Opening of new Idaho 16 extension and bridge features skydivers,
As many as 300 people came out to celebrate the completion of a massive new bridge across the Boise River and the extension of Idaho 16 south from State Street (Idaho 44) to a connection with Chinden Blvd (U.S. 20/26) on Friday (Aug. 15) at a formal ribbon cutting.
The event opened with skydivers and then featured speeches from former Idaho State Senator Kathy Skippen, current Idaho State Senator Chuck Winder, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. A reception followed the ceremony. The event, spearheaded and funded by the Central Valley Expressway Coalition, was emceed by Julie DeLorenzo, Idaho Transportation Board member.
“We are here to celebrate a great project that will open up a large section of western Ada County and eastern Canyon County, as well as Gem County for future economic development and growth,” said Gov. Otter.
Skippen, who was a driving force behind an extension of the highway and ambassador for the project in her former position, was the first to speak, focusing on what GARVEE has meant in terms of safety. Next to speak was Winder, a former Idaho Transportation Board chairman. Winder had a unique, inside look at the beginning of project discussions, and as representative of the people for the last several years, has fielded countless constituent questions. The final speakers were Lt. Gov. Little and Gov. Otter, who framed the project in terms of the importance of keeping up with or ahead of addressing infrastructure needs of the growing Treasure Valley, the economic development and practical day-to-day advantages of extending Idaho 16, and commitment to the project.
“This project is also a reminder that in order to move forward we need to invest wisely in our roads and bridges and an aging infrastructure,” Gov. Otter added.
At the conclusion of the event, Valley Corvettes provided rides for the event speakers, elected representatives and community leaders as the first group to cross the new bridge and drive on the new Idaho 16 alignment. The new route will officially open to traffic prior to the evening’s commute.
With the huge bridge across the Boise River and the connections to State and Chinden complete, supporters quickly turned their attention to a vision of the highway eventually connecting Emmett with Interstate 84.