Transportation

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise Depot is one of those places Boiseans take visitors to show off their town. The early 20th Century Spanish architecture stands out and is a great backdrop for weddings and parties.

But the one thing you haven’t found at the depot for 20 years? Passenger trains.

Colin Falconer has long wondered why that is. Falconer is originally from Seattle and used to take the Amtrak to northern Idaho to swim in lakes with friends when he was a kid. He loved being able to watch the scenery go by, and goof around in the aisles with his buddies.

MjZ Photography / Flickr

Idaho transportation officials have agreed to spend $150 million in newly approved bonds to repair and add lanes on Interstate 84 near Nampa.

The state transportation board unanimously voted Friday to reconstruct existing lanes, as well as add additional lanes and upgrade bridges.

Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness says the currently congested corridor is a top concern and affects all of Idaho.

Charlie Litchfield / AP

The Idaho Legislature closed up shop and went home Wednesday. The session went five days longer than leadership had anticipated.

The session was notable for a few bills, including transportation funding and tax cuts, which were sticking points at the end of the session. Lawmakers also didn’t find a solution for the 78,000 Idahoans who fall in the Medicaid gap and don’t have health insurance.

AP

A massive transportation funding bill is making its way through the Idaho Statehouse as lawmakers hope to finish their work before the end of the day.

Senate members spent nearly two hours Tuesday debating a roughly $320 million proposal to funnel more money to roads and bridges. A similar proposal had failed in the Senate chamber just last week on a 15-20 vote. This forced transportation and infrastructure advocates scrambling to rewrite a new plan before adjournment, which in the end wooed enough lawmakers to vote 19-16.

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.

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