Thursday, October 30, 2014

12th Street in Downtown Boise Debuts as Two-Way, 11th Street Reopens Friday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 3:04 PM

12th Street reopened Thursday as a two-way street

As part of the Downtown Boise Implementation Plan, the Ada County Highway District is shifting numerous streets in Boise's downtown core from one-way streets to two-ways to slow traffic. 11th Street is also in the process of conversion and will open Friday, Oct. 31. 

But that's not the last word on changes to downtown Boise's streets this autumn. Third and Fourth streets between Main and State streets, and Jefferson Street between First and Fourth streets, will also be converted to two-ways between now and 2015. 

Signal changes and other additions will accompany the conversions. Those include traffic changes on Third Street at Main and Idaho streets, on 11th Street between Main and State streets, and 12th Street between Main and Idaho streets.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Public Stakeholders Offer Input on Downtown Circulator

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 8:37 AM

Downtown property owners and tenants got the opportunity to help chart the course of Boise's downtown circulator on Sept. 10 and 11. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • Downtown property owners and tenants got the opportunity to help chart the course of Boise's downtown circulator on Sept. 10 and 11.

The city of Boise Public Works Department opted to take a new approach in its planning for a long-envisioned downtown circulator. When the idea came up in 2004, and then sparked again in 2008, public outreach was pretty "relaxed," as Jim Pardy—assistant city engineer for the city—put it.

Not this time. On Sept. 10-11, his department held two two-hour workshops in the Rose Room downtown, inviting nearby property owners and tenants to pour over mapped-out routes for the circulator. The goal of the evenings: narrow down a few possible routes based on public input and launch hefty analysis on the proposed areas.

  • City of Boise Public Works Department

Possible routes presented in the east and west areas of downtown include connection on State Street from Ninth to 16th streets; a route on Jefferson from Ninth to 16th and back down Bannock; a similar route from Ninth to 16th on Idaho Street, rounding around Main as well; and a connection of Ninth Street and 16th Street through the Linen District.

Each proposed route included goals, like connecting key activity centers, allowing flexibility to future connections to a regional system, serving high population and employment density, connecting parking garages, and meshing well with existing traffic and bike lanes.

In the Wednesday meeting, some 40 people sat around large tables spread with pages of proposed designs. Nick Baumann, an electrician at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, came to the meeting because his office is on 16th Street—next one of the proposed routes. He said a transit system like this in Boise is "overdue."

"I wish we were talking about a Boise-to-Nampa [circulator]," he said. "But maybe this will get it started."

Baumann said there's an empty field across the street from his workplace. He said if a circulator goes past, maybe it would help stimulate the growth of downtown's edges.

Sitting beside Baumann, Ronda Jalbert—development director for Valley Regional Transit—took her own close look at the proposed routes.

"I'd say I have a vested interest," Jalbert said. "We realize there's a need to get people around downtown at a higher frequency than the buses run. This would enhance downtown transit, rather than replace the existing buses."

  • City of Boise Public Works Department

Craig Quintana, of the Ada County Highway District, stood nearby, listening to the break-out groups discuss the possible routes with interest.

"No matter what the city of Boise decides, it's still our roads," he said. "We'll need to make accommodations to the roads, whether the circulator is on rubber tires or needs a rail. We're on board."

Once the routes are worked out, it will be time to hash out the nuts and bolts of the circulator—like what appearance it will take. Options include a bus system or a streetcar. The Public Works Department gathered four hours worth of suggestions and comments and will take the next few weeks to determine which proposed routes were most popular and why. Eventually, the options will be weeded down to one, and the first phase of the anticipated downtown circulator will begin.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Take a Look at Some Recommendations for a New Boise Downtown Circulator

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM

With very little fanfare (at least so far), the city of Boise's latest effort to introduce a so-called circulator—planner-speak for a streetcar, trolley or dedicated bus line—to its downtown core is moving forward. And some very interesting data is beginning to surface.

Boise Weekly readers have been hearing about  the new analysis for nearly a year, and this past February, the Department of Public Works turned to citizens, asking them to weigh in on what they would like to see.

