Boise contemplates $111 million circulator

Posted at 5:15 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 19:25:12-04

Downtown Boise continues to grow and city planners are working on ways to accommodate increased traffic.

Enter the Downtown Circulator.

It’s a public transportation system that moves people around downtown.

"It will get people from one end of downtown to another, allow them to park once get from one end of downtown to the other without having to go back to their car and find another parking spot," said city spokesman Mike Journee.

A circulator ranks number 15 out of 33 in the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho’s list of unfunded but necessary projects. And it's nothing new to Boiseans.

Mayor Bieter campaigned for a downtown trolley in 2008 but failed to get public support. This circulator is his second attempt.

"It is something he's long thought about and believes is best for our community," said Journee.

The preliminary plan has the circulator anchored at Boise State University, then stretching east and west downtown.

Some public comments question if the transportation plan is necessary, given Boise’s small downtown and its current walk and bikeablility.

Early estimates of a rail system come with a price tag of $111 million. For perspective, that’s just about as much as the three overpass renovations at Broadway, Gowen, and Meridian ITD performed last year.

However, city leaders think there's an economic upswing.

"It can bring in an estimated $600 million in economic development and investment into town,” said Journee. “That could be new construction along the route. That could be bringing conventions into town because of the opportunity to make Boise’s downtown even cooler."

The city is also contemplating a bus-based circulating system that is much cheaper. Estimated costs for that program come in at $23 million.

The steering committee on the circulator plan to reveal their initial proposal next month.