BOISE — While no one yet knows exactly how much federal money will be given out to help pay for infrastructure damage in the Magic Valley, $50 million in state money is available to help cities and highway districts rebuild some of the roads that were damaged this winter.
Competition for it is already heavy.
Lawmakers approved the extra funding in early March, a few weeks after flooding brought on by melting snow wreaked havoc on roads throughout the Magic Valley. While the measure never had any opposition — it passed both the House and Senate unanimously — it lingered on the House calendar for almost three weeks after passing the Senate, held hostage by a larger fight over transportation funding. It passed on the last day of the session.
“I applaud the Legislature for putting this money aside,” Lt. Gov. Brad Little said in Hailey earlier this month, at a town hall meeting to discuss the flooding in Blaine County.
Of that $52 million, $2 million went right to the Office of Emergency Management’s disaster fund and is being used already, said Jon Hanian, spokesman for Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
“That’s snow removal to sandbags, all of that kind of activity,” Hanian said. “That is being spent as we speak. In fact, some of that, they’re still applying out from previous disasters.”
The rest will be given out in three rounds of applications, with the deadline for cities and highway districts to apply for the first round being May 15, the second June 15, and the last July 1. The state will give out $15 million for road projects in each of the first two rounds and the rest in the last.
The state got applications for 180 projects totaling more than $31.6 million by the May 15 deadline, said Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Elizabeth Duncan.
The applicants are expected to put up 10 percent of the funding for the projects. A panel headed by Office of Emergency Management Deputy Chief Brad Richy and consisting of representatives from the governor’s office, Idaho Transportation Department, Idaho Association of Cities, Idaho Association of Counties, Association of Highway Districts and Local Highway Technical Assistance Council is making the funding decisions.