In 2011, Boise secured a grant of $375,000 from Federal Transit Administration to fund a study of the circulator. Then, the city and the Capital City Development Corporation each ponied up $62,500. That still wasn't enough, apparently, because just last month, the Boise City Council pumped $63,000 more into the study, which now totals $563,000.

The analysis is expected to continue through next spring. If enough citizens and lawmakers are convinced to move forward, it would take approximately 12 more months to secure local funding commitments and, according to city documents, final design and construction could commence as soon as spring 2016.

According to feedback from last winter's open house, 54 percent of citizens said they preferred rail service versus 26 percent for a circulating bus line.

But where should the circulator go?

Take a look at the map below, indicating where citizens said they would like to see the circulator stop. High on the list was Boise State University and the downtown Core, which would drive a north-south route. Also high on the list was St. Luke's Hospital and the Linen District, which would drive an east-west route.

What's next? a public meeting is expected sometime this October. Plus, you'll be hearing more about a so-called LPA—or locally preferred alternative. A final LPA is supposed to be presented this December.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Elon Musk Unveils Plans For 760 mph 'Hyperloop' Transit System

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Anyone older than a certain age will look back on the era of supersonic travel and wonder why we seem to be commuting so slowly now. A current flight from JFK to London’s Heathrow Airport takes around eight hours. The distinctive Concorde craft, decommissioned for 10 years now, made the same trip in little under three and a half. Why are we slowing down?

The recently green-lit California Highspeed Rail project—a proposed 114-mile stretch of bullet-train track across the state—was set to speed up West Coast commuters. But one entrepreneur has decided that 220 mph (the top speed for the project) is just far too slow for the digital age.

Elon Musk, founder of Paypal and SpaceX, has drawn up plans for a “Hyperloop” system—a network of tubes that packs commuters into magnetically-accelerated capsules, reaching speeds of 760 mph. You could board a Hyperloop in downtown Los Angeles and be stepping out onto the streets of San Francisco a half-hour later.

Proponents says the system would be safe, solar powered with no waste or emissions, and unlike the luxury first-class days of Concorde, should be accessible to the masses—Musk estimates that a one-way ticket would cost around $20.

The proposition has already drawn fierce criticism, ranging from talk of it being sheer science fiction masquerading as pseudo-science, to accusations that it's a giant corporate scam—comparisons with the infamous Monorail episode of The Simpsons are rife on social networks. But Musk is nothing if not credible. His SpaceX program is, to date, the only private space agency that has launched a craft and docked with the International Space Station, winning a contract with NASA for resupplying the space station.

Time will only tell if Musk’s system is viable and if the Hyperloop will come to fruition, but for those of us who are used to cramming into planes, buses or trains for hours on end may already be anxiously awaiting the Hyperloop’s boarding call.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Trains Derail Near Glacier National Park

Posted By on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM

One of the region's major rail arterials came to a halt Jan. 25 when two freight trains derailed near Montana's Glacier National Park. The track is part of the main rail route that runs from the Pacific coast, across Idaho's pandhandle, into Montana and on to the Midwest.

One of the trains was hauling general merchandse from Seattle and the other was hauling general freight from Pasco, Wash.

A spokesman for BNSF Railway, North America's second-largest freight railroad network, told the Associated Press that two trains derailed Jan. 25, one at Belton, Mont., and another 10 miles west of Cut Bank, Mont. The line was expected to be reopened today.

Through much of Friday, some freight traffic was re-routed through southern Montana.

Amtrak—which also uses the stretch of rail on its northernmost east-west route—bused a number of passengers between Whitefish, Mont., and Shelby, Mont. while the line was closed.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update: Gas Line Break Shuts Down Eagle Road

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 12:48 PM

UPDATE 3:20 p.m.

Traffic on Eagle Road is flowing again, as crews from Intermountain Gas quickly repaired a break in a gas main below Eagle. Construction crews hit a pipeline at the southwest corner of Eagle and Pine around noon. Intermountain said no customers were impacted by the main shutdown.

All traffic lanes were blocked for approximately three hours until Meridian police gave the all clear.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m.

A major traffic alert is expected to stretch into this evening's rush hour as emergency crews deal with a broken gas main below Eagle Road. All traffic is being re-routed away from Eagle between Fairview and Pine.

