An efficient transportation system is all about options not just alternative routes but also different ways of getting around: car, bus, vanpool, biking, walking, rail. Providing for these alternatives not just for convenience but to assure the efficient flow of goods, services and workers that is so vital to Boise's prosperity is one of my top priorities as mayor. And we're fortunate to have a strong ally in that cause in U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. I had the honor of hosting Secretary LaHood this week during the Boise stop of his tour of Western states. We had a breakfast meeting at the Boise Depot, took a quick turn through downtown, and then toured MotivePower, the Boise-based manufacturer that supplies locomotive engines to cities across the country and around the world. Secretary LaHood sees in Boise what I do: a world-class city that has tremendous potential, but one whose great livability will be jeopardized if we allow gridlock, deteriorating air quality and an unsustainable approach to transportation to take hold. Many cities have tried to pave their way out of traffic congestion; all have failed. What we hear from other, larger communities around the West is that they wish they had started developing transportation options earlier when they were still our size, before they had poured so many hundreds of millions of dollars exclusively into roads, and before developing transit alternatives became so much more costly.
To allow us to avoid such mistakes, Secretary LaHood has pledged to send representatives from the Federal Transit Authority and his office to Boise to examine our city's transit options and to help us chart the best path forward. We need to take steps now not later to preserve Boise's livability and ensure that we have a transportation system that works for the 21st century. Our city, and our children, deserve nothing less.
Dave Bieter is mayor of Boise. The above is his weekly e-memo to constituents.