The Bridge Gets Steeper 

The East ParkCenter Bridge project is not getting any cheaper.

The East ParkCenter Bridge project that has commuters crossing their fingers and growthophobes cringing is not getting any cheaper. Boise City Council and Ada County Highway District officials met last week and found that estimates for the bridge's cost are only going up. Almost double, in fact: Craig Quintana, a spokesman for ACHD, said that the original cost of $8.7 million is a tad conservative and that Boiseans ought to start thinking in the $13 million to $17 million range. To get the bridge finished and open for business by 2010 (construction was slated to start this winter) Quintana said his agency and Boise City were now down to dickering over other projects.

To save money and move forward on the bridge, Boise City officials are looking to see which street projects they can wait for, in order to direct more money at the spendy bridge. Michael Zuzel, spokesman for Mayor Dave Bieter, said they would look at what was do-able, from ACHD's standpoint, and what was desireable from the city's standpoint.

Boise might also be saved by a donor: When Boise's Williams family donated land adjacent to the Boise River to the city earlier this year for use as a park, but the city might try to use some of the donated land to function as a side channel to accommodate water displaced by the new bridge's foundation. Doing so would keep costs lower, Zuzel said, and keep the city from running afoul of federal rules regarding floodplain management.

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