Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law this week a bill that adds an innovative funding alternative for construction of qualifying interchanges and highway improvements.
House Bill 250, sponsored by Representatives Lawrence Denney, R-Midvale, Mike Moyle, R-Star, Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, and Senator Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, creates a State Tax Anticipation Revenue (STAR) program that compensates developers who pay for interchanges or highway improvements that access new commercial/retail complexes.
Improvements qualifying for the STAR program must exceed $8 million in value and include such facilities as freeway interchanges, on- and off-ramps, overpass and underpass improvements, traffic signals, improvements of connecting highways and right-of-way acquisition. The improvements can occur on federal interstate routes as well as highways defined by law in Idaho.
Foursquare Properties, Inc., a California development company, provided the impetus for the new program when it proposed funding a new Interstate 90 interchange near Post Falls. The interchange would provide access to a new retail complex. Foursquare hopes to attract Nebraska-based Cabela’s, a national sporting goods retailer, to the complex.
“The purpose of the legislation,” according to sponsors, “is to establish a new method of financing transportation infrastructure projects using the State Tax Anticipation Revenue concept.”
Developers of retail/commercial complexes, valued at more than $4 million, where tangible goods or taxable services are provided would pay for the interchanges or highway improvements, up to $35 million, and apply for a rebate of sales taxes paid on purchases at the site.
Projects must be compatible with local planning efforts, be integrated into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program and receive local agency, ITD and Federal Highway Administration approval, as required.
Interchange construction is not limited to interstate highways, explains ITD Director Pam Lowe. “The STAR program can be used by developers anywhere in the state for interchanges, highway improvements and auxiliary facilities like additional highway lanes.”
“The new funding option makes a lot of sense. It can expedite projects that are important to an area’s economic development without requiring a major up-front investment by the transportation department. The STAR program will become another tool at our disposal as we continue to look for innovative ways to fund highway projects.”