Gov. Dirk Kempthorne this month put his signature on
legislation funding the start of the largest public works project in Idaho’s history.
The $1.2 billion “Connecting Idaho” highways initiative
authorizes the sale of $200 million in grant-anticipated revenue vehicle bonds,
or GARVEE bonds, for the first year.
The funding program allows the state to borrow money against
the federal transportation funding received each year to pay for construction.
The sale is based on the assumption that federal funding in future years would
pay off the bonds. This allows the state to get money needed up front.
Legislators approved the Connecting Idaho program in 2005
and wrapped up this year’s session by authorizing the bond sales as the first
stage of funding.
“It addresses some of the most critical areas among the
billions of dollars in backlogged road needs in Idaho,” Kempthorne said in a
written statement. The governor said it will provide funding to build “better,
safer, more efficient roads and highways.”
Under the new law, previously HB854, some of the projects on
tap include $70 million for more lanes on Interstate 84 between Caldwell to Meridian, nearly $14 million for I-84 improvements from Orchard Street to Isaacs Canyon in Boise, and $45 million for U.S. 95 from Worley to Setters.
The first bonds for the projects are scheduled to begin to
be sold in May.