BOISE - On one of those crystal blue sky Boise mornings that remind us all why we live in the Treasure Valley, several hundred people gathered for the opening of the Broadway Bridge.
The bridge cost taxpayers $20.1 million. An ITD spokesperson was checking on BoiseDev.com's request to see if the project was on budget.
"The signature feature of this bridge is the handrail," Idaho Transportation Dept. board member Julie DeLorenzo said. "It will be illuminated at night!"
Before the project, the cramped bridge featured just four traffic lanes, no bike lanes and very cramped five-foot-wide sidewalks.
The new structure has six traffic lanes for cars, plus six-foot wide buffered bike lanes. In addition, the tiny sidewalks that were so cramped on Boise State game days are now ten feet wide. Plus, piers jut over the river - three on each side.
The experience for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists will all be greatly enhanced.
"Come Saturday night, we'll be very excited to see the ten foot sidewalks here, Kustra said. "For those of us who drive over the bridge, we (used to take) their lives in our hands as people step off into traffic!"
In addition to the lit handrails, ITD notes that it has upgraded lighting on the underside of the bridge to better light the Greenbelt path.
"People all across or Valley are loosing bets today! People bet this wouldn't be ready for the home opener," Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said.
Bieter noted he snuck on to the bridge earlier this week -- said he had to pry the barricades open to get out on the other side.
"I'm glad workers didn't catch me or I might not have been part of this celebration!"
The project started earlier this year, and ITD took an approach it called unique.
"Normally we build bridges one half at a time. Fully closing Broadway cut the time down," DeLorenzo said. "Doing it the traditional way would have taken probably two years. We did this in nine months."
"I'm not so sure I've seen too many projects to in my lifetime show up as on time as this one," Boise State president Bob Kustra said.
The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce hailed the importance of the bridge.
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"It's one of the most important commercial connections in our state," Chamber president Bill Connors said. "It connects the rest of our nation with our downtown. That may sound a little over the top, but let's think about how much use this bridge gets."
The bridge is open as of 1 p.m. Friday - just in time for Boise State's home opener against WSU.