Transportation budgets sail through Senate

Transportation budgets sail through Senate

by
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
March 24, 2010
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
Author Image
March 24, 2010

The Idaho Senate approved the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD)’s next budget and bonding plan with little discussion and broad support.  ITD would see a $483.6 million budget for road construction and other programs.  Funding from ITD comes primarily from state and federal gas taxes.  ITD’s budget for the next fiscal year, which begins in July, is down sharply from its current $884 million budget due to a decline in federal stimulus money for construction.

ITD will have authority to bond $12 million for the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) program, which uses bond money for work on six road construction projects across Idaho.  Lawmakers who set ITD’s budget reduced the department’s bond request from $26 million.

ITD director Brian Ness said the bonding money will keep construction work going.  “Twelve million dollars allows us to stay on schedule for next summer, so we’re very pleased with that,” Ness said.  That bonding money will be used primarily to buy land for future construction plans.  GARVEE bonds are working on three construction projects in the Treasure Valley, as well as projects on U.S. 95 from Garwood to Sagle and Worley to Setters in north Idaho, and U.S. 30 from McCammon to Soda Springs in southeast Idaho.

“Land prices are probably as low as they’re going to be for a while, so it’s an excellent time to be acquiring right-of-way,” said Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene.  He said on the Senate floor that he was surprised there was little debate on the road construction budget or bonding.  “This is an extraordinary moment for me,” he said.  “It’s kind of frightening.”

Idaho Transportation Board chair Darrell Manning said the quick passage of ITD’s funding plan wasn’t a surprise to him.  “Everyone knows what it’s about,” he said.

The ITD budget and bonding plan now head to the Idaho House.

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