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Both the Federal Highway Administration and the Idaho Transportation Department identified the project as a public need to better serve vehicular traffic associated with the city’s growth. City staff and consulting engineers began designing the project in 2016. The environmental, preliminary and final design processes are complete.
“This project is very similar in nature to the improvements that were made at 17th Street and Hitt Road,” explains Public Works Director, Chris Fredericksen.
The Idaho Falls City Council met last week to discuss the project. VIDEO| City Council Meeting, February 25, 2021
Two motions were made during the meeting to approve a right-of-way agreement and a resolution to condemn parcels located near the intersection. Both motions passed with a 6-0 vote.
“The proposed improvements to add turn lanes require that additional right-of-way be purchased to construct the project,” states Fredericksen.
The right-of-way agreement is with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise and provides the ability to complete the intersection improvements on this corner of the intersection. The agreements to acquire right-of-way for the project will utilize right-of-way funds programmed to address necessary land acquisition. The City will receive reimbursement at a rate of 92.66 percent of the right-of-way acquisition costs.
The second motion, a resolution to condemn property was also required to complete project activities. City personnel negotiated with the property owner and made fair-market value offers to purchase needed right-of-way, but were unable to reach an agreement for the two parcels included in the resolution.
The City has eminent domain authority to acquire real property for the right-of-way to complete the proposed intersection improvements.
“Eminent domain is difficult and is something we would rather avoid, however we are at a standstill on the project without it,” stated Councilman Jim Freeman in the meeting. “We need to get this project moving forward,” added Freeman.
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper states, “We take property rights very seriously. A lot of deliberation went into this decision. City staff went back and forth with the property owner with various offers to acquire the property for these needed improvements. With the help of a court, we will make sure the property owner is properly compensated according to market value. It is also important to note that these are only two of the 16 separate agreements involved in the project. To date, the vast majority have been addressed with ease. Most residents are excited about the project.”
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