Environment

Die Hard Bronco Fans

No doubt about it, the smoke from forest fires is settling into the Boise valley. All the experts at DEQ acknowledge the fact, but they also caution that “already dirty air” is being trapped beneath the smoke. Dirty from too many people driving too many cars too far.
Boise Smoke.jpg

Comes now the cheerleaders for growth and football fans. The GUARDIAN wonders if the “National Exposure” on ESPN that is always touted as worth hundreds of thousands to the economy will cause the same monetary LOSS when the world sees how filthy the Boise Valley can be–naturally. When ESPN does that long shot of the sun filtered through the smoke or the copper colored full moon will it cause “bad exposure?”

Hard to put much stock in dire warnings from the Boise Schools when they keep the kids inside and curtail athletics due to health concerns, but a college football game forges ahead because ESPN has spent so much money to air (smoke?) the game.

When the crowds file into the stadium tonight to watch the football game through the haze it will add new meaning to the phrase, “DIE HARD BRONCO FANS.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. And to think my Mom taught me not to smoke!

  2. ESPN will protect their investment…. will be spin Dr. statement about how terrible and unusual it is the west is burning….and oh what a beutiful sunset!!

  3. With any luck, the wind will shift and bring some rain and clean the air.

    Then leave it to the announcers to lament that there’s no smoke to show, but maybe a fire will break out, or the wind will shift or something and make it all smokey again, and make for some great viewing for all you viewers out there in tEE-vEE laNd.

  4. I had the same thoughts about tonight’s game, Guardian. I cancelled a golf game this morning and a trip to volunteer at the Democratic headquarters because I didn’t want to go out. If the air is as bad tonight as it was last night perhaps a few hundred thousand people will rethink moving here. That would be a good thing. In addition, if EMTs have to haul gasping people out of the stands at the game tonight perhaps some of the folks who moved here recently will go back to wherever they came from – at least anyone with lung problems.

    The strangest thing I have seen this week was in a nearby car where an older lady was lighting up a cigarette. She could have saved money by simply hanging her head out the window. It was actually painful to watch.

  5. junkyard dog
    Sep 7, 2006, 2:44 pm

    just marvelous…we’re looking more and more like LA every day. And this is progress?

  6. Go Broncos! Cough…cough!:)

  7. Not too long ago I saw news headlines “Why do non-smokers develop lung cancer?” Great photo to go with the old headline!

  8. j dog – if you don’t think that this is progress then you have not read how great Boise is from the view of the the National Geographic’s California visitor.

    s’cuse me, I must go cough up a lung.

  9. my nose is running and my eyes are red and itchy-game on! what a joke.

  10. Sorry, went home and lit up both BBQs to cook dinner. The burgers,corn and veggies taste great. It does make the pedal home a little hard.

  11. I remember hearing about how all this pollution talk was just that – talk.

    Well, for all those who don’t think a jillion cars and a few forest fires are that bad a thing…go run a half marathon in this crap.

  12. Somebody tried to tell me that this smoke is because of forest fires! Come on… forest fires are normal in western states this time of year! It’s cars, growth, subdivisions, California, roads! And it’s TERRIBLE.

    Forest fires. Big deal. Heck, they’re happening out of town, anyway!

  13. The quality of life!
    Where have I heard that?

  14. Here’s a couple of ” common sense” solutions for the terrible pollution we experience constantly in the treasure valley.
    1. We need a better bus system, working on a grid pattern,That runs from say 6 AM to 9 PM at least in City limits . We have got to get our State, county and city officials to figure out how to fund this.I believe the Citizens would be willing to pay a ” local option tax ” to accomplish such a positive goal.
    2.we need a mass transit system that can get people from Boise to every community going west as far as Star.Portland uses a ” light rail” trolley system.It runs on a frequent basis and gets People to every suburb of Portland.
    3.Every community in the treasure valley needs to have yearly inspections of cars to make sure they are as close to pollution free as possible. I’ve seen cars in Boise laying down smoke screens and a stink that hangs in the air we are all breathing.

  15. Pat – Not sure how a BILLION dollar system that must be taxpayer subsidized by a BILLION dollar tax increase will help keep smoke from forest fires from clouding the valley skies.

  16. Joe – have you seen the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car”? well, just think about it….who keeps killing the mass transit system the few keep asking about?

