Exit in sight for GARVEE projects that transformed I-84 corridor

As the GARVEE program on Interstate 84 in the Treasure Valley corridor wraps up this week, the impact on the transportation system will be evident to motorists for decades to come.

I-84 Corridor

• Overview
• Quick Facts
• Video
• Audio 1 (Amy Schroeder)
• Audio 2 (Amy Schroeder)

GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds allowed ITD to advance critical infrastructure improvements. The new funding mechanism provided up-front capital to accelerate needed highway-system improvements. ITD pledged future federal revenue to repay the principal, interest, and associated costs. The approach did not risk the state's credit rating or increase government staffing. It was authorized by the Idaho Legislature in 2005 and the first bonds were issued the next year.

“The GARVEE Program has transformed the local and regional transportation system since the first project went to construction in 2007,” said GARVEE program manager Amy Schroeder. “Most notably here in the Valley, GARVEE widened more than 12 miles of interstate between east Boise and west Nampa, built a new interchange at Ten Mile Road, reconstructed those at Vista, Orchard and Garrity roads, opened western Ada County to commerce, and relieved some of the vehicle pressure on the Eagle and Meridian interchanges.”

GARVEE also focused on improving safety, mobility and economic opportunity for citizens and industry. Projects re-shaped the interstate and interchanges along the route, doubling the capacity for travelers, and creating a transportation system built to accommodate growth well into the future. In a depressed economy, it also created or sustained more than 13,000 jobs from 2005 through the end of 2011, according to Department of Labor estimates.

Approximately $365 million of improvements on I-84 were funded by GARVEE. When GARVEE was being finalized as a financing tool in 2005, population in the Treasure Valley had passed 500,000 and was expected to exceed a million by 2030. Meanwhile, I-84 remained virtually unchanged since it was constructed in the 1960s. Although there were just 16,000 vehicles per day using I-84 then, there are more than 100,000 using it each day in many sections today.

GARVEE also allowed the construction of these needed improvements now, instead of waiting for 30 or more years in the traditional "pay-as-you-go" funding model.

"Many of these projects came in under budget," said Schroeder, "and building when prices were rock-bottom has not only bolstered the community and industry in recent hard economic times, but provided much-needed improvements at a very reasonable price. These improvements will serve the Treasure Valley for many years to come."

Many of the projects in the GARVEE Treasure Valley program have received state and national recognition. Vista’s Single Point Urban Interchange design, construction and public outreach efforts received 14 awards. The Ten Mile Interchange, also a SPUI design, won a “Transportation Solutions” award and was featured in Aspire, a national magazine that focuses on bridge design and construction. GARVEE also received a “Zero Injuries” award for safety at various job sites.

In the words of key beneficiaries

As GARVEE winds down on the I-84 Treasure Valley corridor, some of the residents and businesses most impacted by the work have shared their perspectives:

I-84 traveler
Comment: “I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone involved with the improvements to our freeways. I moved to the valley in 1987 and immediately noticed the very poor condition of our roads, especially I-84. Often I remember having to drive east on the freeway and dreading it. The ruts, potholes and general surface conditions really were atrocious. However in the years since, our freeways have only gotten better and better. Even driving east recently I couldn't help but be impressed by the great condition of the freeway. I realize that improvements can always be made, but those that have been made in bringing our freeways to their present condition is truly amazing. Great job! Driving on our freeways today is truly night-and-day compared to the years past. Keep up the great work! Thanks.”

Feb. 2, 2012
Lee Galway, Meridian

"The improvements along I-84, especially those near Broadway and Vista, have vastly improved access to Boise State University. ITD did an exceptional job of managing this major project and the end result makes the trip to and from campus safer, more convenient and less stressful."

Feb. 13, 2012
Casey Jones
Director of Transportation & Parking Services
Boise State U niversity

Boise Airport
"The widening and resurfacing of I-84 and the redesign of the interchanges impacting the Boise Airport have greatly enhanced accessibility and increased vehicle capacity.These improvements benefit not only our airline and general aviation passengers, but also the aviation fuellers, cargo carriers, and the vast list of diverse businesses and tenants which contribute more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impact, supporting almost 16,000 jobs and injecting over $510 million in payroll to Southwest Idaho residents."

Feb. 15, 2012
Patti Miller
Marketing & Communications Administraton

Published 3-9-2012