Boise will close traffic on the popular 8th Street corridor to help downtown businesses

Posted at 4:24 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 18:28:15-04

BOISE, Idaho — On Tuesday night, the Boise city council approved a resolution to help local businesses recover after being hit hard by the coronavirus.

Part of the resolution includes temporarily putting an end to vehicle traffic on 8th Street in between Idaho and Bannock Streets.

The City of Boise plans on making the block a pedestrian area where businesses can expand their patios for social distancing purposes.

Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters is one of the many establishments on the block that serve food, this business has been on 8th Street for 19 years, and they were remodeling when the pandemic happened.

"Yes, it has been very difficult," said Abbey Wymond of Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters. "I think it would make a huge difference if this is all left open for pedestrian and bike traffic, it seems like we would able to fit in a good amount of people and all be six feet apart."

The City of Boise doesn't manage their own roads, that's the job of the Ada County Highway Department, but the city does manage this one-block stretch in downtown.

"We started with 8th Street because the city oversees it," said Mayor Lauren McLean. "There are also so many restaurants in a concentrated space, and people have asked for years for the city to do something like this on 8th Street."

But that doesn't mean the city isn't working together with other agencies, they have partnered with ACHD who will control the direction of traffic in the adjacent alleys and delivery trucks will still be able to access 8th Street from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. like they currently do.

The City of Boise is also working with the state who oversees alcohol and liquor licenses, police and fire are included in this to ensure this transformation happens smoothly and the city is also making sure the area is ADA compliant.

"We want to do everything we can to support you to be able to have an experience in our community and feel safe," said McLean.

This initiative isn't just limited to downtown as the city is working with ACHD to see if this sort of thing would be something that other businesses will be able to do.

"We are so excited to use this as a first step, and then we are really encouraging businesses throughout the city to reach out to us," said McLean. "We would like to continue the conversation with the highway district and others to see if it is possible to do this in other areas in the city."

Mayor McLean told us there are still a few things to iron out before they can implement no traffic on 8th Street, she says an official announcement will happen soon.