ACHD

New ACHD HQ Building In The Works

GUEST OPINION BY
By Marisa Keith

The highly publicized Ada County Highway District vehicle fee increase on the November ballot suggests that the agency needs more revenue to maintain and construct the county road system. However, there are other plans in the works at the agency that seem to suggest that the bank account may not be as low as the public is being led to believe.

A recently created ACHD Community Watchdog group has been gathering information about a new multi-million-dollar administration building as well as a temporary five-year lease for office space to be used during the construction period.

ACHD either has more cash on hand than they wish to reveal or they will be returning to voters seeking construction funds through a bond request.

One of several design proposals for a new ACHD headquarters building.


The current ACHD headquarters, built in 1977, has seen several remodels and additions. In 2013 ACHD created a team to look at the headquarters and other maintenance facilities. That team found that not enough parking existed at the headquarters building and that more office space would be needed to accommodate future employees. They recommended expanding the current headquarters to around 60,000 sf.

In 2016 ACHD Commissioners approved a contract with the architecture firm CSHQA for over $1.3 million dollars. In a public record request earlier this month it was discovered that already over $630,000 has been spent on multiple architectural drawings, engineering, title work, and soil testing. Total cost for the building has been difficult to determine as this project has not been discussed at length at public hearings, or during the recent budget adoption, nor is cost discussed in the upcoming Single Integrated Operational Plan which is on the regular agenda for Wed. October 17th at noon.

One ACHD representative stated it might be about $5 million, but a 2015 memo estimated costs between $10 and $12.8 million not including property acquisition. If the recent Boise Fire Department failure to comply with their bond approval terms is any indication, costs are likely to be significantly more.

ACHD is also considering a lease for the 17,711 sf second floor of the CSC building at 1301 N. Orchard. This five-year lease will cost $301,087 a year with an increase of 3% in years 2-5.
Little is known about where the money for this project is coming from. The FY 19-20 budget has one line that shows $1.4 million being set aside for professional services and construction, and in some memos there is a reference to the future facilities fund.

At the ACHD meeting last week the Commissioners declined to sign the lease until after the November election. Two commissioners are up for re-election and they felt that whoever fills their seats should decide if it is appropriate to spend that amount of money. Safe cover to avoid discussion during pending vehicle fee increase.

Comments & Discussion

24 comments for “New ACHD HQ Building In The Works”

  1. ACHD is unique in the US that so far as I know they are one of the only highway districts that build and maintain all roads and most storm water infrastructure within a county. Whereas in most areas of the country cities have their own road departments and counties do their own thing.

    With that in mind ACHD does an excellent job building and maintaining our road systems when I compare roads in other parts of the US. They also, at least in the past appeared to be a fiscal conservative pseudo govt. agency.

    By the attempt to raise vehicle registration fees for vehicles under 8000 lbs while ignoring the cost of damage to our roads caused by the trucking industry and other apparent under-the-table activities I’m starting to wonder if they are becoming another agency who see taxpayers as just a means of unlimited revenue?

  2. I wonder if they have explored space at the newly acquired state complex at the old HP facility? I think any large construction project being built right now will have gross cost overruns. The cost of materials continues to sky rocket with our numerous natural disasters. The costs of labor, due to shortages, also is skyrocketing. It also seems that our government entities have lost all sense of reason in spending our tax dollars on these projects- CWI campus, Boise Main Library, Stadium, Boise Fire Department buildings. I guess the only way to bring them under control is to flatly say NO! I can see ACHD outgrowing their current building, but there needs to be some fiscal reality as well.

    EDITOR NOTE–Dave, we have a very logical idea from Larry Rincover. See his guest opinion.

  3. Kent Goldthorpe
    Oct 13, 2018, 11:07 am

    As was mentioned in the article by Marisa there was no decision made on the approval for the lease. Instead, that decision will have to be made by a newly seeded Commission in January. That was not just to Kick the Can down the road. That was because, if the decision had to be made at that moment, it would have been denied. There is still a lot to be discussed and decisions to be made and cost to be dialed-in much closer than they are presently before any vote is taken and any permission given to proceed with the building of a new headquarters facility. That will come after a public hearing.

  4. ” this project has not been discussed at length at public hearings”

    And two of the Commissioners are all freaked out about a few erroneous emails?

    District 3- Paul Woods &
    District 4- Kent Goldthorpe are up for this election cycle.

    As posed above, and confirmed by C Goldthorpe here that is a pretty lame excuse.

    This STARTED in 2013.

    So the current board should have voted and denied it.
    Either it is needed or it is not.

    “We don’t know after 5 years, and that’s why we are avoiding a vote.”

    IF ACHD moved to a State Street location, then they would all hate their commute even more, on worst street in the county.

