Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Master Plan - Exit 80.
By ALEXANDRIA ALVAREZ
FORT HALL — On May 18, the Shoshone-Bannock Planning Department, Shoshone-Bannock Transportation Department, and Horrocks Engineers conducted a public meeting at the Tribal Business Center Council Chambers to discuss the Exit 80 Master Plans to develop the property near the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Casino.
Wendy Shrief, planner with Horrocks engineers, Jimmy Young, Principal with Horrocks engineer, and Vernon Racehorse, engineer in training, attended the meeting, and explained that they were currently working with the Tribes on the project.
Shrief and Young took turns explaining the design plan began in March, which started with meeting tribal stakeholders, holding a Tribal Council Master plan workshop, and finally to where they are now having the first Fort Hall public meeting to discuss the master plan as a principal guide for Land Use.
The purpose of the meeting was to seek comment from community members and to share information about the Master Plan for Exit 80, which includes plans for economic development not only for the casino and hotel, but an expansion for development of the community beginning with expansion of the Exit 80 interstate ramp and roadways.
2021 is the projected date for the change to the interstate ramp. Young explained they hope to accomplish it through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant or also known as the TIGER grant. The TIGER grant is a supplementary discretionary grant program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The grant is a unique opportunity for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to invest in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. Each year DOT receives hundreds of applications to build and repair critical pieces of our freight and passenger transportation networks. The TIGER program enables DOT to examine these projects on their merits to help ensure that taxpayers are getting the highest value for every dollar invested through TIGER Discretionary Grants. Applicants must detail the benefits their project would deliver for five long-term outcomes: safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, quality of life and environmental sustainability. DOT also evaluates projects on innovation, partnerships, project readiness, benefit cost analysis, and cost share.
Horrocks Engineers plan to help the Tribes to file for the grant, but as stated before, must meet the five long-term outcomes in order to be considered. The cost of the repair to Exit 80 interchange is projected to cost about $8 to 10 million with a reconstruction to expand Ross Fork Road, reconstruct and expand Eagle Road, construct secondary road system within the study area, and rehabilitate existing roads within the study area.
Alonzo Coby, who works with the Shoshone-Bannock Planning Department said nothing was set in stone in regards to the master plan and community input is needed. He encouraged the several participants to encourage community members to come to future open houses and planning meetings.
Young then talked about some of the proposed development such as the completion of the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center and Casino, future water park, an interpretative or culture center, expand truck plaza and parking, creating a retail shopping center, RV expansion, movie theater, and future bank. Other community projects included the Wellness center, new Fire Department and training facility, multi-family housing, assisted living center, and revitalization of single-family housing.
Velda Racehorse commented she would like to see special attention to tourists who often take Fort Hall as a pit stop before going to Yellowstone noting that Fort Hall is on a huge interstate frequented by people traveling to Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and the Northwest, and it would be a shame to miss the opportunity. She also encouraged making the areas family friendly and also proposed to consider creating a teenage homeless center.
Anthony Pete Broncho said he was looking forward to the development that will have long-term impacts on future generations, and encouraged community members to think in terms of the past leadership who had the foresight to think of the future generations.
Wes Edmo, director of TERO (Tribal Employment Rights Office) encouraged Horrocks Engineers to follow the rules and regulations of TERO as projects develop and begin. Coby ended the meeting by ensuring that all community members’ suggestions was taken and will noted by the engineers for future meetings. Shrief also shared that this meeting was the first of many future meetings, and that they hoped to see more community members come and have their voices heard about what they would like to see in for the development of Fort Hall.
Wendy Shrief, planner with Horrocks engineers, discusses the Exit 80 plans.