Apply Emergency Brakes To Train Obsession

Freight train east of Boise, Idaho.
It used to be amusing to poke fun at Team Dave’s latest gimmick for a train, trolley, street car, etc. Now its time to derail this fantasy once and for all.

The current topic is yet another round of consulting, planning, etc. for what amounts to a “cargo transit center.” The idea is to create business for a Boise train hub linked to trucks. At every step of the way, thinking people — including officials and former executives of the Union Pacific — have concluded it is not cost effective to build a truck/train transfer station in or near Boise. The legacy media needs to talk to the big road train people in Omaha to get a handle on why Boise is nothing more than a siding which provides a needed access to Motive Power’s manufacturing facility off Federal Way.

The Boise City Council needs to pull the emergency STOP! These fantasy dreams have gone on far too long and too much taxpayer money has been spent for ideas which have simply outlived their day and are not logically conceived. We have documents from as far back as 2007 showing the city had funded studies promising hundreds of thousands in railroad revenue–these claims were never realized and in our opinion the city is merely “shopping” for a consultant to give them what they want to hear.

In the current shot at garnering some public support, Team Dave has turned to Sven Berg at the DAILY PAPER to tout the latest incarnation of “Dave’s Magic Train.” This version has the Boise Valley Railroad, owned by a Kansas firm, seeking a private/public partnership.

The GUARDIAN has been on this for nearly a decade now. Six years ago we learned Boise City officials obtained a license to operate a city-owned railroad, following a PRESENTATION to the city council– and anyone else who would watch it. The Boise City Railroad never turned a wheel.

Nampa is the place for such a facility, on the mainline of the railroad. Boise simply doesn’t generate enough big bulk cargo like grain, lumber, coal, etc. Boise is a nice place, we are good people, we spend lots of money for products, but we simply don’t do it in carload or trainload amounts.

Here is an excerpt from the city-financed study:
“A total of 27 companies were surveyed in the region from a sample list of 60 large firms representing the target customer base. Very few (less than 5%) of the interviewees said they would entertain rail for outbound shipments and less than 20% said they were interested in using rail for inbound shipments (these were principally grains, feeds, liquids and lime products).” Yet, the study concluded it could work with a $15 million investment and a big time selling job on 47 acres of public land.

Message to the council: Politely tell Mayor Dave Bieter you won’t allow him anymore of OUR cash for something which would be built by the private sector if it was viable and needed.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. chicago sam
    Mar 29, 2014, 7:41 pm

    Nampa has been used for many years as the dropping off point for container freight and also moves local container freight out. If Boise were to be the place these containers are loaded and unloaded it would require putting the railroad cars on the Boise local delaying delivery for at least one day and probably two days. Totally unacceptable from the shippers needs for prompt delivery. The same on outgoing freight. Trucks can now get the container unloaded and delivered to any place in the valley in a couple of hours vs. a couple of days. There is plenty of room for expansion in Nampa if necessary as the old sale yard grounds are sitting idle right next to present facility and main line of UP. Give it up Boise, Nampa can handle it

  2. Do you happen to know how much as been spent on this? Any more than about $1,000 would be too much – just wondered if there was a number.

    EDITOR NOTE–Well over $150,000 by last calculation.

  3. Robert Forrey
    Mar 30, 2014, 9:29 am

    Good for you, Dave.
    You are right. If is was a worthy project, it would have been done years ago and someone would have made a profit. The problem is the mayor and council think that profit is a dirty word.

  4. This is the result of Boise City owning land nobody wants to develop. Spend more taxpayer money since there is no current economic demand for land the city owns and can’t sell.
    Wasn’t there going to be an electric bus manufacture from SE Asia going to bring jobs to the general area?

    EDITOR NOTE–Zonda Bus still shows its N. America headquarters in Boise. Chamber folks will not admit the deal was a scam and never happened. Try to get the “Boise Valley Economic Partnership” to tell you about Zonda.

  5. Robert just a question… do you believe that ALL worth while projects have already been completed?

    I am not in favor of a train/trolley. I do know that we need some sort of public transportation but with our cali urban sprawl and cali mindset it will never happen here… and that is too bad. It seems like we are doomed to the same fate that people fled the golden state to escape.

  6. Good article, I had the same thoughts when I heard about this. The rail line was abandoned as a freight line years ago by UP and for good reason. You could probably make a good argument the rail line should never have been built in the first place.

  7. The spur off the UP main line was for passenger service not intended for frieght service as it is a different scale. Proper scale is necessary for weight concerns.

  8. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 31, 2014, 11:46 am

    Further proof that the more local the government, the more SNAFU it is.

  9. This is just giving easy money to friends. They know it’s a joke but for the kind of money they stuff in their friend’s pockets they need to act like it’s a viable idea.

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