Friday, September 24, 2010

Yet More Traffic Woes

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 11:33 AM

As if getting around Boise on Saturday, Sept. 25 wasn't going to be hard enough already, ACHD is closing the intersection of Hill Road/Harrison Boulevard/Bogus Basin Road through the weekend.

The closure is part of a water main project, and traffic will be detoured around the intersection. Work on this section is expected to be finished by Sunday evening, but the crew will then move west, shutting down a four-block section of Hill Road between Harrison Boulevard and 20th Street.

Wonder if anyone thought about delaying the work a day or two considering the massive traffic nightmare that Downtown Boise will be on Saturday thanks to the Boise State vs. Oregon State game and the Women's Fitness Celebration.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

High Gas Prices, Low Number of Collisions

Posted By on Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 10:59 AM

With a healthy share of Treasure Valley sports fans heading to the nation's capital this weekend, AAA reports air travel is expected to account for 5 percent of the holiday traffic. The auto club is predicting a 10 percent bump in Labor Day travel compared to last year, with more than 34 million Americans expected to travel more than 50 miles behind the wheel.

It's no surprise to Idahoans that prices at the pump remain high. What is surprising is that Idaho has the fifth-highest prices in the country, behind Alaska, Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon. A gallon of unleaded gas is averaging $2.99 in Idaho compared with a national average of $2.68.

Softening the blow, somewhat, is news that Boise is one of the safest driving cities in the United States. The Allstate Insurance Company released its sixth annual "America's Best Drivers Report," citing Boise as the third-safest in the nation. Boise trails only Fort Collins, Colo. and Chattanooga, Tenn. According to Allstate, the likelihood of a Boise driver being involved in a collision is 22.3 percent less than the national average. Allstate also reports that Boise drivers average 12.9 years between collisions.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boise State, CWI Mull Funding for Public Transit

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 10:15 AM

A decision is expected by Wednesday, Sept. 1, on funding for Route 45, the popular Boise State Express operated by Valley Regional Transit. Currently, VRT runs six round-trips daily between Boise State and College of Western Idaho's Nampa campus. Both institutions provide a funding match for the route. VRT officials said if the schools come in at 2010 funding levels, at least one trip will be lost.

Public comments about other route changes have altered VRT's plan to cut services. Originally, a number of routes were to be cut at the beginning and end of the day. But public comment sent transportation planners back to the whiteboard where they decided to spread cuts throughout the day.

For example, Route 40, better known as the Nampa Meridian Express was originally slated to see its 5:25 a.m. route slashed, but medical professionals voiced their opposition and the route was saved. However, VRT officials say effective Monday, Oct. 4, at least four routes on the Nampa/Caldwell fixed-line service and two routes of intercounty service will be eliminated.

Full details are available at

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Proposed Roadblocks for Nine Popular Bus Routes

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Every weekday, the No. 45 Express runs six round trips, shuttling scores of students and workers between the College of Western Idaho's Nampa campus and Boise State. But that could end in a couple of months, if Valley Regional Transit doesn't come up with a "Plan B."

The No. 45 is just one of nine routes that could be eliminated or reduced by the VRT. The transit agency is blaming shrinking funds from local governments and expanding costs for leasing buses. The proposed cuts primarily impact Canyon County routes.

Before making its final decision in mid August, the public gets a chance to weigh in on the matter. The first opportunity is Thursday, July 22 at Nampa City Hall. A 5 p.m. open house precedes a public hearing slated for 7 p.m. More feedback will be gathered at sessions at Meridian City Hall next Tuesday, July 27, at the Old Trolley House in Middleton next Wednesday, July 28 and at the Caldwell police station on next Thursday, July 29.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's In A Name? Transit vs. Public Transportation

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 12:57 PM

A new subcommittee of Gov. Butch Otter’s Transportation Funding Task Force met for the first time last night to tackle public transportation, but it took members a sizable chunk of time to figure out just what they were talking about.

Ken Burgess, a lobbyist for Treasure Valley metro planning group COMPASS, interjected about mid-way into the meeting that committee members were missing the finer points of the terms “public transportation” and “transit,” and they ought to put the brakes on the former.

“There’s a bit of a semantic issue here,” Burgess said. “The word ‘transit’ conjures up the image of a bullet train from Nampa to Boise. Public transportation is a lot more than that.”

Subcommittee Chairman David Bennion, a retired CH2M Hill executive, jumped on the idea.

“It’s not a speeding train between Nampa and Boise,” Bennion said. “That picture has set this process back.”

Presumably, Bennion meant that rail—especially high-speed—is just too unrealistic for lawmakers and local officials to consider, even in the Treasure Valley. They’d rather envision buses, vanpools or park-and-ride programs.

“It’s been a bit of a dream in Idaho,” Burgess added. “That’s a long way off.”

