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ACHD Ponders Bridge To Nowhere

The ‘Bridge to Nowhere.” Private or public?

A citizens group known as ACHD COMMUNITY WATCHDOGS has a Facebook page full of items relating to the Ada County Highway District. A recent entry questioned a bridge over the Ridenbaugh Canal on the south side of Franklin Road at the dead end of Thomas Dr.

Signs on gate blocking street.

The bridge issue is on the Wednesday agenda and is up for discussion regarding at least $30,000 in repairs and expansion. The GUARDIAN visited the bridge which is adorned with a “NO TRESPASSING” sign. It seems counterintuitive for ACHD to discuss spending public money on a private bridge. Thomas Dr. runs up hill on the south side of Franklin Rd., east of Cloverdale. It ends at a “T” with gates and more “private property no trespassing” signs at each end of the “T.”

The waters get muddier. We visited ACHD and viewed their computer maps which are used to determine right-of-way and property ownership. According to the ACHD maps,the roadway behind the private gate is owned by ACHD.

ACHD map indicates street at bottom right behind the gate is public.

It may just be a matter of a clerical error, a mapping mistake, or an unofficial action that creates the dichotomy, but if the roads are private above the canal, it would seem questionable for the public to pay for a private bridge. If the bridge and roads are actually public, the gates would appear improper.

NOTE–Check the comments below. GUARDIAN Reader Emonn Harter did some cursory on-line research and reports “the property owners served by Thomas Dr. are, Charles W. Fawcett, Rebecca W. Arnold, WDM Trust, Donald C. Barksdale, and Winston H. Moore. Arnold is the ACHD commissioner for the 2nd district and also general counsel for the W.H. Moore Company.”

UPDATE–11/13/18 GUARDIAN readers Tucker and Clancy Anderson shared the following letter they sent to the ACHD commishes today:

Tucker Anderson
Clancy Anderson
November 12, 2018
Ada County Highway District
Board of Commissioners
Garden City, ID
RE: Thomas Drive Bridge Project
President Baker and Commissioners,
We are concerned that an upcoming decision is being rushed thru that may need additional consideration or to allow the public input on the spending of public funds. The project in question is the widening of the Thomas Drive bridge. The agenda item for Wednesday’s meeting does not even have a link to a packet with additional info. Additionally, this project seemed to be added suddenly and does not show up on the ACHD Integrated Five Year Work Plan.

If you are not familiar, this bridge is served by a narrow road that crosses the Ridenbaugh Canal. As you cross the bridge you are met with No Trespassing signs that were posted by ACHD. Once you are across the bridge, there is a T-intersection that has gates on either leg with a multitude of signs warning that this is private property beyond the gates. From all the data posted online, bridge reports and GIS, it
appears this bridge and the road behind the gates are owned by ACHD; yet there was a request to vacate the road in March of 2008 per info retrieved from the City of Boise website. It is unclear if this request to vacate was finalized, but as mentioned prior this road right of way still shows as public. The gate has been across Thomas Drive since at least 2010 but could be earlier based on comments from prior residents as discussed on the Boise Guardian webpage.

Regardless of the status of the road, the estimated cost to widen may not fully account for the true costs of widening the bridge. These include survey and inspection of existing conditions, design/engineering and finally construction costs. The $30,000 budgeted seems to only account for the costs to widen and not any design costs up to date. This number may not reflect the actual cost based on future capacity or current Fire Codes.

While is unclear the current need to widen the bridge, any work that utilizes public funds should plan for future capacity. This is evident on other projects when ACHD is looking past 2030 to ensure adequate capacity. In the 2040 plan, there is a future collector shown that could easily connect to current stubs that are in the subdivision to the south of the properties that are accessed from Thomas Drive.

We would hope the Boise Fire Department has weighed in on several items prior to spending the publics money. The road, turn around, gate width, access and such should also meet the current version of the Fire Codes that are currently enforced.

If the turnaround or road needed to be widened, then those
costs also should be included in the actual costs of the projects.

What is evident is who lives behind the gate. Both Commissioner Arnold and her current employer, Winston Moore have houses on Thomas Drive based on records from the Ada County Assessor. Based on prior emails that were retrieved via a FOIA request, the discussion of a bridge has been in the works since the beginning of the year, if not prior. This set of emails included Winston Moore, Commissioner Arnold (using her personal email) and Director Wong.

