Valley Regional Transit is considering an additional site for its Downtown Boise transit center at the corner of 8th and Jefferson. The site, a surface parking lot, is across 8th Street from the Capitol and the Borah Post Office.
Who owns the lot?
The Normal School Endowment owns the property. The Idaho Department of Lands manages it under a state constitution mandate to maximize long-term financial returns for the endowment.
Why is VRT interested in this site?
The proposed location at 8th and Jefferson kitty-corner from the Capitol would provide a central location with quick access to Downtown for workers, visitors and shoppers, said Kelli Fairless, VRT executive director. It is immediately adjacent to the pedestrian-friendly Capitol Mall complex, where about 2,300 state employees work.
What happens next?
The state endowment agreed to let VRT conduct a federally required environmental analysis on the site. Once thats done, VRT will decide whether to proceed. The endowment and Idaho Land Board would have to approve any agreements on the propertys use.
There also will be multiple opportunities for public comment, both to the Land Board and VRT.
Didnt VRT already identify a site for the transit center?
Yes, the VRT board has twice identified the half-block on the east side of 11th Street, between Idaho and Bannock streets as the preferred site. But VRT has not been able to secure an agreement with the landowner, Tomlinson & Associates.
Why a transit center?
The multimodal center would serve as a central transportation hub Downtown that could include public buses, bicycle facilities, car sharing, vanpools, carpools, taxis and airport shuttles.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, got $9 million in a 2005 federal budget earmark, and local governments put up $3 million for the Downtown transit center.
Today, ValleyRide stages its buses on Main and Idaho between 9th Street and Capitol Boulevard. Fairless said some bus patrons have to walk more than two blocks to transfer.
The state is planning a new parking garage near the Capitol. Why not partner with the transit agency?
The state is reviewing several sites for a 600- to 800-space parking garage, authorized by the 2012 Legislature. But the proposed transit center lot and a state-owned parking lot across the street at 8th and Jefferson are not contenders for the garage because they are too close to the Capitol, officials say.
The state also said adding elements to its parking garage, such as bus and transit facilities, would reduce parking spaces.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell