Southern Idaho Tackles Several Infrastructure Improvement Efforts
Main Street enhancements, airport expansion, new hotel highlight recent projects heighten Southern Idaho's Atmosphere.
If you take a panoramic look around the Magic Valley, you’ll see several capital projects and economic development wins throughout the region, all focused on improving connectivity and adding jobs. That includes the Twin Falls downtown area, where much has been happening.
One key effort is a Main Avenue renaissance, with a major redesign of five blocks between Jerome Street and Fairfield Street. The $6.5 million project includes new utilities underneath the roadway, new sidewalks, paving, more lighting, trees and street furniture.
“Downtown plays a big part in the quality of life in Twin Falls, and the last time utilities were upgraded along Main Avenue was the early 1970s,” says Nathan Murray, Twin Falls economic development director.
Another improvement downtown is a new three-story city hall, which opened in October 2017 in the former Banner Furniture building.
“There are also plans to construct a Commons Plaza across from City Hall, complete with a summer splash pad, winter ice rink and a comfortable area for concerts and gatherings,” Murray says. “In addition, a $4.1 million public safety complex has opened, and an old Elks lodge will be turned into modern offices and restaurant space. We are signaling to developers that downtown Twin Falls is a thriving place for investment.”
A Good Five Years
In Burley, the city’s River Bend Business Park will welcome an 80-room Hampton Inn by Hilton and a surf-and-turf restaurant that are expected to open in early 2018. In addition, Dow Chemical is building a plant in Burley to produce Styrofoam insulation, and Watco Companies has announced plans to construct a rail facility in the city.
“Economic development has been going well for us during the past five years, with companies noticing our ideal location halfway between Denver and the Seattle/Portland areas,” says Doug Manning, City of Burley director of economic development. “Another advantage is that trucks can get from Burley to anywhere west of the Mississippi within 24 to 36 hours.”
Manning points out that companies expanding in Burley in recent years include Fabri-Kal, Gavilon Grain and McCain Foods USA.
“More than 2,000 new jobs have been created over the last few years, and I currently have about 12-14 economic development projects I’m working on,” he says.
Other upgrades in the region include Twin Falls completing new section of the popular Snake River Canyon Rim Trail; a detailed map of the trail, available at the Twin Falls Visitor Center, was updated in 2017. Also being addressed: a Hagerman Valley Pathways project to connect Hagerman Valley communities with about 30 natural and historic sites along a 20-mile corridor of the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway.
Air travel in the Magic Valley was also enhanced. Jerome County Airport completed a renovation to better serve its customer base of private plane owners, the agriculture industry and emergency services. At Magic Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls, a $4.3 million expansion has added 8,000 square feet of new space and remodeled 6,000 square feet of existing space.
“With all the continued growth throughout the valley, our construction project was something that has been in the planning stages for several years,” says Bill Carberry, Magic Valley Regional Airport manager.
The airport offers three commercial flights daily to Salt Lake City and also accommodates crop-dusting planes and emergency medical aircraft. FedEx is planning to open a distribution facility on the grounds in 2018.
“We weren’t set up well for TSA (Transportation Security Administration) operations prior to our construction project, so we addressed that,” Carberry says. “Now we have an excellent baggage-screening area, and we remodeled the ticket counter area and installed self-serve kiosks.”
Carberry says the lobby was remodeled and the hold room gate area has expanded seating for passengers to relax before flights. Restrooms were also added to the hold room.
“This airport is an economic driver for this region,” Carberry says. “It gives arriving passengers a nice first impression of the Magic Valley.”