    I think that this past week’s smoke is just a preview, a warning of what is to come, what is to be the air in this valley as the population and their cars, etc. roll in along with their “if you think this air is bad, well you should just see what it’s like where I come from…” – as if that makes this muck breathable.

  17. Many years ago, Boise had a trolley/rail system that ran from Warm Springs west at least as far as Pierce Park. Seems to me there was some kind of rail service to towns beyond, too. And, of course, Greyhounds, Trailways and Amtrak for longer-distance travel. Where have they all gone?

    Yep, the city (and others) tore out the rails cuz they wanted everybody to use cars. Amtrak deserted us because of some political shenanigans (There official reason was: Not enough passengers. That announcement came not long after my wife and I rode Amtrak from Boise to Washington, D.C. and back — a delightful trip, even though we had to sit up three of the six nights we were on the rail because no more beds were available. There were a few seats available, but a nearly full train. Well, if there were “not enough passengers,” perhaps that was because there were not enough cars to carry anymore.

    As far as re-establishing mass transit — yes, it’s expensive, but if the state can dream up umpteen dollars every year to keep building more and more highways to carry more and more cars, it might be more sensible to spend those dollars on a good light-rail system instead.

    Then, if each city had a decent bus system (which none in the area does) to get folks from the train stops to wherever they need to go, we wouldn’t need to keep building so many roads.

    Heck, we might not even have to build a special spur track to the governor’s playground.

  18. I’m an old Boise busman and this light rail talk makes we want to kick the fare box.

    Folks, get real. Boise (let alone the “Treasure Valley”) isn’t big enough to support a light rail system. Maybe in the future, but not now. Heck, it barely has the population (or more importantly the population density) to support a bus system. Valley Ride has trouble deciding what name to go by let alone develop and operate a functional transit system.

    Here are some facts. In the late 1970s Boise had a viable bus system. It was one of the 10 fastest growing in all of the US for three straight years. It carried over 1 million fare-paying passengers in both 1980 and 1981 or about 10 trips per capita. Passengers paid almost 25% of the operating cost. Not bad for a city with a population of about 100,000 and a low population density.

    Fast forward 25 years. What do we have? A population of about 200,000 and a bus system that carries about 600,000 maybe 700,000 passengers a year. That works out to about 3 trips per capita. Passengers pay, at best, about 15% of the operating cost. According to Federal reports the hourly cost to operate a bus in Boise is about $60.

    Valley Ride (or whatever name they are going by this week), and before them Boise City, have managed to camouflage ridership numbers over the years in various ways – BSU contracts, contracts with school districts, etc.

    It’s time to start thinking out of the(fare) box when it comes to public transportation in the valley. Car pools, van pools, jitneys, taxis, charter bus service direct to major employers, staggered work hours, bus rapid transit, direct subsidization of transit by major employers (read C of C members), etc. Progressive thinking is something that transit planners, Valley Ride officials, and local public officials can’t seem to do. At this time, a light rail system isn’t the answer. Preserving the right-of-way is important.

    Contrary to popular thinking, a “real” public transportation would have done little to improve the current air quality problem in the Valley.

    Let’s get real. Let’s plan a transportation system with a vision for the future, not on what has happened in the past.

  19. 4523A confuses me.
    He says we ain’t big enuff for light rail. Probably true, but negativism about any possibility ain’t gonna help Toss ‘em all on the table and let’s talk.

    Yeah, granted, when the area did have the Interurban rail, it was a whole lot less population, so I don’t know what that means, except perhaps that just population numbers alone don’t tell us anything for sure. He even points out that when we had fewer people 20-some years ago, we somehow managed to support a much better bus system.
    Argh! Math!

    Anyway, then he ends with “Let’s get real. Let’s plan a transportation system with a vision for the future, not on what has happened in the past.”

    Duh. How else can we plan for the future without looking at
    what happened in the past — and what’s happening in the present. ‘Tis said that he who fails to learn from the past is doomed to repeat it, so we gotta at least look at it and try to figure out all the reasons the InterUrban and the 1980s good bus system fell apart, then see if we can construct something that will be more durable.

    Sure, more van pools, staggered work hours and all those other suggestions are good ones, and definitely would help, but it seems unlikely we could get enough of them functioning to make a really big dent in the problem.

