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Old 02-07-2010, 02:36 AM
Location: Boise
4,426 posts, read 5,683,319 times
Reputation: 1700


Originally Posted by Bhaalspawn View Post
Do you really think that a commuter rail line would be viable? Do enough people go downtown to work every day in locations that would be close enough to the rail stations to make it worthwhile? I don't know, but I do know that Boise is not Chicago or New York City or Washington, D.C. Subways work in those cities because a great many people crowd into a small area on a daily basis. Is that also the case with Boise? When people get off the train, the location they want to go to needs to be within a short walking distance. (Personally, I really like the subways in those other cities and think they are great, as long as you can find a parking space at the suburban stations.)

I'm under the impression, based on articles that I have read over the years, that as a general rule these mass transit systems do not pay for themselves unless a great many people crowd into a central area each day.

Sure, it costs money to widen the Interstate, but it also costs money to build and maintain rail lines, stations, and the large parking lots that would be needed. Often times people clamor for it when it's really just a touchy-feely supposedly eco-friendly measure that doesn't make real economic sense.
and that is a national debate.. but many cities that implement rail already have viable multi lane freeway systems. if you give someone the option to drive their own personal vehicle vs riding mass transit, they'll choose their car especially when governments fund widening freeways so they can.. and offering parking garages downtown to cater to it.. which is why valley's out west are being choked with smog and we keep spinning our wheels and sprawling. Cities on the east coast had growth spurts long before the automobile which created a historical dense area to work with. Mass transit can be used in other cities to create such density and detract from suburban sprawl if done correctly. Salt Lake City has light rail and commuter rail amongst it's endless sprawl from ogden to provo and it's proven to be quite viable insomuch that initially conservative voting population turned it down.. with the onset of the 2002 winter olympics and eventually getting a rail system in place voters continue to vote for extensions and expansion of it.. I am very well aware of the failures of mass transit.. but there are places that are doing it and doing it well and they aren't necessarily the ny, sf, dc's of the country.
The line that the city of boise owns connects every city in the valley as well as downtown boise to the mall area, downtown meridian and along the exact route of the existing freeway. Also it is important to note that downtown boise is a place where 45K people commute into for work each day..mind you downtown is on the far eastern side of the metro, when factoring in other points along the way it would easily be well over 100K commuters coming into boise from somewhere west whether it be meridian, nampa, caldwell, eagle etc. It's very much viable and possible and could really impact the direction growth happens in boise which in turn could turn out to be something that cities like IF and Poky could use as well...
IF and Poky are rather smaller areas, but the region is connected and as the area grows more options will be viable as well.. we should not be ruling out anything based on what we "think" we know.. what we have come to know realistically has only been a recent phenomenon of the past 50+ years.
If you speak with old timers in boise back when it was a dot on a map and similar to the likes of jerome now.. there was a train that ran from downtown to caldwell and back through the countryside. In fact many share stories about train trips across the valley being a part of a family event on sundays and how everyone got around.. that was alteast until the mass production of the automobile and city officials decided to pave over all the street car rails that were already there...
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Old 02-19-2010, 01:02 AM
Location: Old Mother Idaho
28,108 posts, read 19,766,637 times
Reputation: 22352
I've seen and lived in the results of explosive growth, and it ain't pretty.

Belgrade, Montana, 6 miles from Bozeman, grew from 3,000 people to 30,000 in 10 years. Bozeman couldn't expand, and Belgrade could, so it did, and there was totally insufficient planning as the growth occurred. The result was just about as bad as it gets in everything that you can think of.

So far, I think that I.F.'s growth has been fast, but far from explosive.

Idaho Falls has a long string of little towns close together to the north, and I expect to see steady development happening in Jefferson County, especially around Rigby, and growing even faster northward approaching Rexburg.

Iona, Ammon, and the other small towns closer to I.F. are all going through the pains of growth that may be too fast for them to handle well.

Iona, in particular, faced some very serious problems last summer with the very large proposed housing addition, platted just outside the city limits, that fell through when the financing failed.

That one could have been a bucket o' problems for Iona, as it doesn't have school capacity for the extra kids, doesn't have street and road capacity for all the commuters to I.F., and doesn't have the water capacity to provide adequate water.
By it's design, there were only two roads that entered into the subdivision, so everything had great potential for an enormous bottleneck twice a day, with Iona's main street becoming one major drag and the Lincoln Road the other. Cars would be backed up to the top of Lincoln Hill. County fire and police protection would also be very difficult. Because this addition was outside city limits, Iona couldn't easily annex it into the city, so they would get all the burdens without any offsetting additions to the tax base.

The complete addition was to be around 750 houses. This is about 35% additional population.

It's this kind of stuff that is bound to happen more and more, and Iona is typical of the sudden massive problems that can arise. Even with the best planning these small towns can do, it's very hard to forsee everything, and small decisions that are wrong can easily become huge problems quickly.

Given our tendency to not interfere with another man's business, this issue is most often split down the middle. Last summer, half of Iona was alarmed, and the other supported the addition.

I expect to see more similar problems in the future all over the Upper Snake River Valley. Outside of Idaho Falls, most officials simply don't have much knowledge when it comes to city planning yet. I'm not sure if Iona truly realizes as a community that they narrowly dodged a bullet.
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