March 27, 1998 in Nation/World

Fed Funds Nearer For U.S. 95 Bypass Chenoweth Persuades House Panel To Insert Money For Sandpoint Project

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Sandpoint bypass project may get a $15 million injection of federal cash.

U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, has lobbied successfully for $25 million for two U.S. Highway 95 repair projects, including the plan to reroute traffic around downtown Sandpoint.

“A $15 million earmark from ‘ol Washington, D.C., puts a big priority toward the bypass,” Sandpoint Mayor David Sawyer said Thursday.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved funding for the bypass and $10 million for repairs to a stretch of Highway 95 south of Coeur d’Alene between Bellgrove and Mica. Chenoweth does not sit on that committee but persuaded its members to approve the funding.

House approval is expected next week.

The two projects are part of a House plan that would spread about $218 billion in transportation funding among the 50 states between now and 2003. About $9.5 billion is earmarked for congressional members’ pet projects.

The Senate is wrangling over its version of the federal transportation bill. Both houses must agree on a compromise bill.

Chenoweth spokesman Chad Hyslop said the Highway 95 projects should survive the committee charged with hammering out such a compromise because Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, R-Idaho, sits on that panel.

“He’s working to protect these provisions for Idaho,” Hyslop said.

Jeff Stratten, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Transportation, said it is unclear when construction would begin if the bill gets President Clinton’s signature.

“This is great news for Idaho, but there is still some action that needs to be taken before it becomes a reality,” Stratten said.

Construction of a new bridge over Sand Creek is a priority for the state Transportation Department. But the $30 million bypass has no funding except for $2 million for creating a master design.

Sawyer and Jonathan Coe, chairman of the Bonner County Advisory Transportation Team, agree the federal cash could speed up the long-awaited construction.

Sawyer said the federal plan includes two interchanges, which will allow drivers more access to downtown.

That’s a huge selling point to businesses that fear losing profits if traffic is rerouted from town, he said. Because the two ramps jack up the project’s cost, Sawyer said the state transportation department is unwilling to guarantee that design.

“It’s such an important aspect of the project,” he said.

For the six-mile stretch of Highway 95 that reaches from Mica to Bellgrove, federal cash would add lanes, widen the road and rebuild two bridges. The total cost of the project is estimated at $12 million.

“Highway 95 needs all the help it can get,” Chenoweth said.

, DataTimes MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition

This sidebar appeared with the story:

THE PROJECTS

About $15 million is earmarked for a U.S. Highway 95 bypass at Sandpoint, and $10 million is proposed to improve U.S. 95 near Mica south of Coeur d’Alene.

Cut in Spokane edition

This sidebar appeared with the story: THE PROJECTS About $15 million is earmarked for a U.S. Highway 95 bypass at Sandpoint, and $10 million is proposed to improve U.S. 95 near Mica south of Coeur d’Alene.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email