Governor Brad Little is demanding answers from the Idaho Transportation Department after BoiseDev published the results of a six-month-long investigation Tuesday.
The investigation centered around ITD’s construction zone on Highway 55 near Smith’s Ferry and the three major landslides that have occurred there. The story uncovered significant new information about the project, including warning signs of slope instability that were ignored, the project being millions over budget, and other findings.
Wednesday, BoiseDev asked Gov. Brad Little’s office for comment on the story. The governor’s press secretary, Madison Hardy, provided a letter the governor sent to the chair of the ITD board Bill Moad and department director Scott Stokes, Director.
Little writes at the top of the letter that “public safety is my top priority” and notes how important it is to the state to keep travelers safe on Idaho roads “especially areas under construction.”
Governor Little said his office was not aware of the “magnitude” of the safety concerns.
“My office had no knowledge of the magnitude of the alleged safety concerns outlined in the article, nor did my office know about the BoiseDev public records requests and inquiries into these important issues, which date back to January of this year,” the letter reads.
Little is requesting that ITD provide a report to his office no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 30. The report must contain an assessment of the project’s current risks to public safety, a review of the BoiseDev article and repose to the details within the story, and a summary of all media inquiries the department received since the start of 2022 about the Idaho 55 project, along with the department’s responses.
“I will review your report before considering an outside third-party review into the safety concerns raised in the article,” Governor Little wrote. “I have not ruled out an outside review of the project to ensure public safety and the public’s confidence, which are my top priorities.”
ITD declined to answer BoiseDev’s detailed questions about the project.
You can read the full letter, below.
BoiseDev’s Margaret Carmel contributed reporting.