“Our audit team strongly believes that the current ITD funding is insufficient to maintain the state highway program,” auditor Mike Huddleston told lawmakers, summing up the findings of an extensive audit of Idaho’s Transportation Department that’s just being unveiled today. Furthermore, the audit found that construction costs are increasing faster than inflation; a comprehensive statewide strategy is lacking; more business and financial planning are needed; department programs are “generally reactive, lacking a long-term infrastructure management plan;” better planning and a uniform selection process are needed for capital projects; the department could better use available technology for management of complex maintenance needs; and other measures could improve project and consultant management. The auditors, Huddleston said, also analyzed the governor’s proposal for more revenue, and determined that the additional revenue “is merited and may even be understated in terms of the need in the state.”
They also found that Idaho could save by better maintaing its roads. “There literally are hundreds of millions that can be saved by maintaining your current assets in better condition,” rather than having to replace them, Huddleston said. The audit also concluded that if its recommendations are followed, the state could save up to $19.6 million in one-time savings and more than $11 million over five years, with an annual $6.6 million savings thereafter. That’s not counting “cost avoidance” through extending the life of existing roads through better maintenance.