Governor Brad Little (R) (seen above) signed a key part of his “Leading Idaho” plan into law on March 17; a bill that provides “hundreds of millions” in new transportation funding to help clear out one-third of Idaho’s bridge maintenance backlog.
[Above photo via the Idaho Governor’s Office]
Officially known as Senate Bill 1359, the now-signed bill includes $200 million for local bridges, $6 million for air, $8 million for rail, $18 million to pay off debt for GARVEE bond-funded projects, $10 million for safe pedestrian crossings, and $10 million to build out a road at the Port of Lewiston.
“We are taking advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully fund known transportation needs – to maintain our roads and bridges permanently – with no new taxes,” the governor said in a statement.
“Last year, together we passed the largest transportation funding package in state history, and we did it without raising taxes. But we did not stop there,” he added.
“We cannot continue our record economic trajectory if our logging trucks can’t get across old bridges or we can’t get our farm products to market,” the governor noted. “This bill invests another $200 million in one-time funding to clear out one-third of the backlog of deficient bridges, and we are closing in on another $200 million in ongoing funding to fully address our known maintenance needs locally and statewide.”
That second tranche of $200 million mentioned by the governor would focus largely on supporting the state’s road maintenance needs. The governor’s office added the signing of that second transportation-funding bill should happen “in the coming days.”
The Idaho Transportation Department is currently ramping up to invest funds authorized by the passage of Gov. Little’s “Building Idaho’s Future” program in March 2021. That effort follows approval by the Idaho Transportation Board in May 2021 of $350 million construction work plan expected to shift into high gear sometime in 2022; a plan that includes $140 million worth of one-time funding.