ACHD Chair Snubs Citizens, Denies Comments

Ada County Highway District Chairman Carol McKee went back on her word Thursday and snubbed at least two citizens who wished to share their thoughts about a proposed street closure relating to a “multimodal transportation center downtown.”

When GUARDIAN readers expressed an interest in speaking at a Thursday joint meeting of the Boise City Council and Ada County Highway Commishes, the GUARDIAN contacted the ACHD and was told Chairman Carol McKee anticipated public interest and would make time available for citizens to speak. To preclude the exact treatment the citizens got, we asked an ACHD staffer for a firm committment and that’s what we got.

We posted the ALLOW COMMENT story and at least two readers attended the meeting ready to speak. One prepped several hours the night before with some brief comments and took unpaid time off his job to attend the noon meeting. ACHD Chairman Carol McKee snubbed both of the concerned citizens and made no time available for public comment.

When we contacted her with our concerns, she said there was time only for the elected officials to speak and she “had to finish the meeting by 1p.m.” Earlier this week ACHD Commish Sherry Huber had said, with regard to the issue of closing 10th street and a downtown trolley scheme being touted by Boise’s Team Dave, “They may have everything all decided, but we have a higher standard of public input.” NOT!

We applauded Sherry’s stand, but apparently we were premature. Her board did noting to include the public in the early planning and allowed the city to steam roll over them and direct staff to forge ahead. No one at ACHD or the city sought public comment.

If they had just listened, they would have learned there is a growing momentum against closing 10th street to make an on-street transit mall. A petition is being circulated among downtown merchants protesting the proposal, but officialdom won’t listen.

If the trolley is NOT a done deal, why are they calling it an “Intermodal” center? It should be nothing more than a bus station as there is no logical reason to plant steel rails in our streets to serve downtown. As it stands, officials are proceeding based only on information from those who are pushing for the scheme.

Rome bans cars in the center of the old city in favor of small electric buses. For our money you don’t have to be in Rome to do as the Romans do. Rubber tire buses would be much more efficient and flexible for moving people downtown than disruptive fixed iron rails.

Daily Paper reporter Cynthia Sewell came through again with a story that 10th Street businessmen are NOT HAPPY with the prospect of exhaust fumes filling their shops and rows of buses creating an obstacle course for customers. Few businesses want to be located adjacent to heavy concentrations of engine fumes and noise. These businessmen claim they were never consulted prior to the proposed relocation of a transit center.

Based on our reader’s treatment, transit officials continued their disdain for transparency Thursday.

ACHD Commish SARA BAKER’S BLOG discusses the issue, explaining the “rush to judgement” is motivated by a deadline for spending Federal funds. Wow! We gotta hurry up and make an uninformed decision because transit officials failed to act in a timely manner. She also notes businesses opposed to the plan have contacted her.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. If they want our comments and opinions they will give them to us!

    Public meetings are perfuntory exercises to meet some obscure legal punch list.

    The little people stuck with paying the bills should just stay home and be quiet.

  2. I told you they don’t follow their own rules. Just like the City Council they could care less about listening to tax payers unless they are up for election. Time to replace them – please!

  3. And the beat goes on…

  4. At least they are talking to each other at some level. Albeit that discussion is with complete disdain
    toward the citizens.
    Has anyone approached these people with a “trial balloon” type compromise? Why wouldn’t we bring back the rubber wheeled circulator and run it along the proposed route for a year, or so, and see what kind of response it gets? That would establish if it is really needed and get more people behind it if it is functional. That way we wouldn’t have to spend 10’s of millions of dollars if it is indeed a boondoggle!

  5. “Few businesses want to be located adjacent to heavy concentrations of engine fumes and noise.”

    What few business remain on 10th St would appear to exactly the ones that would benefit from a traffic mall. Macy’s, Coffee Shops, Bars, Casual Dining…

    By-the-By, CNG Fuel = Little-to-No exhaust. And noise? Turn the engine off when standing.

    I’m constantly amazed by the short term thinking encountered. Like when the Flying M Coffee House on Idaho (otherwise an ostensibly socially conscious company) bitched and moaned about loosing 2 or 3 Metered Parking Spaces to accommodate a Bus Stop in Front of their place.

