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Eye On Boise

House Transportation kills Senate-passed GARVEE bill for bridges

The House Transportation Committee has voted 11-3 to kill SB 1317, the bill that earlier narrowly passed the Senate to expand the GARVEE bonding program to also include bridge replacement or repair. Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, the bill's sponsor, said without the bill, the Idaho Transportation Board wouldn't be able to direct any savings from the bonding program to addressing Idaho's bridge-work backlog; the program now covers only specific highway corridors.

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, said the bonding program doesn't have enough to finish those corridors now, especially the Garwood-to-Sagle project on Highway 95. “Now, I do understand all you want to do is add to the list, but frankly, we haven't completed the list,” he said.

Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, a former ITD board chairman, said, “This is not the brainchild of the board, it's the brainchild of Meridian city and legislators. The board isn't pushing this.” Meridian residents spoke out in favor of replacing a freeway bridge in their city. Smith said, “This is a wish list of bridges that we'd like to get done all over the state, but is it something the Legislature should be pushing, or is that something the board should be pushing based upon their knowledge of the system, their knowledge of the bridges and what needs to be done with it?”

Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, said, “If there's a savings, my goodness, I'd like to see it go to pay down our debt.” GARVEE stands for Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle; it's a special type of bond authorized by Congress to allow states to borrow against their future federal highway allocations. The only committee members to support the bill were Hagedorn and Reps. Linden Bateman and Jeff Nesset.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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