    Still, no matter what the real answer is (or answers are), the one thing I’m sure of is that just continuing to pave over the state ain’t working and ain’t likely to. We build more roads; more people use ‘em — so we build more roads, more people use ‘em … ad nauseum.

    Ah, hell, it don’t matter. If the Arabs and the hurricanes and the pipe leaks don’t cut our oil supply down to almost nothing, probably something else will. Then maybe we’ll actually figure out how to avoid having to drive everywhere, including to work at jobs where we just sit at a computer just like the one we could have sat at at home, or how to live within walking distance of work as most people did a century or two ago, or …

    Hey, I don’t know. If I did, I’d be recognized as the world’s greatest genius, which I sure ain’t. I’m just another guy bitching and kicking around ideas, the same as the rest of y’all.

  20. The only way that a rail system will be created is with a BILLION dollar tax increase. A bigger bus sytem (that very few would ride) would be slightly less – but still need massive amounts of tax money.

    The idea of a local option tax for transit is just another way for cities and the ACHD to grab money and mis-manage it as they do now.

    The local governments have reemed us on propoerty taxes we do not need to have them take even more money.

  21. First, congratulations to the Guardian for a first rate photo. Not only does it show very graphically how poor the air quality is (or was) but it also shows very graphically how the view shed has deteriorated from the Depot to the Capitol.

    Gordon, the perceived negativism of one person is the view of reality by another person. Sorry to confuse you but the point I am trying to make is that light rail is not the cure all for the transportation woes of the Valley. Some of our elected leaders (and the C of C) would like us to believe that it is. All they need is some (local option) tax money with no strings attached (read accountability) and all the transportation problems will be solved. All we have to do is trust them. It’s also a popular public perception that a light rail system would cure our transportation woes.

    Convince me light rail is a cost effective transportation mode and I’ll support it. Don’t ask me to support it for nostalgia sake. So far, the Valley Ride light rail report of a few years ago leaves me in the non – supporter category. You might want to take a look at the report some time.

    As one who worked in the public transit industry for a number of years, I know public officials are attempting to sell us a system that is very expensive to build, operate, and maintain. A light rail system will have little impact on mitigating traffic congestion and air quality problems. The Valley Ride report seems to support that contention. I am not saying take light rail off the discussion table. I am saying that light rail is not appropriate for the Valley at this time so let’s not spend a lot of time and money on it now. Yes, we do need to preserve the right-of-way for the future but there are other cheaper and more effective transportation systems out there.

    The Valley did have a great privately owned (Idaho Power) interurban and local street railway system until about 1930. When it couldn’t turn a profit, for whatever reason, it died. Yes, the population was less then (under 50,000), there probably were fewer cars and the road network was probably different. But let’s not dwell on past.

    Some of the alternative measures I suggested are already in place, working, and making a dent. Vanpools are an example.

    The reality is public transit will not make a significant impact on either traffic or air quality. For the last 30 years the transit planners have been setting a goal of having alternative transportation capture 10% of all trips in the Valley. The reality – less than 1% of trips use alternative modes of transportation.

    As to the past, yes we do need to look at it but not dwell on it. Transit planners and public officials have a severe tendency to look at the past and recreate the same broken wheel – i.e., light rail, buses operating on fix routes, etc. – under a new label with all the attending hype of how it will work this time. I’ve seen “demonstration” projects here in the Valley declared successes by public officials when in fact they were failures.

    I agree with you that an ever expanding road system is not the solution to traffic and air quality concerns. I just advocate that we need to think outside the (fare) box in developing better overall transportation solutions. Let’s not reinvent, and relabel, the old stuff.

    And yes, I have spoken with the folks at Valley Ride. Basically, they have their agenda set and don’t want to hear anything that doesn’t support their grandiose plans. As others have said at public meetings, Valley Ride doesn’t want to listen to or be responsive to its (potential) customer base.

    A transportation system has only one thing to offer to its potential customers – service. If a system has designated a target market it wants to reach, offers routes and schedules that meet most of the public need, has clean well maintained vehicles, courteous employees, and is perceived as being responsive to public input then passengers will come and the system will be successful. That formula can work just as well now as it did in the late 1970s. It’s basic business.

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