Downtown Boise Streetcar Idea Resurfaces With Recommended Route

Mar 3, 2016

A Seattle streetcar.
Credit Richard Eriksson / Flickr Creative Commons

A recent recommendation to the Boise City Council has awoken an issue that was, a few years ago, among the most hotly debated topics in Idaho’s capital city – should downtown Boise get a streetcar? But Mike Journee, a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bieter, says a committee led by a city engineer has not yet recommended that Boise actually build a streetcar line.

“We’re talking about three options really,” Journee says. “We’re talking about the possibility of a streetcar, we’re talking the possibility of some kind of a bus circulator and we’re talking about the possibility of nothing happening, as well.”

The recommendation so far is just if the city wants a circulator, it should operate on a specific route. That route is being called "the T" because it resembles a capital letter T with a north/south loop from the Boise State campus to Main Street and an east/west loop from Saint Luke’s to 15th Street.

The idea of building a streetcar system in Boise has plenty of critics but it also has a high profile champion, Mayor Dave Bieter. Mike Journee says the mayor believes a streetcar would be good for the city.

“The idea is that the permanency of tracks has a greater economic development potential for the city in a way that rubber-tire projects haven’t in the past,” Journee says.

Bieter tried to get federal money to build a streetcar in 2008. Journee says funding details for a future project aren’t final yet and they would be quite different depending on what the recommendation is. Journee acknowledges that using buses on existing streets would be cheaper than creating the infrastructure for a streetcar.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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