Transportation

Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press

As we wrap up the 11th week of the 2017 Idaho Legislative Session, lawmakers have been struggling to finish up their work and go home. For several weeks, the goal has been to end the session Friday. House Speaker Scott Bedke said on Thursday lawmakers will have to come back on Monday.

This week lawmakers struggled with a large transportation funding bill. They tried and failed to pass a bill that would have helped some of the 78,000 people in Idaho who can’t afford health insurance. And tax cuts are still a sticking point.

Michael Kappel / Flickr Creative Commons

Questions linger about a bill that passed the Idaho House Transportation Committee Friday looking to designate who's responsible for snow removal.

Under current law, highway districts are required to maintain city streets, curbs and gutters. In 2013, snow removal was added to the list of responsibilities. The proposed legislation would do away with the 2013 snow-removal addition.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Caldwell Chamber of Commerce is encouraging residents and business owners to write to lawmakers calling for the expansion of I-84.

The Chamber wants a 10-mile stretch between Franklin Boulevard in Nampa and the Franklin Road in Caldwell widened beyond the current 2 lanes in each direction.

Local leaders tell KTVB miles of traffic backups are hurting established businesses and scaring away new ones from setting up shop in the area.

MjZ Photography / Flickr

One of the main corridors of the Treasure Valley, Chinden Boulevard, could be expanded to a six lane highway over the next 25 years according to long range plans from the Idaho Transportation Department.

The section of roadway between Meridian and Caldwell would first be upgraded from two to four lanes in the next 15 years. Once that’s done, work would begin to widen it to six lanes by 2040.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Monday marks the opening of a much-anticipated new transit center in downtown Boise. Transit officials with Valley Regional Transit, the inter-county agency that runs the bus system in the Treasure Valley, is betting the facility will make riding the bus more comfortable.

But will Main Street Station attract new riders? To answer that question, KBSX got on a bus with Kim Wegener one morning in early October. Wegener lives in Eagle and commutes most mornings to downtown Boise to her job at Ballet Idaho. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The drive-through window behind the Moxie Java on Boise’s Vista Avenue is for cars, not trains. That’s not a point one usually has to make but in this case, a set of train tracks terminates just a few feet away from that window and the back wall of that coffee shop and its neighbors, Blimpie and the UPS Shop.

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.

Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Transportation Department officials say they are not requesting a funding boost from state lawmakers despite facing a $165.3 million annual shortfall to maintain the state's aging bridges and roads.

ITD Director Brian Ness presented the $707.7 million budget to the Joint Finance Appropriations budget committee on Thursday. However, only $350 million of the agency's budget will come from state funds if the Legislature approves it later this year.

idtrucking.org

In Congress’ recent omnibus spending bill there was a small, largely unnoticed provision that applied only to Idaho. But it had nothing to do with spending. The provision allows Idaho to raise weight limits for big trucks.  

Indiana Stan / Flickr

Gas prices in Idaho are falling fast, compared to the rest of the country. Idaho’s prices have dropped 30 cents in the last 30 days, while the U.S. average price has dropped just a nickel over the last month.

Triple A Idaho’s Dave Carlson says Idaho’s gas prices were well above where they should have been. A month ago, they were 46 cents higher than the national average.

Carlson says there are five refineries that serve the southwestern part of the state and they may not have been able to keep up with the need in this part of the country.

Idaho Statesman

You’ve seen roadside memorials - a cross or flowers that says someone died at that location. Now, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) wants to regulate those displays.

ACHD commissioners asked a group to write some rules, and Wednesday morning the commission will decide if those are ready to advance.

Currently, people place the markers without permission. ACHD only removes them if they’re problematic, but spokesman Craig Quintana says they’re becoming problems too often.

UnShuttered Soul~ Good to be busy! / Flickr

Starting July 1, Idahoans will see new laws that range from how much they pay at the gas station to giving teachers a pay bump.

Next week marks the start of a new fiscal year in Idaho. This means a $95 million transportation plan designed to help repair Idaho's crumbling bridges and roads will go into effect. For Idaho residents, vehicle registration fees are going up $21 and gas will cost 7 cents more because of higher taxes.

Idaho Transportation Department

Last week, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) pushed 27 road and bridge projects to the top of their “fix it” list. The projects, from Nampa to Pocatello, are just a fraction of the outstanding road issues facing the Department. ITD says the projects will cost $46.8 million. 

delta, atlanta, airport
Courtesy: Delta Airlines

The number of flights in and out of the Boise airport increases Friday. Airport officials say Delta will begin flying new routes to and from Seattle as part of the airline’s west coast expansion. But there’s one route that continues to elude Boise travelers – a direct flight to a major east coast hub. 

Starting next month, Alaska Airlines will explore charging extra for main cabin seats with more legroom and creature comforts.

Sandor Weisz / Flickr

The Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) is reminding drivers to remove their studded tires this spring. Idaho law says use of studded tires is only legal between October 1 and April 30, and people caught with them beyond that date could be fined $67.

Studded tires have small metal cleats embedded in the rubber to provide traction on snow and ice.

SkyWest, airplane, airport
Aero Icarus / Flickr Creative Commons

SkyWest Airlines has announced it will soon offer jet flights between West Yellowstone and Salt Lake City to connect passengers with Delta flights.

The Delta Connection flights, operated by SkyWest, will begin in June. The airline says it will run flights twice a day from Thursday through Monday and once each day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise’s long-awaited bike share system will begin installing stations downtown this week. Boise GreenBike hopes to have its first 15 stations operational, and its first 114 bikes on the road by the end of April.

Boise GreenBike Director Dave Fotsch says four years' worth of work will culminate in the next few weeks. 

Welcome to Idaho
Craig Cloutier / Flickr Creative Commons

A six-member joint panel has reached a compromise that would partially address Idaho's roads funding shortfall.

The new plan was passed unanimously by the Legislature's special joint conference committee on Friday afternoon after two full days of negotiations. The proposal would raise $95 million — far short of the $262 million annual shortfall the state has faced for road maintenance since 2010.

There's money in a state highway budget that passed the Washington House Thursday to study a one-of-a-kind possible toll bridge fashioned out of retired Navy aircraft carriers.

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