Idaho’s GARVEE Program Completes a Decade of Highway Innovations
Idaho recently wrapped up a decade-long program that invested $857.6 million in road-and-bridge improvements across all six of the state’s corridors from 2006 to late 2015.
The program, called Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle, or GARVEE, delivered 59 projects on time, under budget, increased traffic capacity and improved safety, according to the Idaho Transportation District. GARVEE added 119.3 miles to the state highway system for congestion relief, built 15 new bridges, replaced or widened 26 others, added five new interchanges and reconstructed or improved nine existing interchanges.
ITD says that GARVEE projects were delivered at an accelerated pace and at lower costs than anticipated.
“Idaho benefited from aggressive and competitive bidding, resulting in significant bid savings from contractors and allowing other projects to be constructed sooner than originally scheduled,” said GARVEE Program Manager Amy Schroeder.
“Often, projects were built simultaneously, significantly reducing the duration of the traffic impact and matching GARVEE’s goal to accelerate projects,” Schroeder said. “This enabled motorists to use the roads and bridges earlier than if they were built consecutively and enhanced the region’s commerce and commercial transportation.”
ITD says that GARVEE allowed it to complete road and bridge projects decades earlier than would have been possible using traditional state-funding options. GARVEE also set some standards that have been adopted as standard road-construction practices regionally and nationally. As ITD’s GARVEE team focused on timely delivery of the program, it reviewed federal and departmental processes and identified efficiencies to modify ITD project delivery.
The result was new internal department features, called GARVEE Experimental Projects, developed to expedite project development and delivery. These features allow projects to move through development faster and be advertised for construction sooner than with traditional methods.
Early in the program, an Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer workshop brought national experts together with local leaders to explore innovations for accelerating construction. As a result of the workshop, program leadership selected techniques to accelerate development and increase competition among contractors, resulting in savings for the taxpayers of Idaho. The decade of new projects also encompassed different climates for contractor competition.
ITD refinanced a portion of the GARVEE bonds, saving $40 million, in 2012. Another round of refinancing in 2015 amounted to $12.7 million in present-value savings. In all, ITD says it saved $80 million between 2009 and 2011. These savings, supplemented with federal dollars, allowed ITD to add three high-priority I-84 interchange projects to the program.
ITD officials also tout other GARVEE accomplishments:
- A 34% reduction in total injury crashes and fatal crashes by 79% in the three years after projects were completed.
- Creation of more than 15,000 jobs in a depressed economy, keeping many local contractors, engineers and vendors in business.
- Program innovations that allowed projects to be delivered at an accelerated pace and lower costs. Some ITD innovations have been adopted as standard road-construction practices regionally and nationally.