevin Martinez, general manager of the Ram Restaurant and Brewery, said his establishment offered deals and relied on regulars to keep trucking through the nine months of construction. But he was ready and eager for things to go back to normal.
“We’re real happy about it,” he said.
Chili’s manager Ken Brown seconded that sentiment.
“We are extremely excited for the bridge to be back open,” he said. “Not only for our lunches ... but especially for the tailgate season.”
Pita Pit’s owner, Nick Epler, told the Statesman in February that business was down 45 percent on Broadway Avenue, which had been his busiest location in Boise and Meridian. When the Statesman reached out to Broadway Pita Pit employees Friday, they said they were so busy they didn’t have time to comment.
Pablo Amezcuo, general manager of Qdoba, said he was relieved. His restaurant kept people coming by offering aggressive specials and appealing to bridge construction workers.
“We’re really happy that it’s finally back open,” he said.
Israel Salgato, regional manager for Qdoba, said he was optimistic business would be better than before the shutdown because the bridge has wider lanes and broader — 10-foot-wide — sidewalks. That, combined with the regular fall semester influx of students, should mean good things for business, he said.
“It’s going to have more business,” he said. “Much better than the old bridge.”