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Legislature finds funding for transportation

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Aerial photograph of Sand Creek Bypass project by Jerry Luther Aerial photograph of Sand Creek Bypass project by Jerry Luther

A Seat in the House

I discussed briefly in my last article the funding for Idaho’s transportation program, both from normal appropriations and projects that will be funded through the GARVEE financing program. Because funding from both these sources has resulted in several projects significant to our area, I am summarizing the status of those projects in this article.

House Bill 285 passed this legislative session approved additional bonding authority for the issuance of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds in a principal amount of $162,000,000. GARVEE bonds are a financing mechanism for new highway projects authorized under the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 that allows state and local agencies to borrow money for transportation projects. The agencies repay the principal, interest and other costs by using future federal highway funds allocated to the agencies.

The 162 million dollar authorization included $79.4 million for additional construction for two major highway segments of the Garwood to Sagle project plus frontage roads for increased traffic safety. The two highway projects will complete twelve miles of four-lane divided highway from the Ohio Match Road (Chilco area) to the top of Granite Hill. This extends the project from the three miles of improved highway that was previously constructed with GARVEE funding from State Highway 53 north of Hayden to the Ohio Match Road. 

The U.S. 95 Chilco to Silverwood segment bid advertisement was published in April and bid opening scheduled for May 24. The contract is scheduled to be awarded the first part of June and construction will begin late June or early July.

The U.S. 95 Athol to Granite Hill bid will be advertised in June and the contract is expected to be awarded in mid-July and construction started shortly thereafter.

The two projects include three new interchanges, one in the Chilco area, one at Silverwood and one at Athol. These interchanges are part of the contracts for the two highway segments. 

The frontage road contract has been awarded and we can already see some of the clearing of right-of-way necessary to begin road construction.

The two highway segments, interchanges and frontage road construction is scheduled for completion by fall of next year. 

Because funding is not available at present to complete all of the Garwood to Sagle project beyond Granite Hill, several safety improvements for the Sagle area are being funded to help relieve safety issues in this area until more of the Garwood to Sagle project funding becomes available.

These Sagle safety improvements include”

• Implementing a 45 mph speed limit through Sagle

• Providing amber flashing lights with speed reduction signs advising the 45 mph speed limit

• Installing a southbound turn lane onto Gun Club Road

• Installing overhead lighting at Gun Club Road

• Excavating the slope northwest of Gun Club Road for improved sight distance

The Sand Creek Byway project bypassing Sandpoint is funded through the normal appropriation process that includes both state and federal highway funds. This project was scheduled for completion in the fall of 2012; however the contractor has submitted a revised work schedule that anticipates substantial completion as early as November of this year. Theoretically, we could see traffic on the northbound section of this project even prior to November to accommodate construction of the exits into Sandpoint.

Funding for the U.S. 95 Sandpoint to Kootenai Cut-Off Road widening project was approved by the Idaho Department of Transportation Board just a few weeks ago. This project will expand into a four-lane highway the current two-lane section of highway from the north interchange of the Sand Creek Byway to the four-lane highway just north of the Highway 95 intersection with the Kootenai Cut-Off road. Construction of this project will begin this summer with completion scheduled in 2012. 

Funding for this project was questionable because of the scarcity of funding for state highway needs, but thanks to a significant amount of support from the cities of Dover, Sandpoint, Kootenai and Ponderay, local agencies and businesses and the general public, the ITD recognized the need for the project and approved the funding. 

The Dover Bridge project is one of many projects funded through U.S. stimulus funds made available last year to enhance the nation’s economic recovery from the current recession. The project includes construction of a new four-lane bridge bypassing Dover and construction of a four-lane highway from the Chucks-slough area west of Sandpoint to the east end of the new bridge. The new highway section will include a turn-lane at the east end of the bridge to accommodate traffic in and out of Dover. The project also includes new pavement and rerouting of the Dover to Sandpoint bike-path that had to be removed to accommodate the new and wider highway segment. 

Even though we have and will continue to suffer some inconvenience during construction these are all major highway improvements for our area that will increase traffic safety and enhance vehicle traffic in our area significantly. As Senator Shawn Keough has stated in response to comments made by legislators and others elsewhere in the state relative large amount of funding approved for projects in our area: “We are just getting caught up with the rest of the state!!”

Thanks for reading and as always feel free to contact me with issues important to you. My home phone is (208) 265-0123 or you can reach me by mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825.

See more of Jerry Luther's incredible aerial photography here.

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Tagged as:

Idaho Legislature, Sagle, transportation, Garwood to Sagle, Gun Club Road, Sand Creek Byway, US 95 to Kootenai Cut Off, transportation funding, A Seat in the House, Dover bridge, GARVEE, Hwy. 95

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