Thursday, September 10, 2009

East Park Center Bridge

Finally, after about 12 years since first being conceived, the East Park Center Bridge will soon be opening. There will be the big deal grand opening ribbon cutting held sometime later in September. I'll let our well staffed PR department get out the word on the exact date and time.

This bridge cost Ada County taxpayers $14.5 million in construction costs and an additional $4 million in right-of-way, design, etc.

That cost doesn't seem like that much right? I mean, it is a bridge and these things usually cost a ton of money. However, it didn't have to be like this.

In 1997, Harris Ranch was willing to pay for the construction of the bridge, at that time estimated at about $6 million. In return, ACHD was going to repay them with the impact fees emanating from development in the Harris Ranch area and surrounds. I remember sitting in joint meetings between the ACHD Commission and the Boise City Council discussing this very thing. ACHD also needed to help Harris Ranch with the Corps of Engineers process and I believe there was movement to an agreement on that as well.

Unfortunately, the ACHD attorney at the time, decreed that impact fees could not be used for this purpose (of reimbursement) and the then Commissioners went along with that opinion. Note this attorney is long gone. ACHD, in effect, wanted Harris Ranch to build the bridge as an exaction along with paying impact fees.

Harris Ranch then walked away and sacrificed increased building lots which would have been allowed with the new roadway capacity generated by the bridge.

What's the big deal you say, since the bridge is built? Well, the taxpayers funded the bridge for $18.5 million instead of having the developer build it with ACHD reimbursing out of impact fees generated by the developer. In other words, no tax dollars spent under the first idea - $18.5 million in tax dollars the way it ended up. Well to be fair, some of the $18.5 million came from impact fees (mostly from Harris Ranch). However, since the impact fee fund is negative $26.3 million and climbing every quarter, I'd have to say that a lot of tax dollars went into the funding of this bridge which was totally unnecessary.

While I'm glad the bridge is finally built - it sure is a dumb way to run a railroad. Hopefully, this mistaken scenario won't ever happen again, for any project.

UPDATE: Our well staffed PR department is sending out postcards. September 29, 2009 is the date. 10:30 am is the time. Location - at the bridge.


At October 2, 2009 at 11:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, you don't mention the significant difference between the "old" verion of the E. Parkcenter Bridge and the "new" version. When Harris Ranch was going to pay for it, the bridge was one lane in each direction and would have been overtopped (i.e. under water and impassable) during high water events. The new bridge is 2 lanes in each direction and also had to be designed to cause zero net rise in the river upstream. These changes had a HUGE impact on the costs of the final bridge.

At October 7, 2009 at 9:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, you need to state all of the information and not slant it towards your own opinion. The original proposal was ill-suited for the location and use. Step down already, Boise does not need you, you seem to be everything that is wrong with beauracracy, a waste of public funds.


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