Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blaine County pursues federal dollars

List of county projects identified for stimulus funds totals $4.6 million

Express Staff Writer

County officials have identified $4.6 million worth of road and bridge repairs they're hoping to get funded as part of a potential $825 billion economic stimulus package being developed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The six proposed repair projects stretch from the Bellevue Triangle to north of Ketchum.

Local governments in Idaho are required to submit their project lists to the state's Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, which is working with the Idaho Transportation Department on a plan to disperse the federal funds should they be made available.

Blaine County Commissioner Tom Bowman submitted the county's wish list for road and bridge funding this week. The list includes a $1.35 million reconstruction of a 4.2-mile section of Baseline Road south of Bellevue and a $363,745 repair of the Adams Gulch bridge north of Ketchum.

The latter project is needed because the bridge was built too short to effectively span the Big Wood River during high springtime flows.

"It's not wide enough to let the river run through," Bowman said.

Other projects identified by the county include reconstruction of a 3.6-mile section of Broadford Road south of Hailey.

"These are longterm needs that (county Road and Bridge Superintendent) Dale Shappee has identified," Bowman said.

The county's wish list seems positively humble in comparison to Ketchum's. Last Wednesday during a City Council meeting, Ketchum Community and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz presented a list of 17 proposed projects with an estimated cost of $105 million. Some council members admitted the list was unlikely to be completely funded.

A document provided to Bowman by the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council's administrator, Lance Holmstrom, states that 12.6 percent of the stimulus funds that Idaho receives will be made available to local highway jurisdictions. The document states that draft federal legislation identifies about $218 million in federal stimulus funds that would end up in Idaho.

Because so much is still in flux with the direction of the anticipated stimulus package, the deadlines for counties to submit their project lists aren't entirely clear, Bowman said.

"It seems like the state is trying to guess what the federal government wants," he said.

Information provided to the county by the council does suggest a first-come, first-served funding allocation in Idaho.

Despite the county's submission of its list, Bowman expressed some skepticism about how much federal money will actually trickle down to the local level.

Jason Kauffman:

County wish list

Here's a sample of possible road and bridge projects identified for the economic stimulus package:

Project Cost Jobs created

· Adams Gulch Bridge $363,745 36

· Buttercup Road, 2.98 miles $962,033 96

· Broadford Road, 3.6 miles $1.16 million 110

· Baseline Road, 4.2 miles $1.35 million 135

· Warm Springs Road, 12.4 miles $726,124 72

· West Glendale Road, .25 miles $71,534 7

Source: Blaine County Commission

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