  5. Gee, Kent, for 630k I think it should be dialed in pretty damn close.

  6. The owners at the CSC location have already announced that ACHD is going to occupy the building.

    CSC says it is t done deal and been in the works for over 3 months.

    EDITOR NOTE–this location is on Orchard where Channel 4 and Idaho DEQ are located .

  7. They can easily move into the old HP site – would be a ton cheaper and they can then sell the building on Garden City.

  8. I strongly disagree with moving IDOT or any State agency to the HP site.

    The State Capitol, Supreme Court and many other functions are in downtown Boise. So what if legislators, when they’re here from out of town during session, want to visit those departments?

    I’m sure there are many other interactions which require gov’t agencies to coordinate. Having the flung all over town, miles apart, seems like lunacy to me.

    They won’t, and therefore won’t be doing their jobs.

    All State gov’t offices should be near the Capitol.

  9. JB: No they can’t easily move to the HP site. That’s a State gov’t site which would require ACHD to lease from the State. It would almost certainly have to be done at fair market value. In the long run, that scenario would be far more costly to the taxpayers than ACHD owning their own land and building.

  10. J. Martin Igo
    Oct 14, 2018, 10:40 am

    CSHQA is a very experienced firm and they will do a good job if this project goes forward. The public should be wary of a cost estimate range stated by lay people without any foundation in fact when the gap in the estimates is over 100% as it is probable that both estimates are wrong. The new State of Idaho Campus and the ITD facility area examples of alternatives that are likely to be more cost effective than new construction of at least the estimated 60,000 sf office building component. Understand that ACHD has an industrial land use component that is not discussed in this article. Whether ACHD needs the industrial component to be next to the office component is not addressed and would need to be addressed in any alternative location. It should be noted that ACHD owns about 17 to 20 acres and ITD owns about 45 acres; both with existing improvements. The acquisition process of ACHD buying from ITD is likely to be lengthy and problematic. The good news is that the ACHD property is in a location in transition towards higher and better land uses, so there is likely to be a buyer at some fair market value at auction should ACHD elect to leave their current facility.

  11. ACHD is as secretive as Boise City/CCDC/Auditorium District just before a land sale!

  12. cynic – too late.
    The old HP site will house the vast majority of state agencies over time. The downtown locations will only be executive offices, if those, or converted to offices to legislators.
    The State is free to lease to whomever they want at whatever rates they want.

  13. Waste-N-Lard
    Oct 15, 2018, 11:29 am

    Is there some way to make sure my vehicle fees go to the roads rather than new plush offices and Cadillac health insurance for the bureaucratic leadership?

  14. GEO: ACHD is many things, but they are definitely not fiscally conservative, nor do I think they do good job of building and maintaining our road system. I don’t fault them for this, however, as they’re not very different from every other road-building & maintaining agency in the USA. The problem is we build our roads and cities in a financially unsustainable way – the layout of our city is itself unsustainable in the long term, at least by the measurements that ACHD acts to spend money on. For example, the stated reason for the registration fee increase ‘ask’ is to fund the capitol improvements plan, which will, among other things, rebuild & expand many busy intersections and roadways in Ada county – the bulk of these are widening 2/3-lane roads to 5-lane roads. Roadway level of service on these roads drives the spending, in an attempt that it will reduce congestion. This reasoning financially irresponsible because ACHD (and every other road building agency in the US) knows that expanding capacity doesn’t permanently reduce congestion, it’s an unrealistic goal. In turn, the temporary relief in congestion that it provides allows and encourages further traffic-adding development, that is most usually built in a similarly financially unsustainable way. ACHD appears to do better than other places only because it’s ‘newer’ than other places.

  15. ACHD Begone
    Oct 15, 2018, 1:39 pm

    This is yet another reason that ACHD should be nullified. Publicly funded corporations such as this as inefficient as the rest of government, and even less accountable. ACHD like others subversively reaches out for public comment yet considers none of it. This headquarters is just another example of their wasteful spending.

    As for their mission to build and maintain our roads, they fail miserably. They are both inefficient and ineffective with their projects. They do as much to destroy our roads as they do building them. We stop at nothing to serve a few by spending millions on expanding bike routes, yet create bottleneck after bottleneck for each newly approved subdivision that sprawls or even leapfrogs city boundaries. The whole system is a shamble and yet as always they want a few dollars more… I hope everyone gets their act together that comments on this page and makes sure that people know about this through social media, and hey Dave, how about a call to the news media and a couple of newspaper reporters on this one. Lets hope we can get this out so that people can vote down this registration hike and start the process of removing this component of waste of citizens hard-earned money.

