by Mayor Simison
This year we have seen some big and much needed transportation improvements in our community. With the much anticipated widening of Chinden Blvd., four lanes of Chinden are open from Locust Grove to Eagle Road and Linder Road to State Highway 16 marking a major milestone in the ChindenWest Corridor project. Residents will soon notice a detached 10-foot pathway to the south for bicyclists and pedestrians and changes to turning movements along the new road sections. Improvements were also made to Ten Mile Road as part of this project. The Linder Road to Locust Grove segment of Chinden will wrap up next year completing the expansion to four lanes for this roadway until 2024 when Chinden will be widened to Star Road.
Many of these improvements are thanks to public private partnerships (PPP), a term you may have heard in the past. So, what are “public private partnerships?”. Well, simply put, it’s public agencies working with private developers to complete a project together. In this case, the PPP was a creative way to expedite needed road improvements by working with private developers that are building in Meridian. Essentially, these partnerships allow projects to be completed sooner, and sometimes even cheaper. When developers are already working in the area, they add the improvements above and beyond what would be required for their development on to the larger job. Using sales tax revenue that these newly developed businesses generate, the state of Idaho will reimburse the developer for these improvements. Without these partnerships, we likely wouldn’t see many of these projects for years; and frankly, we don’t have years to wait.
In addition to these public private partnerships, we are also seeing several road projects completed by Ada County Highway District (ACHD). Road widenings were recently completed on Meridian Road between Cherry and Ustick, and Linder Road from Franklin to Pine. Both of these projects now provide five lanes for increased traffic flow in the area and enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Recently, construction work also began on the widening of Eagle Road from Victory to Amity to improve this stretch of road to five lanes.
While these road improvements are a step in the right direction, I am joined by other City leaders as we push for more to be done.
After a joint ACHD Commission and City Council meeting in October, a joint letter of support was sent to the Idaho Transportation Board requesting the Linder Road overpass project be added to the State Transportation Improvement Program. This project with four travel lanes and a multi-use bike and pedestrian facility would reduce local demand on regional interchanges, improve connectivity between north and south Meridian, and encourage alternative modes of transportation. More importantly , this bridge would also fill the last gap in the Linder Road corridor and provide regional connectivity from north of Beacon Light Road, south to the Snake River. Already served by a bridge crossing over the Boise River, this completed corridor would be the longest unbroken north-south arterial in Ada County.
As we head into 2021, the City of Meridian has a new Strategic Plan that specifically calls out Transportation and Infrastructure. We also have two newly elected ACHD Commissioners, Dave McKinney and Alexis Pickering as we look to collaborate with ACHD and ITD on projects. These are opportunities and I look forward to sharing more about our plans to pursue needed transportation improvements for our community in the coming months.
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