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Transportation Board Subcommittee on

 

Additions to and Removals from the State Highway System

 

January 19, 2001

 

Transportation Board Vice Chairman Jack Combo and Member Monte C. McClure, Local Highway Technical Assistance Council Administrator Joe Haynes, Assistant Chief Engineer of Development (ACE-D) Steve Hutchinson, Transportation Planning Administrator (TPA) Charles Rountree, and Secretary to the Board Sue Higgins, met at 3:15 PM in Room 200 at the Transportation Department, Boise, on Friday, January 19.  Senior Transportation Planner Garry Young was absent.

 

A history of the proposed extension of SH-46, Wendell to Buhl, had been provided to the Subcommittee members earlier.  The summary of the route covers the time period from November 1989 through December 2000.   Consultant Dale Riedesel’s presentation to the Board in December 2000, insinuated work on this route is progressing based on commitments made.  Members Combo and McClure wanted to know what promises were made. 

 

Member McClure expressed concern with funding this project.  Member Combo questioned the cost estimate of the NEPA process, which Mr. Riedesel estimated at $480,000 last month.  ACE-D Hutchinson said the cost for NEPA could increase if controversy is encountered.  If the Board commits to the NEPA process, he questioned the obligation to add the route to the state system and upgrade it to state standards.  He said staff has not identified the funds for this route and questioned if it should come from other major routes in District 4, such as US-93 or SH-75.  He also stated that if the NEPA process is completed, the next steps, particularly acquisition of right-of-way, need to continue in a timely manner because of the time constraints.  ACE-D Hutchinson said the District needs guidance on this route, particularly the funding issue.  He added that if the Department commits to NEPA, he believes the locals need to commit to acquiring the right-of-way in a timely manner.

 

Mr. Haynes reminded the group that Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between ITD and the affected local entities, signed in 1997, were developed to address these issues.  The MOUs outlined the various steps for the proposal to make this route a state highway, but Mr. Haynes realizes that funding is a hurdle.  He said the locals are anxious to proceed with the right-of-way acquisition.  He believes the locals realize it may take years, possibly 15-20, for ITD to upgrade the Wendell to Buhl route to state standards.

 

If that were the case, ACE-D Hutchinson asked when the system action would occur.  Mr. Haynes responded that the transfer of the route would occur at the on-set of the state making improvements.  However, he said negotiations with the highway districts should occur, such as local maintenance of the route in the interim.

 

Member McClure wanted clarification on the current status of the proposal to extend SH-46 and what the next steps are.  Mr. Haynes said the NEPA process is next, followed by finalization of the alignment.  TPA Rountree asked how the right-of-way would be obtained.  Mr. Haynes responded that the MOUs state that the locals are to acquire it, but ITD will help look at innovative ways to finance that acquisition.

 

Regarding the Department’s financial concerns, Mr. Haynes referenced the functionality of the route.  It has been identified as meeting the criteria for state highway designation, so he believes ITD needs to develop a funding plan, although he is not convinced that other routes in the District should be adversely impacted.  He added that the parties knew funding would be a concern when the MOUs were developed and that no funding source was identified.  He believes one option may be to have the route built to state standards by a private source, then leased back to the state.

 

Member McClure reminded the group that staff is preparing an item on this route for the Transportation Board’s March meeting.  TPA Rountree believes if the Board is not going to add the Wendell to Buhl route to the state highway system, no further action should be taken on this route.  If the NEPA process is completed, it would have to be re-evaluated after one year if no significant action takes place.  He added that right of-way acquisition is considered significant progress.  In response to Member Combo’s question on how long it takes to complete the NEPA process, TPA Rountree replied normally six to nine months.  It was also stated that if applicable, an environmental assessment could be developed that only addresses the preferred alternative, however, FHWA would need to be included in that determination.

 

Mr. Haynes questioned the location of the route’s southern terminus, in or near Buhl.  Member McClure said some Board members indicated a preference for the route to join US-30 east of Buhl, but he realizes Buhl is the destination for a majority of motorists.  Eventually, he believes a bypass may be desired.  The environmental process will identify the best location for the southern end of the route, according to ACE-D Hutchinson.  He added that the northern terminus is known.

 

Member Combo questioned the costs for NEPA.  TPA Rountree said a breakout of those costs, as well as those for right-of-way plans, would be prepared for the March presentation.  Mr. Haynes elaborated on the steps following the NEPA process: identification of a recommended alignment, development of right-of-way plans, and acquisition of right-of-way.  He added that there are not a lot of property owners along the route, which can expedite the acquisition process.  ACE-D Hutchinson said that $450,000 might be enough for NEPA.  Because the Department cannot use state money on this route, TPA Rountree asked if the locals would provide the matching funds.  Mr. Haynes believes the local entities would provide the match.

 

Member McClure requested that an overview of the MOUs, including what has been done to date and what the next steps are, be included in staff’s presentation to the Board in March.  TPA Rountree added that the Subcommittee should have an opportunity to review the packet before it is presented to the full Board at the March 15-16 meeting.

 

The proposed extension of SH-16 was briefly discussed in response to a recent letter from Senator Hal Bunderson requesting consideration of this project.  Mr. Haynes believes COMPASS needs to be included in discussions on this proposed extension.  He added that if this project is completed, it would result in pressure to construct the Indian Valley route, from Mesa south to Emmett.  He questioned the need for a corridor study or input from COMPASS.

 

TPA Rountree believes the SH-16 proposal is on the agenda for the next COMPASS meeting.  In response to Mr. Haynes’ question on whether the 2020 Plan includes the extension of SH-16, and/or an interchange on I-84 at 10 Mile, TPA Rountree replied that an interchange has been included in COMPASS’s plans.  He added that an interchange project is not included in ITD’s plans.

 

The meeting adjourned at 3:55 PM.

 

 

 

_________signed___________

Respectfully submitted by:

SUE S. HIGGINS

Secretary to the Board

Page Last Modified: 1/3/2005 3:21:50 PM

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