Boise Has No Authority For Trolley

Railroad tracks converge at sunset. railroad, tracks, converge, converging, transportation, train, sunset, rail, ties, infinityLooks like that pesky IDAHO CONSTITUTION has gotten in the way of Team Dave once again. Mayor Dave Bieter is set to ask the City Council Tuesday for funds for yet another street car, trolley study.

What he should be doing is sucking up to the ACHD Commishes because that group holds ALL the cards in this poker game. The big ace is the Idaho Constitution Article XI, sec. 11.

ARTICLE XI, Section 11. CONSTRUCTING RAILROAD IN CITY OR TOWN. No street, or other railroad, shall be constructed within any city, town, or incorporated village without the consent of the local authorities having the control of the street or highway proposed to be occupied by such street or other railroad.

We have written countless stories about Boise’s “Trolley Folly” which Team Dave declared was a “street car” and the GUARDIAN promptly labeled it “Desire named Street Car.” Any way you cut the deck, the City holds a losing hand.

Mayor Dave Bieter and crew has rung this bell too often. They spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on studies, promotions, open houses, surveys and EACH TIME citizens have been opposed or luke warm at best. Sure, he can study anything he wishes, but with no authority to ever build on or in our ACHD streets, such expenditures are ill advised.

Now he is asking the City Council for $437,500 to fund an analysis of a possible downtown Boise circulator system. About $375,000—would come from a Federal Transit Authority grant solicited by Senior Senator (SenSen) Mike Crapo who professes to be a fiscal conservative. The additional $125,500 would be picked up by the city of Boise and the Capital City Development Corporation, the city’s urban renewal agency–which also has no control over streets. Clearly, the dealer has the advantage and the dealer is ACHD.

For what they want to spend–including a possible circulator at BSU–we could improve the pathetic bus system. We have suggested repeatedly the city needs a decent bus system prior to planting iron rails in the streets controlled by the Ada County Highway District.

Read more for a view on a street car system already analyzed: STREET CAR FANTASY

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. David B. Hall
    Apr 29, 2013, 12:53 pm

    When I ran against Dave Bieter in the last election my main platform behind education was the transit system.
    I tried to introduce a concept called that was developed by NASA and would cost about the same per mile as an average sidewalk.
    I felt that if we could reduce the cost of both a shuttle service for BSU, Downtown, The Mall and our largest employers, we could then at the above mentioned cost, expand that system into an ever larger system, bringing in Idaho’s smaller communities an affordable and sustainable way of transit.
    This was only one of the ideas I attempted to present as a candidate for Boise’s Mayor. I hope to present this idea and more as the candidate for Idaho State Governor 2014
    Continuing to focus on systems of the past are not going to solve the issues of today. Unfortunately graft and collusion will win out in Idaho’s “Good Ol’ Boy’s Club” unless we the people chose new ideas and new leadership.
    I don’t say that as a candidate, I say that as an Idahoan, concerned with this State’s current direction (or lack thereof).
    David B. Hall
    Candidate for Idaho State Governor 2014

  2. Guardian, are you agreeable to a commuter train from 2C to Boise Depot using the current track? With expanded and better bus service/Commuterride spiking off that track?

    EDITOR NOTE–Gotta have buses first. Also, the cost to run multiple trains, construct stations, dual track, etc. are HUGE. There are 35,000 daily commuters. Absolute best public transit could do is capture 3,500 of them. Do the math for the number of 50 seat cars running to the Depot and then the 50 seat buses needed to distribute the masses once they get to Boise. That’s 70 buses–more than the current fleet–and as many train cars leaving every few minutes with perhaps 100 grade crossings (same level as trains) for cars.

  3. Clearly, they would need approval from ACHD to build any rail system on any roads. Good find.

    A rail system from Nampa to Boise makes some sense, perhaps theoretically or longer-term. However, some practical issues beyond population remain, one of which is that any kind of rail system that operates throughout the day, would be crossing a lot of major roads. This is almost unworkable. The rail would need to be elevated. Otherwise, this ride would be crazy slow and would screw up traffic flow on every single major north-south road in this valley.

