Thursday, September 1, 2016

How do you eat an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? You know the answer: One bite at a time!

The answer is the same when you ask how we can address the region’s immense transportation needs: One bite at a time!

Most large transportation projects are like the elephant; they can’t be tackled all at once. Even relatively small projects often cost multiple millions of dollars.

Instead, transportation agencies frequently take the wise approach of building or improving transportation facilities in small bites. Eventually, all of those bites will complete the larger project to fill a regional need.

The DRAFT FY2017 – 2021 Regional Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, now open for public comment, includes one of those “small bite” projects. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has budgeted about $7.5 million to widen US 20/26 (Chinden Boulevard) between Locust Grove Road and State Highway 55 (Eagle Road) by adding one additional lane in each direction. Construction is currently planned for fiscal year 2021 and is funded through ITD’s Strategic Initiatives Program – a highly competitive statewide funding source designed to fund projects that increase safety, promote mobility, and stimulate economic opportunity.

We know the need doesn’t stop at Locust Grove Road; improvements are needed all the way to Middleton Road in western Canyon County. However, this project constitutes that “first bite” to meet that larger need. The remainder of the improvements are unfunded; US 20/26 from Locust Grove to Middleton Road sits as #3 on the prioritized list of unfunded projects in Communities in Motion 2040. COMPASS and ITD will continue to seek funding to complete improvements along the corridor.

The project along US 20/26 is just one of dozens of transportation projects funded in the DRAFT FY2017 – 2021 TIP. I encourage you to review the TIP while it is open for public comment and share your feedback on the upcoming projects. Are the “right” projects being funded? Do you see other needs that aren’t addressed?

While we can’t fund every need right now, we will continue to take small bites and eventually eat the elephant.

Public comment is open through Monday, September 19, 2016. Visit to review materials and submit your feedback.

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Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.