U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday that he’ll send a team of his agency’s experts to Boise to address technical and financial hurdles of Mayor Dave Bieter’s vision.
Bieter has advocated a Downtown streetcar in the past, but that plan stalled over issues such as financing and the support of Downtown businesses that might have been taxed to pay for the streetcar. He’s also been a vocal advocate of giving cities the power to levy local-option sales taxes to pay for bus, rail and other transportation services.
Boise is eyeing installation of a commuter rail system and enhanced bus service to connect Boise to its neighboring communities, as well as ways of moving people quickly through Downtown once they’re there, city spokesman Adam Park said.
Designing and building such a system would be easier with access to federal money, and Department of Transportation personnel know how to get that money, LaHood said.
Details as to how many department team members would come to Boise and when they would arrive have yet to be worked out, Park said.
LaHood toured locomotive manufacturer MotivePower’s Boise headquarters Wednesday as part of a trip through Western states.
Bieter presented LaHood with a gift from the city: a bicycle helmet autographed by two-time Olympic gold medalist and Boise resident Kristin Armstrong.
“As a cyclist myself, I will proudly not wear this,” LaHood said. “Obviously, this is an extraordinary gift and I’m very grateful to you.”
LaHood said the Department of Transportation would also work with the city to lengthen a runway at the Boise Airport.
Sven Berg: 377-6275