Construction crews working in the area reportedly hit a natural gas pipeline around noon at the southwest corner Eagle and Pine. Crews have identified the source of the leak but the repair is expected to take some more time. Emergency crews determined that an evacuation was unnecessary.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.

Here's a look through the Ada County Highway District traffic cam at Eagle & Franklin, where emergency crews have blocked off all traffic on Eagle Road between Fairview and Pine because of a gas main break beneath Eagle Road.

Ada County Sheriff's officials said the repairs could take several hours to complete. Traffic is being encouraged to steer clear of the Treasure Valley's busiest road.

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.

Here's a traffic cam at the corner of Eagle and Fairview. Traditionally, this intersection is bumper-to-bumper. As you can see, Meridian Police have blocked off all lanes while crews work below Eagle to repair a broken gas line. The tie-up is expected to last "for quite some time."

ORIGINAL POST 12:30 p.m.
A gas line break under Eagle Road has brought traffic to a standstill.

Meridian's police and fire departments are on the scene and currently blocking all lanes of traffic on Eagle Road between Fairview Avenue and Pine Street. Because the break is under the road, Andrea Dearden of the Ada County Sheriff's Office said the road is expected to "be shut down for quite some time."

Stay connected to Citydesk, Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What's So Bad About Being Good? Boise's New Bus Route

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Valley Regional Transit has just secured $260,000 to roll out a new bus line. Route 28, one of the most ambitious projects in VRT history, will serve Southwest Boise, including the Boise Towne Square Mall, the offices of U.S. Immigration and Social Security, and more than a half-dozen schools.

But the route has some members of the Boise City Council more than a bit nervous, especially if it turns out to be successful. We'll tell you why Boise's newest bus route is the reason for much hand-wringing, with one Boise Council member calling the pilot route "cruel," coming up in this week's BW.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Southwest Grounds Planes, Orders Inspections

Posted By on Sun, Apr 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Southwest Airlines has grounded a number of its 737s for emergency inspections. As of late morning, no Southwest delays had been reported at Boise Airport but postponements were continuing to sweep across the airline's system. Southwest grounded 79 planes and canceled about 300 flights Saturday in the wake of an incident in which a hole ripped open in an airplane cabin of a flight from Phoenix to Sacramento Friday night.

Last weekend Alaska/Horizon Air grounded dozens of flights following a massive failure of its computer systems.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Alaska/Horizon Grounds 60 Flights

Posted By on Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Spring break is not going as planned as hundreds of passengers have been stranded in Boise and across the Western United States.

Alaska Airlines and its Horizon Air affiliate grounded dozens of flights in the wake of a massive failure of its computer systems.

More than 60 flights had been canceled by midday, six hours after the outage began. Alaska/Horizon is promising to rebook passengers without a fee.

Horizon had to reshuffle Boise passengers bound for Portland and Seattle today. Not all flights were canceled, and an airline spokesman urged travelers to check directly with Alaska/Horizon before heading to the airport.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Republicans Kill HOV Bill

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Don't expect to see high occupancy vehicle lanes in the Treasure Valley anytime soon. While tens of thousands of commuters face I-84 each morning and afternoon, a proposal that would allow most Idaho communities to introduce HOV lanes got stuck in a legislative traffic jam this afternoon.

The House Transportation and Defense Committee voted 10-5 to kill a bill by Boise Democrat Phyllis King to expand Idaho's ability to build HOV lanes. Currently a 2009 law allows only counties with populations of 25,000 or less to introduce HOV lanes for carpoolers and buses. King told Citydesk that she crafted her measure after hearing from her Boise constituents on a need for HOVs.

Meridian Republican Marv Hagedorn led the charge against King's motion.

"I think we're opening up a door that we don't want open," said Hagedorn with his no vote.

But Moscow Democrat Shirley Ringo countered with her experience in other cities.

"HOVs work very well in Seattle," said Ringo. "It incentivizes carpooling."

But Republican Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene disagreed.

"Comparing Seattle to Boise to comparing apples to oranges," said Nonini. "We should hold this bill."

And so they did, in effect killing the measure. Republicans Leon Smith of Twin Falls and Richard Wills of Glenns Ferry joined the committee's three democrats in a losing effort.

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