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City Officials Asked to Contact Legislators to Support Emergency Transportation Funding Bill

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Last Wednesday, the legislative budget committee unanimously approved a proposal for the state to provide $52 million in emergency funding for road and bridge projects to help state and local governments impacted by severe winter weather and flooding.

We ask city officials to contact their local legislators and respectfully ask for their support of Senate Bill 1141.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee held a special hearing where Brigadier Gen. Brad Richy, Director of the state Office of Emergency Management, described the damage and showed the committee pictures to confirm the damage assessment to roads and bridges in the Magic Valley.

“The amazing devastation that’s happening in this area is just incredible,” Richy said.  “It’s hard to imagine until you actually have the opportunity to see it from the air, to look down at some of these roads and the damage that’s happened to the infrastructure.”

Richy estimated the cost of flooding damage in the Magic Valley alone was at $17 million.

“There is no way of knowing what the actual cost will be until this whole thing is over with.  We anticipate that we’ll request another presidential declaration for this winter flood.” 

“We are far in excess of normal snowpack in Southern Idaho.  As temperatures begin to rise over the next 10 days, I would anticipate the snow line will continue to rise.  And some areas that haven’t experienced flooding will experience flooding.” 

Richy noted that 250 buildings have collapsed in southern Idaho and $100 million in damage was suffered by onion farmers due to storage sheds and other buildings collapsing under heavy snow load.  The city of Weiser lost a fire station and a grocery store.

Senate Bill 1141 would provide $52 million in grant funding for state and local road and bridge projects in counties that are under a Governor’s disaster declaration.  To date the Governor has declared a state disaster covering Cassia, Franklin, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Twin Falls and Washington Counties for flooding. 

Federal disaster declarations have been requested.  Repair projects that qualify for funding by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be covered 75% by federal funding, 15% will be covered by the state’s appropriated emergency funds, and there would be a 10% local match.  Volunteer hours and other in-kind contributions can count toward the local match.  For projects that don’t qualify for FEMA aid, the state would use the appropriated emergency funds to cover 90% of the costs, with a 10% local match. 

The projects will be selected by a Recovery Review Panel comprised of a representative each from the Idaho Transportation Department, Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, Idaho Association of Counties, Association of Idaho Cities, Idaho Association of Highway Districts, and the Governor’s office.  The Deputy Chief of the Idaho Office of Emergency Management in the Military Division will be a member and chair the panel. 

Senate Bill 1141 is the most important bill of the legislative session from the perspective of local governments and we ask city officials to contact their local legislators and respectfully ask for their support of this important bill.   

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