New river crossing will open door to expanded highway corridor

A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday celebrated the beginning of the Idaho 16 Boise River Crossing (work starts May 29) and the connection of State Street to Chinden Boulevard. The event also advocated for the remainder of the Central Valley Expressway, as supporters have come to call it, extending Idaho 16 south to Interstate 84.

There are very few crossings of the Boise River in that area. The most recent, the North and South Channel bridges on Linder Road, was built in the early '90s.

More than 150 people attended the groundbreaking on the long-awaited first stage of construction. Featured speakers were Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Idaho Sen. Chuck Winder, Central Valley Expressway Coalition (CVEC) Chairman Mary May, and ITD Board Chairman Jerry Whitehead who served as event emcee. CVEC sponsored the event.

See video coverage of the groundbreaking.

The two-year project was hailed by supporters as an important step for commerce, convenience and safety which support Gov. Otter's emphasis on statewide economic development, and ITD's strategic plan. An estimated 22,000 drivers are expected to use the new 1,700-foot bridge daily .

"After several years of hard work, CVEC is incredibly excited to see phase one of the Highway 16 extension commence," May said. "With the economic benefits to be gained from this corridor, including significant projected new revenue for the state of Idaho, this project isn't just about building a road - it's about building the future of Idaho. We're excited for the project to begin and to see it through to completion, all the way to I-84."

“As western Ada, eastern Canyon, and southern Gem counties develop, the ability to move north-south traffic is a primary concern,” explained Amy Schroeder, ITD's GARVEE program manager. GARVEE also funded design and development of the Idaho 16 route.

Sen. Winder said “as the surrounding counties and communities continue to develop – and this bridge is expected to expedite that development; having another north-south option for traffic will be critically important.“

Economic opportunity and growth, the aim of Gov. Otter’s initiatives, were mentioned frequently by speakers. May said the bridge will provide a critical option for the 70 percent of Gem County’s workforce that commutes outside of the county for jobs.

Published 5-25-2012