City Center Plaza project may have hit a costly snag

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Inspectors found petroleum deep down in the soil near the Grove Plaza where Gardner Company's new City Center Plaza is set to be built. Because the project plans for an underground transit center, that contaminated soil has to be cleaned out.

There was a gas station near where the Grove Plaza is now about 60 years ago, according to the Gardner Company. Because EPA regulations weren't around yet at the time, gas stations had underground tanks that often leaked oil.

Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Aaron Scheff says oil leaks from old underground tanks can be found all over Boise and usually don't cause any problems. But after inspectors found a leak at the City Center Plaza's project site, developers now have to clean the area out because people will be down below ground when the transit hub is up and running.

The Gardner Company is working with the Capitol City Development Corporation, or CCDC, on the new plaza. It's already in CCDC's budget to dig out about 30 feet of soil for the transportation hub, and the development corporation says it's hopeful that will be enough to dig out all the bad soil.

"If they don't dig out of the contamination and they've reached the limit of what they were planning to excavate, that's when the initial site investigation will begin," Scheff said.

A site investigation could entail more digging, soil treatment and even groundwater treatment. When KBOI asked who would pay for the potential extra costs, CCDC, which is funded by tax money, said it will simply do what it needs to in order to move forward with the project.