Blackfoot to replace road leading up to the East Idaho State Fairgrounds - East Idaho News

Blackfoot to replace road leading up to the East Idaho State Fairgrounds

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BLACKFOOT — An eastern Idaho city has received a half a million dollar grant to replace what becomes its busiest road nine days out of the year.

The city of Blackfoot received the Idaho Community Development Block Grant for Downtown Revitalization for $500,000, which will be used to bring North Broadway Street up to current standards. This project is only a small part of a larger ongoing effort by the city to revitalize its downtown area.

“It’s been a long time since there has been a grant like that,” said Mayor Marc Carroll.

The engineer estimate is that the grant will pay for the city to replace the road, curb, gutter and sidewalk and add park benches for North Broadway Street from Pacific Street to Highway 91.

While there isn’t much foot traffic on this road normally, it becomes the most high traffic area in the city during the East Idaho State Fair. Right now, the corners on Broadway are not compliant with current ADA law.

The city is still in the planning phase for the project, so no date has been set on when road work will start.

While this project will benefit the city by making it easier for pedestrians to walk the street towards the fair, it’s only part of a continuing effort by the city to revitalize Blackfoot’s downtown area. Carroll said that many of the improvements that they have made and will continue to make aren’t immediately noticeable.

“A lot of the upgrades we’re doing are things that people don’t even see,” Carroll said. “The real critical infrastructure is the water and sewer system, and that’s underground of course, and people just don’t think about it.”

Last fall, the city put $100,000 towards making improvements to the concrete and asphalt streets — adding ADA compliant corners. The city has also set aside a million dollars to upgrade the downtown area’s sewer system, which is scheduled to begin in August.

But Blackfoot has more planned to bring vehicle and foot traffic downtown. They’ve received suggestions and showcased some ideas at a number of open houses, one of which would be the installation of two overhead signs. One proposed by the city would be placed where Highway 91 turns onto Pacific Street and residents suggested adding another at the intersection of South Broadway Street and West Judicial Street.

Welcome to Blackfoot Design concept
The design concepts for what welcome signs to the downtown could look like. | file photo

City officials hope that these improvements will bring more people into the downtown, giving a boost to the already existing businesses and make it possible for people to open more. Carroll said that he remembers a time when Blackfoot’s downtown offered a variety of businesses.

“The downtown was just a thriving place,” Carroll said.

During the 1990s, he said that changed. This was probably due to a variety of factors, including business owners aging or Walmart opening in 1992.

Carroll admits that he shops out of town like many people in Blackfoot, but he thinks that people should have the option to stay in town and do their shopping.

“We would just like to have stores come back to the downtown. We hope that by rebuilding sidewalks and making the streets themselves more attractive, that’ll attract merchants to occupy some of these vacant storefronts and open up,” Carroll said.