Idaho's population is growing according to the U.S. Census Bureau. An estimated 1.9 million people are living there, and the Magic Valley is seeing their numbers rise as well.
Seeing the population rise, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is conducting a study to evaluate transportation improvements to the Snake River Crossing that connects Jerome and Twin falls. The one solution they are seeing is a new bridge.
ITD officials plan to finish this study prior to the end of 2022 so executives can consider and present the findings during the next legislative session in January 2023.
"What we’ve been looking at is over the last couple of decades is the congestion around the city of twin falls, around the snake river canyon and the Perrine bridge has been getting worse and so looking at alternatives to create another corridor potentially,” said Nathan Jerke, project manager for ITD.
The last major construction effort for a Snake River crossing in the Magic Valley was the Perrine Bridge that opened in 1976. Since then, there has been major growth in Southern Idaho.
“It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and more people keep coming. It seemed like it was kind of that kept secret for a while. Unfortunately, it's kind of out of the bag but it’s such a beautiful area,” said David Helton, owner of B.A.S.E Jump the Bridge.
Congestion and traffic issues are the two major concerns to be addressed in this study as more people commute in and out of Twin Falls than ever before.
Recently the City of Twin Falls motioned to consider a micro transit system as state law requires any city with a population of over 50,000 is required to have a public transit.
“This would be significant for this region of Idaho. We haven't seen a brand-new crossing like this since the seventies when the existing Perrine bridge was constructed,” said Jerke. “Ultimately what we want to see is how another bridge crossing will make this valley grow and be more productive into the future.”