The Idaho Transportation Department just added two big buckets of cash to help buy right of way to accelerate the construction of Idaho Highway 16 and Chinden Blvd. in the west part of the Treasure Valley
The two routes are in a booming part of the area, and one day will provide new and improved connections from Interstate 84 north all the way to Emmett and east to Eagle Rd.
New money for Highway 16
For Highway 16, $96-million is being added to the pile, up from an initial $6-million approved earlier this year for initial engineering work on the project.
“Extending Idaho 16 to I-84 will serve as a critical north-south connection in the heart of the fast-growing Treasure Valley,” Idaho Transportation Department Public Information Specialist Jake Melder said.”The Department is facing pressure from development interests in the area. The investment now to preserve the right of way will help keep future construction costs within reason.”
The current road section, dubbed the Central Valley Expressway, was completed in 2014 and ends in a tee-intersection at Chinden Blvd.
The new segment would run roughly parallel to McDermott Rd. before meeting up with Interstate 84 in an interchange configuration. At full build-out, much of the road would be free of signalized intersections and instead would connect to major crossroads with interchanges, creating a freeway-like road.
As for when this new stretch could be open for drivers: that’s still a question mark.
“ITD is still evaluating the options for buildout as funding becomes available,” Melder said. “The Idaho Transportation Board’s decision to fund $90-million for partial ROW acquisition preserves the corridor but does not fund final design or construction.”
The Meridian Press reported the full project could cost more than $400-million according to a 2011 estimate.
New projects are in the works at Highway 16 and State St./Highway 44 near Star, including the Central Valley Plaza being spearheaded by developer Tommy Ahlquist, as well as a new apartment complex in the works from TJ Angstman.
“For our project we understood that Highway 16 could one day become the epicenter of a transportation hub,” Angstman said. “There was no funding for that vision and no timeline. Now, with the acquisition of right of way, ITD is demonstrating the priority it places on the need for a North South corridor.”
Angstman said when the project is complete, Star will be just a six minute drive from I-84, which should make the area see increased housing, retail and employment opportunities in years to come.
“(That will decrease) overall traffic congestion in the Treasure Valley,” he said. “This is good planning.”
Part of the new money for right of way was freed up after a $90.2-million federal grant went to Interstate 84 expansion in Canyon County, part of a Trump Administration program focused on infrastructure.
Booming Caldwell speeds up Chinden expansion
Another outlay of $34.3 million has been earmarked to expand gaps in Chinden Blvd. from Interstate 84 to Middleton Rd. – boosting the total lanes from two to six.
This project is one of a series of improvements between now and 2024 that would turn Chinden into a full six-lane road from Interstate 84 in Caldwell all the way to Eagle Rd. in Meridian.
Melder said the growth in Caldwell is part of the impetus behind this project.
“We are tackling that work where the need is greatest and construction cost-effective,” he said. “This project will construct the ultimate build-out in the Caldwell area and serve the commuters and businesses there for years to come.”
The money comes from Idaho’s so-called Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation, which was approved by the Idaho Legislature in 2017.
With the added funding, this road expansion is now set for 2020 and 2021.