  4. How many times do we have to go through this crap? Over and over again we have elected officials that feel they can create their own rules and disregard others.

    First you take over the CCDC, then you push for local option taxes so you can spend without stopping, then you ignore ACHD.

    How many more times?

  5. the problem i have heard with the 2c to depot train is to use the current track, the owner of the track requires to be the operator of the train, at the rate they deem most reasonable and profitable. If we could lease the track and bid the operations, it might have a better chance.

  6. Living in the corridor zone of the current Nampa-Boise line, I must say that the current train traffic(twice daily)is about all that the tracks can handle. Multiple daily commutes from Nampa to Boise would require a significant overhaul of the current tracks, track beds and even some replacements. We have enough infrastructure problems now as is without anymore burden on the system.

    Portland, Oregon, Seattle Washington and Salt Lake City have a successful bus system with some routes running until midnight. Boise does not have this. Salt Lake also has the rail that runs until midnight. The rail in Salt Lake also has several park and ride type parking lots for commuters. Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell would all have to join in to do something with a large cost to taxpayers.

    Perhaps it is time to say no to developers.

  7. Clang, Clang
    Apr 29, 2013, 9:32 pm

    Nice find Guardian !

    Using Broadway Ave as part of a “loop” from downtown to serve BSU has been mentioned in past studies / proposals. Broadway Ave is “controlled,” for the most part, by ITD (Idaho Transportation Department for non – library types) not ACHD.

    It seems reasonable to expect that the ITD Board would have to give their approval also since they “control” the roadway. The State Constitution may not require their approval but reality probably will.

    Should be interesting to see what the Broadway bridge redo plans show.

  8. grumpy ole man
    Apr 29, 2013, 11:10 pm

    I am an enthusiastic supporter of public transit, with a heavy emphasis upon the word MASS in the expression of it. It HAS to be a wide spread system of low-cost to the user to be effective. Whether elevated, sub-way, surface street, mono-rail or flying carpet it has to be tailored to the infrastructure which is affordable. To my mind that means are present surface streets and a fleet of busses which would run frequently within and between the cities of the six populated counties of the Valley. That would most probably require the creation of a transit compact which would exclude portions of some or all of those counties and would be a very hard sell. If the Boise City “Leaders” want to take on a challenge, let them meet with the city and county officials and begin the work for the creation of such a meaning and lasting legacy. The knowledge exists, it just requires some direction, some motivation, some leadership and the expression of some vision. Let’s get ‘er done.

    EDITOR NOTE–We assume you meant 6 CITIES. Such an agreement you describe already exists between Ada and Canyon Counties. That’s what VALLEY RIDE–the bus system–is all about.

  9. Got to admit that Skytran looks good. At what cost tho?

  10. was it skytran or skynet that killed all humanity in terminator?

    Skytran sounds good, but every video or article about it on their website is a concept animation or an article about some city which hopes to have it…..I don’t think Boise will be first. Happy to be cutting edge, but not bleeding edge…

    Before we jump 50 years into the future with skytran, let’s try to catch up to 1970 and have buses that people ride and don’t stop running at 6 pm.

    Stop the consultant studies, stop the rail dreams, stop thinking we are portland or seattle and let’s try to make what we have work.

  11. Buses.
    So if more buses, more frequency, and better routes is the solution to our public transportation, who is pushing for this?

    While the Guardian watches and surveys the City Council no one pays attention to the VRT bus system.

    Where is the public campaign to improve the bus system?

    EDITOR NOTE–Here is what we offered 5 years ago and never heard a word from the “deciders.” When there is no will, there is no way.

  12. Father Gudio Sarducci
    Apr 30, 2013, 10:46 am

    I am confused….”Now he is asking the City Council for $437,500 to fund… About $375,000—would come from a Federal Transit Authority grant… The additional $125,500 would be picked up by the city of Boise…” We all know that in seminary we don’t spend alot of time on the math but, something in this quote dont add up. Boise does not need (at this time).. and evidently does not want a train… Boise does not even want a bus system, if Boise actually wanted busses there would be more useage. Big Dave is trying to leave his mark on the city unfortunatly the mark being left is not the mark he is aspiring to leave. There are much better uses for money than a train with no riders.