    What… Bus riders don’t drink coffee? Try telling that to Dawson’s, Thomas Hammer and Starbuck’s.

    Granted, the vast majority of Boiseans would rather be boiled in oil alive than ** gasp ** set foot on public transportation, and the public perception is often one where the only users of public transportation are immigrants, freaks, people who have lost their licenses, etc., AND the powers that be have really screwed the pooch on this; but most opposition I see to resolving this issue smacks of elitism and shortsightedness.

    Regardless, I reiterate my long time suggestion that the SW Corner of 9th & Front is an outstanding place for a traffic mall – with easy access to all streets and the connector – that could (should?) eventually incorporate rail, park-and-ride, taxi stands, etc…

    Oh… Wait a minute. That’s where the CCDC / Gbad / DBA want to put a new convention center in direct opposition to voter’s wishes and their originally stated goals.

    Silly me.

  6. Mr. Murphy… you mention clean-burning CNG. Indeed, I’ve always considered it the best possible fuel. (I bicycle a lot… and when you come up behind a CNG bus, the smell reminds me of a camp stove! That’s a much happier smell than an ol’ tractor or Mack truck – that’s what most buses smell like.)

    SO – I was baffled when ValleyRide recently announced they were replacing CNG buses with what they called “clean-burning diesel” buses, like it would be a boon for the environment. I’m not buyin’.

  7. Update…

    Apparently, the aforementioned sight has never even been considered by the powers that be.

    How could that be?

    Commissioner Baker emailed me back, that:

    “We are having a VRT meeting and I’ll suggest your location.”

    From a purely logistical and LOGICAL perspective, I think they would be hard pressed to find a better location.


    Having emailed Councilman Shealy [ [email protected] ] about this issue, I recieved nasty replies from him or his assistant @ Claremont Partners (insomuch as he apparently intermingles his official email with his private email account) that he was essentially not interested and that they would block my email address from their server.

    More of the elitist behavior we’ve come to expect from the good Mr. Shealy, as any regular reader of the Boise Guardian knows [ ].

  8. Just a bit of a “teaser” for The Guardian, Mz. Sewell, Sara, or Sharon.
    You may want to do a little “research” and find out “why” the CNG buses burned.

  9. Cyclops, why don’t you just go ahead and tell us why the cng buses burned.

  10. Well, at least we have this forum to comment. Maybe the commissioners and public will read them?

  11. Tom Anderson
    Feb 14, 2009, 12:31 pm

    All this talk of exploding CNG buses…

    This is one of the many problems with which the fictional ‘hydrogen economy’ is plagued. Compressed hydrogen, when released by a motor vehicle accident, would create a fast expanding gas cloud that would have a high likelihood of exploding when the air / fuel mixture reached the right ratio.

    The ensuing explosion would be horrific, and a ruptured full tank could easily kill everyone anywhere near the accident site.

    Not too many people would want to haul their loved ones around in a bomb of this magnatude when violent explosions started being showcased on the 5 O’clock news.

    But, of course we all new the ‘hydrogen economy’ was just a construct of big oil used to promise us a bright new ‘clean’ energy future looming right around the corner.

  12. “ACHD Commish SARA BAKER’S BLOG discusses the issue, explaining the “rush to judgement” is motivated by a deadline for spending Federal funds. Wow! We gotta hurry up and make an uninformed decision because transit officials failed to act in a timely manner. She also notes businesses opposed to the plan have contacted her”

    So what…the Congress just spent $1,300,000,000,000 in a 1073 page bill they had received less than an hour before debate and 6 hours before the vote. Not a single person in Congress had read the thing!

    Our local folk are simply following the lead of their betters.

    EDITOR NOTE– Spoken like a true liberal Jim! You have seen the light.

  13. Damn the people, I mean torpedoes, full speed ahead!

  14. Will this trolley have a toot-toot horn? I love toot-toot horns, and I will be riding it all the time just to hear the toot-toots.

  15. Guardian, I admire your eternal optimism:
    a public official said they would accept public comment, and you apparently thought that meant they would actually accept public comment.
    Be careful, or you’ll start thinking that when a public official says, this project won’t cost the taxpayers, that the statement means the project won’t cost the taxpayers.

    As for the buses: Didn’t they say there were “clean burning”? Well, they were clean, and they burned, didn’t they?

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