· Jan 12th, Director Wong visits the bridge location to meet Winston Moore and potentially some neighbors. (based on an email arraigning the visit)
· January 30th, Director Wong replies to Mr. Moore that both engineers and maintenance staff had been researching the issues of the bridge and have started to identify costs.
· June 21st, Director Wong replies to Mr. Moore that the design of the bridge is almost ready for review and it will be shared to Mr. Moore
· July 2nd Sign is in works to help keep traffic off Thomas Drive (suggestion by Moore and agreed upon by Arnold).
· July 11th signs are installed based on an email from Mr. Moore.

This use of a personal email address by a public employee should also raise concern that public business
is being conducted via a method that could be shielded from being freely available by the public for inspection via the Idaho Public Record Act.

At the very least, Commissioner Arnold should recuse herself from this vote. She not only lives on Thomas Drive, but has received campaign contributions from her employer Winston Moore, another Thomas Drive resident.

Boise Voters Split North-South On Many Issues

Like the American Civil War, Boise seems to exhibit a North-South split on most issues.

This was the race for governor, but it was similar for most races.

We noticed the Dem-Repub split not only on the race for Governor, but also on propositions, ACHD vehicle fee hike, and other county-wide races. The “north end” influence is nothing new, but to see such a distinct split north of the Boise River is fascinating.

Think about it. Is it religion, schools, trees, income levels? How are like minded people grouped in such a tight geographical area?

The GUARDIAN was glad to see the developers and contractors wasted their profits supporting the unfair vehicle fee hike which would have raised registration fees 70% while exempting those over 8,000 pounds. Now it is time for the legislature to come up with a law that will allow ACHD to tax ALL vehicles in a fair manner to fund the growth created by local governments.

Unless there are some political appointments, Ada County Commishes Jim Tibbs and Dave Case have ended their political partnership after losing elections to women. Tibbs was ousted by Diana Lachiondo, a staffer in Mayor Dave Bieter’s office. She will be joined by Kendra Kenyon who beat Sharon Ullman. Ullman won over Case in the primary.

One of the big items to face the new commissioners will be the fate of Les Boise Park at the fair grounds. Voters soundly defeated a measure to legalize “historical racing” slot-machine. If claims by supporters are true, horse racing is dead at Les Bois.

Finally, the biggest winners in this huge election were the TV and radio stations. They made millions of dollars airing all the ads.


Woman Injured By Dinosaur That Scootered Away

It finally happened last Sunday in Boise, not Jurassic Park. The first injury accident with one of those e-scooters took place at 6th and Front Streets in Boise. Witnesses said it was a hit-and-run dinosaur. Here is the official police report:

Boise Police and the City of Boise continue to monitor E-Scooter use across the city and educate users on safe ridership when appropriate. To date, BPD has taken one police report. In that report, a 59-year-old woman was injured and BPD is now asking the public for help with the investigation.

What Happened: On 10/28/18 around 2:00 p.m. a 59-year-old woman, walking in a crosswalk on 6th Street across Front Street, was struck by a man who had fallen off a scooter. The man was riding as a passenger on the scooter when he fell off. After he crashed into the woman, knocking her down, the man got back on the scooter with the female driver and they fled. The victim received minor injuries and was taken by paramedics to the hospital. The man on the scooter was dressed in a dinosaur costume and the woman on the scooter was dressed as Rainbow Brite (cartoon character for you oldsters). It’s unknown what type or brand of electric scooter they were riding.

Boise City Code states that no E-Scooter shall be used to carry more than one (1) person at a time. Anyone operating an E-Scooter in a manner that endangers or likely endangers a person or property can be charged with misdemeanor reckless or inattentive operation.

For more information about the proper use of E-Scooters please visit

Business Interests Double Down On Unfair ACHD Fee Hike

Looks like the business community has ponied up more than $180,000 in the move to convince Ada County Highway District voters to pass a 70% vehicle fee hike that exempts the heavyweights over 8,000 lbs.

The Idaho STATESMAN’S Sven Berg reports on the latest contributions and it leaves little doubt where the loyalties of the ACHD are based.

The developers, contractors, and other business interests favor the increase on the backs of the little guys to “pave the way,” for even more development increases in Ada County.

The GUARDIAN reiterates our plea to vote against the fee hike if you haven’t already voted. Two Ada County legislators are working on a bill which would include fees on trucks up to 60,000 lbs. driven locally.

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