  13. I have lived in Boise all of my life and the current bus system is the worst is has ever been.
    Many folks I know would like to use the bus system… if it did not take longer to ride the bus than to ride a bike, or if they did not have to walk halfway to work to get to where they could catch the bus. AND if the bus would actually stop as a person is franticly waving at it with both arms over their heads as it is driving towards you…. then passes by.
    No riders…. because it is a poorly run system.

  14. My guess is the city of Boise can do this study without approval of ACHD. Likely, ACHD would need such a study before granting permission to place steel in the streets. This section of the Constitution looks to be an interesting leftover from the days when the Railroad controlled and developed much of the West.

    I would much rather the city be improving the BUS service and bike infrastructure.

    EDITOR NOTE–No argument about the STUDY. However, it is pretty clear they need permission of ACHD to use their (our) streets. The Downtown Mobility survey was done years ago and it concluded rubber tires were the answer, not rails.

  15. It does seem odd that this federal grant money would be available to an entity that is legally prohibited from actually building rail. Is this normal with federal grants? If so, maybe I should apply for the grant and study it myself!

  16. grumpy ole man
    Apr 30, 2013, 8:16 pm

    Addenda: Actually I did mean six counties. Elmore, Ada, Canyon, Gem, Payette, Washington, with, perhaps a wandering across the river into Ontario, if it could be arranged. Hey, if you’re gonna plan, plan big.

  17. New to Boise
    May 1, 2013, 1:00 pm

    I don’t get this city when it comes to public transportation. I have lived all over the country (east, west, north and south), and Boise is hands down the most resistant to both supporting and using public transit. What’s more, ACHD’s planning has left Boise a sprawling mess. Personally, I think that the street car idea is a good one – the more options people have the more public transit will get used. Good transit will make Boise (and its residents) money in the long run.

  18. Once again, Mayor Bieter has proven to all of us there is too much money flowing to Boise from our collective pockets and he is on a mission to spend it as quickly as he can.

    The inherent inflexibility of a rail system for a city the size of Boise and the lack of population to support the concept screams NO to this project. Buy electric busses if you are concerned about the environment. Natural Gas busses also make sense and much less cost to taxpayers.

    Thank you BG for this enlightening post.

  19. Father Gudio Sarducci
    May 1, 2013, 7:48 pm

    New, you are right but the people here for one reason or another will not use it. The bus system is a joke… and I would imagine a train would be run the same way. This valley is and probably always will be against progress, what progress we have seen has been forced by the monumental influx of outsiders. In defense of those of us who have been here, we really dont like the new commers comming in saying “back in cali” if cali was so great why did they leave?

  20. The issue with using public transportation is speed of getting from point A to B. There appear to be a good number of people using commuter ride vans and bus service from outlying cities to Boise as a means to get to and from work. These are direct express busses and vans to Boise.

    In cities like Portland, Busses and the light rail are used due to costs of parking in downtown and gridlock traffic. Portland has reached “critical mass” for the use of public transportation.

    Critical mass need for rail in Boise is decades into the future. And building it now to save future costs is a poor argument. A decent bus transit bus system is a better goal and would serve more people.

  21. New to Boise, Others, Have you noticed the lack of crime in Boise? This is a result of a very good and responsive police department AND very little free transportation for the thugs nor places for thugs to hang out at. Our current system of personal autos means ya gotta have some money and a reason to be in the city.

    Dare ya to ride the Portland train system with your purse, iPhone, and Macy’s bag. And Portland is considered a safe city by many.

  22. Clang, Clang
    May 2, 2013, 9:38 pm

    New, welcome to Boise.

    If there is a “sprawling mess” here I’d suggest it’s the fault of the Cities in the Valley for not following their own comprehensive plans and their knee jerk reactions to every developer that comes along promising “economic development.”

    ACHD can only react to what the Cities propose or approve. ACHD didn’t create the “sprawling mess”, the Cities did. Blame them, not ACHD.

