SHOSHONE, Idaho (KLIX) – The Idaho Transportation board has postponed making a decision whether to move its district headquarters out of Shoshone.

The topic drew the attention of local residents and elected officials, who came out to the ITD board meeting Thursday at the district office. Thirty minutes was allowed for public comment, but an hour later concerned citizens and legislators were still talking.

Among the elected officials at the meeting was Sen. Michelle Stennett, who said she opposes ITD moving out of Shoshone.

“Moving the ITD headquarters out of Shoshone would have a devastating effect on the economy of Shoshone and Lincoln County,” she said. “Idaho’s small towns are fighting for their survival all over the state. As public servants, we should be offering solutions to cities like Shoshone, not making the problem worse.”

The region office accounts for more than 60 percent of the jobs in Shoshone, Stennet, along with Reps. Sally Toone and Steve Miller, said in a letter earlier this week, noting that moving the office to another locale would “drain $250,000 from the local economy annually.” They estimate that building a new facility in Shoshone would be $200,000 less than building one in Jerome or Twin Falls.

“District 4 serves a largely rural area of Idaho and part of ITD’s mission statement is to provide economic opportunity to the areas it serves,” Rep. Sally Toone said at the meeting. “If ITD moves its district headquarters out of a rural area into a larger city, it not only fails the rural population it’s supposed to serve, it doesn’t live up to its own mission statement.”

The current discussion of relocation started about two years ago, when ITD started looking at what it’d take to remodel the existing building.

“When the cost came in at 70 to 80 percent of what a brand new facility would cost, we said, ‘OK, we need to present a bunch of different options,’” said department spokesman Nathan Jerke.

Location was an important question to answer. For instance, he said, even though district headquarters have been in Shoshone for a while now, is it still the best place to serve the growing region?

One location considered was moving headquarters to the area of the Interstate 84/U.S. Highway 93 junction in Jerome.

Jerke said ITD conducted an economic study in 2016, opened the topic for public comment, and continued the analysis through this past spring.

The only decision the board made on Thursday, however, was to seek more information concerning the costs and economic impact of moving the agency’s headquarters before making a final decision.

“Along with all that we’ve heard today, I think we need more information to make a decision,” Transportation Board Chairman Jerry Whitehead said.

There was no time frame given on when ITD will conclude its findings, but Jerke said it will likely be sooner than later, since the deadline for the next fiscal budget is approaching. Also, ITD wants to submit a proposal to legislators before the next Legislative session begins in January.

“A lot of people had a lot of positive things to say about Shoshone and Lincoln County,” Jerke said. “That’s something the board wanted to hear too, a lot of positives.”

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