Does ITD know something the Idaho Legislature cannot understand?
- If you are going to build it, maybe you should fund it first!
From The Idaho Statesman, Saturday, April 19, 2008, Local page Main 2
STATE CUTS FUNDING FOR BIKE PATHS, OTHER PROJECTS FOR ROAD MAINTENANCE
Transportation officials say the decision will free up an estimated
By Heath Druzin
Faced with a worsening budget crunch and little support from
lawmakers, the Idaho Transportation Board has decided to sacrifice
bike paths and alternative transportation to put more money into road
"It's just a realization that we have to prioritize our projects,"
Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Mel Coulter said Friday.
The board voted 5-2 Thursday to suspend programs aimed at alleviating
congestion and improving tourism planned beyond 2010. The board also
voted against accepting any more applications for such projects.
That means about 100 projects that include bike paths, traffic-signal
coordination and street sweepers that have been submitted but not
evaluated will not be considered for funding, Coulter said.
The projects include traffic-light timing in Downtown Boise, a
historic train-depot restoration in Nampa, and a proposed wildlife
crossing project to reduce car-deer collisions along Warm Springs
Avenue east of Boise. Other projects include programs to provide
transit for the elderly and handicapped.
The vote means an estimate $12 million more will go into pavement,
Transportation Department officials said.
"We are having to decide between maintaining our highways and
suspending programs. The board is not making this decision lightly,"
said Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning.
Some are unhappy with the decision.
"It really reduces alternative transportation options, especially
here in the Treasure Valley," said Sara Cohn, spokeswoman for the
Idaho Conservation League. "We have some pretty serious air-quality
Cohn said her group and others will fight to restore the funding.
"This is definitely not the end of the line," she said.
The Transportation Board vote comes on the heels of a legislative
session that produced no new funding sources for roads, despite the
transportation department running an estimated $240 million annual
deficit. Lawmakers had little will to raise vehicle fees or gasoline
taxes this election year. Instead, they ordered a performance audit
of the Transportation Department.
Gov. Butch Otter, who champions raising more money for roads, issued
a statement in support of the vote.
Heath Druzin: 373-6617