OPINION: Sustainable transportation funding needed to build Idaho’s future

Monday March 1, 2021

By Governor Brad Little

There’s only one thing we all want more of but cannot replenish – time.

You will spend almost as much time in traffic in some parts of Idaho as you would in Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles.

That time would be better spent at home with family, earning a living, or off doing something fun.

Imagine if you spent 20 fewer minutes per day getting to work or school. The value to citizens and businesses would be enormous.

Idaho is in the enviable position of having a historic record budget surplus. We are leading the country in economic momentum – a trajectory fueled by years of fiscal conservatism and regulatory restraint and by quick action during the pandemic.

Before and during the pandemic, we are the fastest growing state in the nation. Idaho simply will not keep up with that growth if we, as elected leaders, do not invest strategically and sustainably in our roads and take steps to preserve your precious time and make our transportation system safer.

My proposal to direct $126 million of Idaho’s record budget surplus toward much needed shovel-ready transportation projects is making its way through the Legislature right now. I appreciate my legislative partners for making it a priority. I’m also seeking tax relief and other strategic investments in education, water, broadband, and other critical areas as part of my “Building Idaho’s Future” plan.

Beyond making good use of our one-time record surplus on one-time needs, we also have an obligation as elected leaders to confront the growing list of unfunded transportation projects across Idaho with a sustainable funding plan moving forward. I am actively working with my legislative partners on a plan right now.

A sustainable transportation funding plan would address a number of unfunded and greatly needed projects in Idaho.

For Treasure Valley commuters, that could mean boosting safety and cutting down traffic on I-84 in Nampa and Caldwell.

For those in the Coeur d’Alene area, it could mean finally widening and enhancing the congested stretch of I-90 between the Washington state line and Coeur d’Alene.

For residents of Idaho Falls – another region exploding with growth – it could mean the US-20/I-15 Connector will be able to handle increased use for the next 20 years and beyond.

For Magic Valley travelers, it could mean tackling the safety and traffic improvements needed to cross the beautiful Snake River canyon.

The list of unfunded or underfunded transportation projects in Idaho goes on and on.

We’re proud of the incredible economic prosperity Idaho is experiencing, and we have a strong track record of governing responsibly.

Now, we must continue that trajectory by planning ahead and moving forward with a reasonable, sustainable transportation investment plan to facilitate commerce, keep Idahoans safe on our roads, and preserve your most valuable commodity – your time.

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