Engineering Boise Rail Line

Through a $2,000,000 purchase and subsequent donations, Boise acquired about 18 miles of rail line from the Union Pacific in 2000. It was part of a grand “Industrial Park” development scheme of the previous administration at taxpayer expense.

The rail in question runs along the east end of Federal Way to the Union Pacific mainline in the desert near the Boise Stage Stop truck stop.
During the same time frame Boise councilors spent taxpayer funds to speculate on more than 200 acres of desert land near the Outlet Mall south of the airport. The land and the “Railroad to Nowhere” have been the source of a long political football game.

Sometimes the city is going to get out of the land speculation business and sell the land to fund libraries etc. Other times they are leasing land to avoid the laws requiring open bidding. No doubt about it, for better or worse they are aiming to attract more business and increase the population after using current taxes to fund improvements for new business interests.

The GUARDIAN obtained a CITY PRESENTATION on a potential freight train operation through the public information law. It was presented to the city council in June 2007. In September, according to TRAINS Magazine, the city of Boise filed for an application to operate freight trains on the 18 mile line. The city has quietly hired consultants and will be looking at improving the tracks at public expense. No telling who will get to drive the train.

If the tracks and industrial park were worthwhile, the Union Pacific would never have gotten rid of them. This looks like more of the obsession for trains.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. “Who will get to drive the train?”


    Mayor Bieter, of course!

    (And I bet poor ol’ Mayor Brent is avocado-green with envy!)

  2. I would love to be “aghast” at such actions!
    But there is no longer ANYTHING that this mayor and a majority of the council could do that comes even close to being surprising!

    Why don’t we put some money in a pot and go buy him a Lionel train set with one of those dorky hats, have him set it up in his office and just close his door for the next four years.

  3. Inside City Hall
    Jan 20, 2008, 12:10 am

    Keep digging on this…you are just scratching the surface. You need to look at who gets paid by whom and how the contract with the train operators are being cut. Also where the money will go in city and if, in fact it is lawful for a city to enter into such an arrangement as this.

  4. the_watcher
    Jan 20, 2008, 3:21 pm

    Didn’t get much purchase on this one did you Boise Guardian?

    To clarify, I don’t think this is an accurate statement, “If the tracks and industrial park were worthwhile, the Union Pacific would never have gotten rid of them.”

    Union Pacific is focusing on mainline operations nationwide, dumping short line track and ROW is consistent w/that focus and says NOTHING about the “worthwhile-ness” or viability of the track and right of way for local industrial activity.

    Anticipating the response, “if it was worthwhile the private sector would have stepped up” think about what that would mean to the long term viability of the entire Boise cutoff for passenger transit service, and admittedly it is long term (don’t get sideways on me here people…no need to bring up light rail here!). Whatever private holder would have taxpayers by the short hairs and some future blogger would be eviscerating the City for not thinking long term.

    In addition, its my recollection that UP got a fat tax break for donating some of the land to the city…don’t think that would have done that for a private firm.

    More facts, less drama.

    EDITOR NOTE–We remain concerned about “transparency” in land use decisions. Look for some grand announcement about business or BSU use of some of that land. It will be a done deal before it is announced. The GUARDIAN has been asking about the plans for the land etc. and we are told “something will be coming soon.”

    Good or bad, we deserve to know as dev elopments unfold.

  5. This sounds like a crazy idea. Banking on future customer commitments to upgrade the rails and then servicing the debt 30 years. What happens when the companies leave or close the doors? Sounds like the same sales pitch that Albertson’s and Micron use all the time.

    If there is the interest by companies, then lease the track to them for a low rate provided they do the needed improvements. Offering incentives would be much better than investing cash and creating another level of bureaucracy.

    This is a little different than Boise’s dream but interesting that a private shipper has been able to make a partnership with the UP work on a private train across the U.S. It is called Railex and transports fruits and vegetables from the West to the East.

  6. That railexusa is really interesting, Clancy. Now if they could just let a few humans squash in with the fruits and vegetables it would be even better. I would like to go east without getting on an airplane.

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