  23. Zippo, I dont know about a very good and responsive LE. BPD doesnt even have a good rep with other PD’s here in the valley and Rainey’s keystone cops are a joke. I assume you would like to see those who dont drive a nice enough car, or make enough money to just go away. Do you post on the statesmans site using the name flyingreplicant? That sentence has made your whole comment moote.

  24. Tom, LOL. You are new here?? Are you upset with the slow speed limits and 20 minute traffic delays too. LOL.

    I’ve been all over the nation and world. BPD is very good as is the ACS. Both very responsive and effective. Room for improvement… always. BTW what PD are you comparing to? Find me a better department? IdeHOE Statesman is for under my leaking Asian car… no other use for it since the birds moved out.

    Furthermore, you tried ineffectively avoided the crime question… which is backed by the facts. Public transit is thug transit.

    (I will be out of range again for several more weeks my long lost guardian friends. I’d love to post but the local chieftians screens the internet… ttfn)

  25. Well, zippo I guess you could say I’m new here.LOL My family had a little spread along the river in twin. Matter of fact if you stop on the south side of the bridge you’ll see a little sculpture of one of my realitives.LOL I too have been all over the world 20 years in the military was a reserve with a sheriffs dept while I was in so I’m sure I can match you in “worldly” experience.LOL The major problem with both BPD and ACSD if that a good deal of their employees are ex-cali cops. You can defend them all you want but you are wrong, I could run down their misdeeds but Dave will shut me down. As far as my comparison, I am not comparing I am simply relating what I have been told by one specific ex CCSD now probation officer. As for my personal appraisal I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to do research on complaints vs number of calls ect. As to being ineffective in my response to crime and public transit, I guess you could say it was ineffective since I choose to ignore it since it is ludicrous. I have ridden public transit in London, Cairo, NY, DC, SF, Seattle, Chicago…. I could go on… and have never worried about crime. Besides if ACSD and BPD are as good as you say there will be no problems. Your contradictions seem to make both sides of your argument untenable.

  26. Heres a stat… 2009 Boise PD .44 complaints per sworn employee. Seattle 2009 .23 per sworn employee. Guess that puts the BPD is better than everyone else fallacy to rest. Now maybe we can get back to the real question… Why is there so much negativity againt a mass transit system of some kind in the valley?

  27. AS I have watched this debate over the years I have learned one thing…There is a vast difference between being negative about something and simply pointing out facts that do not support the proposal. Those who wish to see comments and facts as negative usually cannot refute the facts.

    Most, if not all those who offer comments that do not support the mayor have facts the mayor simply does not like….thus they are called negative.

  28. New to Boise
    May 7, 2013, 4:07 pm

    Well, I cannot argue over the merits of “thug transport,” but I have lived in Portland, and can tell you that I have ridden public transportation all over town with groceries, gifts, my iphone, etc, and felt nothing but happy for the fact that I wasn’t driving, the ride was cheap, and I never had to worry about parking or gas. I have never been a victim of crime because I used public transportation. I also know that every city that I’ve lived in that has had good public transit also gets a good amount of revenue (jobs, etc) from out-of-towners in the city for conventions, events, etc. As it is now, Boise cannot be one of those destinations simply because it is too hard to get around without a car. I do not know why there are so many Boise residents who do nothing but “point out facts that do not support the proposal.” I just wish that there were more residents who would rather just want to make it work to make the city a nicer, more livable, and prosperous area.

  29. To “New to Boise”…..based on your comments may I make a suggestion…might be best to move back to Portland. Your opinion that there are “so many” who “do nothing” because they don’t support mass transit is evidence that you are from somewhere else.

  30. And there in lies the rub…. “If you don’t agree with me…leave”. Most of these old hats don’t want any change… hell I’m one of’em… the difference is some understand it is going to happen and have decided to deal with the change… others think if they kick and cry long enough they can stave off the inevitable. I long for the days when Eagle road was 1 lane gravel each way and didn’t cross the highway.. Eagle it’s self was a nice little town in the country back then.

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