The newest interchange in the Treasure Valley, Ten Mile, adds a convenient interstate exit for those living in the western Meridian area. It is eye-catching as well, with landscaping not typically seen on other interchanges in the valley.
But at what cost? Who paid for it, who will be maintaining it? Cost of the landscaping project was slightly more than $580,000 paid for by federal stimulus money, and it will be maintained by the city of Meridian at an annual estimated cost of $45,000.
The Idaho Transportation Department did not implement the landscaping, but hired a company to do so. According to Reed Hollinshead from the Idaho Transportation Department, “The entire $580,281 was from that federal stimulus enhancement bucket. It was money that had to be spent on enhancement projects – it was mandated. … The Ten Mile landscaping project was one of those stimulus enhancement projects.”
Tammy de Weerd, the mayor of Meridian, forwarded information prepared by her Parks and Planning Staff explaining the annual $45,000 cost for maintaining the Ten Mile landscaping. In an e-mail to IdahoReporter.com, Parks and Planning said, “The Ten Mile Area Specific Plan (TMASP), which was a strategy to enhance Meridian’s prosperity, identified the Ten Mile Interchange area as a primary gateway corridor to the western part of Meridian. This plan had great stakeholder and citizen participation in creating a vision for this important gateway. As part of that plan, landscaped medians were included in the overall vision for the area. This plan had a public process in 2006, which culminated with its adoption by the City Council June of 2007.”
Parks and Planning said the city sent out a request for proposal to collect trash, mow and fertilize the grass areas, prune trees and take care of weed and pest control for the 16-acre project. The low bid, Parks and Planning said, was selected in August, adding that the city felt using a private contractor was the most cost-effective way to handle the maintenance.
Not everyone is in agreement with the cost of the landscaping and the subsequent need to maintain it. Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, head of the House Transportation Committee, says, “I think it (the interchange) would’ve been fine without the landscaping.”
The Ten Mile project is just one of 387 stimulus projects approved for the state of Idaho. According to recovery.gov, approximately $1.7 billion has been awarded to the state with $1.3 billion actually spent for the period of February 2009 through June 2011.
The costs for the Ten Mile landscaping, broken down into major groupings (costs larger than $10,000):
Concrete sidewalk: 553 square yards, $16,740
Select topsoil: 1,902 cubic yards, $25,681
Planting shrubs: 14 varieties, $51,217
Irrigation system: sprinklers, couplers, valves, underground system, drip system, etc., $229,972
Rock mulch: 3,774 square yards, $25,285
Gasketed non-potable water pipe: various diameter class 200 pipes, $63,586
Solvent weld non-potable pipe: Various diameter class 200 pipes, $57,584
Equipment mobilization: lump sum, $31,000