Mayor highlights Meridian’s successes, future plans

jdowd//June 6, 2023

Meridian State of the Address event (IBR photo).

Mayor highlights Meridian’s successes, future plans

jdowd//June 6, 2023

MERIDIAN, ID Mayor Robert Simison delivered his 2023 State of the City Address today at the Galaxy Event Center. At the event, hosted by the Meridian Chamber of Commerce and Presenting Sponsor, The Village at Meridian and CenterCal Properties, Simison addressed recent successes in investing in public safety personnel and infrastructure. He also emphasized the importance of partnerships with agencies and community stakeholders in meeting the service expectations of the community through responsible growth strategies.

Addressing the concern of mobility among Meridian residents, Simison highlighted several road improvement projects that are nearing completion. These include the expansion of the final leg of Chinden Boulevard between Locust Grove and Meridian Road and the repaving of Eagle Road, which now features a new third lane southbound from River Valley to Interstate 84. Additionally, the Linder Road overpass project is set to complete its design phase this fall, with funding for right-of-way acquisition to be included in the Ada County Highway District’s (ACHD) budget for the following year.

Simison also expressed the need for the evolution of operations on Eagle Road to meet community standards, with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) expected to provide speed reduction recommendations in the near future. 

“I’m concerned that people will continue to try and travel at unreasonable speeds on the freshly paved road this summer due to a posted speed limit that isn’t achievable during many times of the day,” he added.

Expanding on the city’s development plans, Simison shared the expansion plans of both Idaho State University and Saint Alphonsus Health System. Saint Alphonsus Hospital intends to establish a new outpatient center in northwest Meridian through the acquisition of land near Chinden and Highway 16. Meanwhile, Idaho State University plans to expand its Meridian health care campus, with the initial property development funded by $5.3 million in state appropriations. 

“We need to lay out a clear [land use] framework for a medical corridor in this area,” Simison said. Further stating that these efforts will benefit “those who need care, are focused on finding the next medical breakthroughs, and for the necessary education opportunities for our future  providers.”  

Simison touched upon various aspects of the economy and the city’s responsible growth achievements over the past three years. Meridian has become a top employment center, with over 8,500 jobs created since 2020 and average wages increasing by more than fifteen percent. The mayor acknowledged the city’s efforts to update impact fees to accurately account for the cost of development, ensuring that growth pays for growth. He also highlighted the implementation of three new urban renewal areas and the identification of priority growth areas and infill projects as effective strategies for directing and encouraging growth, reflecting sound policy and fiscal responsibility.

During his address, the mayor outlined the needs he recommends including in the upcoming city budget. He emphasized purposeful requests that align with public service expectations and the forward-facing departments as the city continues to grow. The budget includes resources for support departments such as information technology, human resources, and finance. It also proposes funding for pathway connectivity and streetlight expansion, aiming to enhance the community’s aesthetic appeal, improve mobility connections, and increase safety.