With high-speed rail thoroughly chastised, committee members unofficially agreed to correct themselves for the remainder of the two-hour get together, switching from “transit” to “public transportation” or, in the case of ITD Public Transportation Administrator Randy Kyrias, “mobility networks,” to include any conceivable method of conveyance that relies on public funds.

“The perspective people in Idaho have is if it has wheels we’ll count it,” Kyrias said.

Commuteride, vanpool and car pool programs in the Wood River Valley and McCall areas earned especially high marks, but Kyrias added those systems grew organically, and the state shouldn’t be seen pushing any particular transit mode on communities or "railroading" connections between individual systems.

“There are really creative things going on in rural areas,” Kyrias said. “[But] we don’t want to force it.“ At the same time, though, there’s an effort on to “weave the entire state together,” he said.

Faced with a balancing act between respect for local control and the state’s need for more public transportation, committee member Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, spoke what was apparently the unspeakable.

“I’ll just say the words out loud: local option, or as I call it, home rule,” he said. “Whether they use it or not is their choice.”

Bennion concluded the meeting with a warning that recommendations coming out of the subcommittee shouldn’t affect the dollars going to maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

“The kneejerk reaction of people is: ‘I like my car, I like my roads to drive on and Ada County deal with your own damn problems,’” he said. “You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul.”

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Masons behind future Boise bus/train station

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 2:10 PM

citydesk has been following the latest developments in the proposed on-street/off-street transit center (bus station?) for downtown Boise, but we have not been too clear on who has been pulling the strings. Is it the mayor, the CCDC, the bus company?

We were still unclear until just now, when the mayor's weekly call log came across the internets. The real puppet master on the proposed Boise multi-modal center is, who else, the Masons! 
Matt Laurance, Masonic Temple Building, 215 N. 10th St.
Transit Center: The Masons are a not for profit organization, but we do own storefronts on Bannock and 10th Street. We’re really concerned that we just will not be able to lease those retail spaces to retail spaces if the new alternative location for the public transportation project goes in. In my opinion, site H, the one that’s already gone through environmental impact studies and what not, is a far better location. So, basically established businesses seem to be up against one large speculative developer on this issue. These established businesses are retail and we’re all very fragile financially; we’re in a tough economy, and I personally really support public transportation in Boise; I think it’s desperately needed. You do need to do something and site H is the right spot to do it in. I hate to think of a person who is the owner behind the Rafanelli and Nahas proposed developments as having so much individual power that they could make a speculative development more important than smaller established retail businesses. I really would love to talk to somebody in the Mayor’s office about this or the City Council. The complete issue is lack of parking. Thank you.
Action Taken: contacted
BW will get to the bottom of this. Stay tuned...

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Friday, November 14, 2008

FTA reaffirms Buy American on locomotive bids

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 3:27 PM

The U.S. Department of Transportation's transit arm has denied a request from Boston's T to allow two pilot locomotives to be built across the pond.

A Boise company had bid against a German-Spanish firm for the large contract. The foreign firm wanted to assemble the first two locomotives in the 28-car order overseas, in violation of the Federal Transit Administration's "Buy America" requirements.

But the FTA, in a letter to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Daniel A. Grabauskas, denied a waiver of the protectionist provisions for federal funding of transit projects.

"Absent factors like safety or the introduction of significant new technology, FTA has consistently denied public interest waiver requests predicated on a cost saving of less than 25 percent," FTA Deputy Administrator Sherry E. Little wrote.

MBTA flak Joe Pesaturo told citydesk in an email that the FTA letter is still being reviewed: "Our procurement team will meet on Monday to discuss the MBTA's options, and decide what future course of action is in the best interest of the Authority, fare-payers, and Massachusetts taxpayers."

Asked whether the decision takes Vossloh España S.A. out of the running for the contract, Pesaturo repeated himself in classic Masshole e-mail form: "Our procurement team will meet on Monday to discuss the MBTA's options,and decide what future course of action is in the best interest of the Authority, fare-payers, and Massachusetts taxpayers."

The other company, Boise-based MotivePower, drew support from two members of Idaho's congressional delegation and from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

“It would be a travesty to use American taxpayer dollars and a loophole in American law to allow this sophisticated technology and the jobs related to it to be lost to overseas competitors. We are pleased with the FTA’s ruling,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo stated.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Downtown train tours today

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 8:10 AM

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter will lead two tours today of a proposed downtown streetcar route. Tours are 10:45-11:15, 11:15-11:45 and then 1:15-1:45 and 1:45-2:15. Apparently stops are marked in orange according to the map above. The mayor, BSU professor Todd Shallatt, representatives of CCDC and of Mark Rivers downtown incubator the Water Cooler will be along for the tour.

By the way, the city wants a train, but for the tour today, look for a bus with a big blue sign.

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