  16. You know how when you decided to sell something you stop investing in it! That is how HP treated the property that the State purchased from them! Could you imagine if Dave Bieter controlled repair for YOUR ROAD?

  17. ACHD Begone
    Oct 15, 2018, 3:30 pm

    Dave Bieter controlling our roads would be far worse than ACHD. We would have our roads turned into 20 lane bike ways that would restrict vehicle access to non daylight hours at best. Moreover, Bieter would place anything that might be objectionable to the public in an Urban Renewal District and use his puppets in CCDC to do his bidding by funneling tax dollars through the district to his pet projects.

    However, ACHD is not much better. They are as narcissistic as Bieter and control more area. All you have to do is look at actions like the proposal detailed in the above article or Jim Hansen starting a gofundme for his legal expenses due to the alleged open meeting violations. This righteous mindset seems to be pandemic at ACHD (and arguably at Boise City too) where no matter what anyone objects to it falls on deaf ears. I think they realize the elections for their leadership are not well followed, and while people complain when something occurs, they don’t follow up with a vote or any political movement to improve or change the situation.

    The answer is that there needs to be better coordination between highway agencies and city or municipal planners so that we are not outrunning our resources for transportation. Moreover there needs to be a valley wide movement for actual viable alternative sources of transportation that will handle our already sprawling growth pattern, and that does not involve adding bike lanes between Boise and Caldwell so that one person can use it, or adding a bus that takes two hours to fight traffic that will drop you off 7 miles from your home.

    EDITOR NOTE–Willie Nelson may have the answer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_6-8AE7Cao

  18. And the Answer Is?
    Oct 15, 2018, 5:08 pm

    I am curious – – – if ACHD is not the best model what is? Letting a spend, spend, spend, control the world and tax like h_ll mayor and council do it? Does not sound very good to me!

    EDITOR NOTE–The model is OK, but the same petty politics that costs us cash in the city, county governments, CCDC is the killer. The GUARDIAN has tried to create interest and awareness at the local level, but it is nearly impossible to find candidates or citizens in significant numbers to insure a level of quality governance.

  19. Best Model is a county-wide road effort, BUT managed under the existing COUNTY, not a separate commission, and all the extra BS that goes with it.

    Like the County Sheriff.

    There is an economic advantage based on economy of scale to do a county-wide effort.
    There is a consistency advantage of being county-wide. Even though ACHD is NOT consistent (other than consistent FUBAR).

    There is no advantage by having ANOTHER public relations dept., another legal dept., another HR dept., another everything that is duplicated.

    City planning would only have to align with County and not county and ACHD planners.

    Too many layers in govt is like too many cooks in the kitchen- not good!

    AND the advantage is when the bums don’t represent the people, you can vote out the County Commissioner instead of the having to remove both County Commissioner AND the ACHD Commissioners.

    County-wide, just not in the current form.

  20. East..that woukd give the BOCC something else to do. Maybe they would actually earn their money.

  21. Am I the only one wondering why Boise’s elected public servants didn’t consider the vacated fire training facility on the greenbelt as opposed to the Lucky dog Bar? For a downtown police sub station? We were told that our public servants learned something from the fire bond issue were the cost doubled on construction? Maybe chief Bones didn’t get the memo. We need to question the commonsense of our PUBLIC SERVANTS

  22. A Non E Moose
    Oct 17, 2018, 5:19 pm

    Garner & Co. needs another building project – end of story.

    Bribe the local officials and complain if they don’t get the contract they go under they most certainly will.

    Moving state services to the HP campus voids a lot of rental property the state has been using for years. I doubt they have room for ACHD in their plans.

    They are buying the bar because they vacated their old Police Officers club in Military Reserve and needed a spot with a liquor license to replace it. The city has the property already on 17th St. and it’s near the river for a police substation. Buying a bar makes sense since the BPD association used to have one. Only time will tell what will really happen there.

    City/County/State admins think the average person (taxpayer) is very gullible. George Carlin said it best: Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy. If honesty were suddenly introduced into American life, the whole system would collapse.

    EDITOR NOTE–The GUARDIAN will try to make a tasty salad of your “apples and oranges” in a post later today.

  23. Yossarian_22
    Oct 24, 2018, 3:32 pm

    Whatever they decide, it should be an efficient selection (yeah…I know…good luck with that) of a vacant building with adequate parking that won’t cost an arm and a leg, as a brand new fancy building would. With all the vacancies piling up of commercial property that I see, there has to be something out there. How ironic in a fast growth county. No one wants “old” anymore. Part of the problem is that these bureaus tend to get too big and expect too many bobbles and shiny things attached. I’ve been to the current site many times and it doesn’t need to be any fancier than that. Warm and cool enough and quiet enough, yes….but not a castle. They are not supposed to be rulers, but county servants.

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