$1.2 billion "Connecting Idaho" program goes on the books

May 01, 2006

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne on April 14 signed legislation into law that will fund the largest public-works project in the state's history, the $1.2 billion "Connecting Idaho" highways initiative. It authorizes sale of $200 million in grant-anticipation vehicle (GARVEE) bonds, among other steps.

The measure "will get construction underway to bring the state of Idaho together from north to south and from east to west," Kempthorne said in a signing ceremony in Nampa. "It's quite fulfilling that one of the final pieces of legislation I sign [will] be something I care so deeply about and for which I fought so hard." Kempthorne soon will go to Washington to assume the office of Secretary of the Interior. "This historic legislation will save lives, spur commerce and put Idahoans to work.

"It addresses some of the most critical areas among the billions of dollars in backlogged road needs in Idaho and envisions a vibrant, bustling economy from the Panhandle to the Upper Snake River. It's fitting that in the same year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of America's Interstate system, and President Eisenhower's vision for creating it, that we celebrate a new initiative putting Idahoans on better, safer, more efficient roads and highways," the governor said.

The measure he signed--House Bill 854--provides funding to make Idaho's highways safer and more efficient for people and commerce. It will fund $70 million in work on I-84 from Caldwell to Meridian; $45.6 million in work on U.S. 95 from Worley to Setters; $35 million in work on U.S. 95 from Garwood to Sagle; $30.5 million for work on U.S. 30 from McCammon to Soda Springs; $13.9 million for work on I-84 from Orchard Street to Isaacs Canyon in Boise; and $5 million for State Highway 16, from I-84 to South Emmett.