West Views: Opinions from newspapers in Idaho and the West commenting on Western issues

June 16, 2014 

Canyon County prefers its highway district system to Ada's

Idaho Press-Tribune

Maybe you're OK with traffic rerouting plans in downtown Nampa that would convert one-block stretches of 11th and 12th avenues to one-way streets to accommodate the addition of Library Square. Maybe you're not.

Either way, you have to appreciate the fact that Nampa actually gets to decide what it will do with its own roads. The same cannot be said for the city of Boise.

Whether or not you do much driving in Idaho's capital city, you've probably heard and read the news reports about the controversial bike lanes that were put in place Downtown. City officials liked the idea of giving cyclists a way to get around town without having to ride in traffic or on sidewalks, but some motorists complained about increased traffic congestion.

Since this involved traffic issues in the heart of the city, it's clearly an issue that should have been decided by the people closest to ground zero - in this case, city officials.

But it wasn't. Ada County has the Ada County Highway District, which controls the entire county and opted earlier this month to remove the bike lanes.

It's a big issue there. According to ACHD, more than 11,000 responses were submitted to an online survey in addition to more than 1,300 emails and phone calls, and about 55 percent of those who sounded off wanted the bike lanes gone.

But the city of Boise wanted more than just a one-month trial. It was overruled by ACHD.

Fortunately in Canyon County, decisions regarding city roads are made by city officials. Nampa City Council members determined the changes to accommodate Library Square, and if you don't like the way they voted, you can vote them out. Same goes for Caldwell, Middleton and Parma.

Ada County Highway District commissioners are elected, too, but a resident of Kuna isn't likely to take the Boise bike lane situation into much account when electing ACHD members. Say what you want to about all the different highway districts in Canyon County in addition to the cities themselves - Golden Gate Highway District No. 3 (Wilder, Greenleaf), Nampa Highway District No. 1 (city outskirts), Canyon Highway District No. 4 (outskirts of Middleton, Caldwell) and Notus Parma Highway District No. 2 - but because we have these distinct districts, you have much closer representation and decisions are made on a much more local level.

No matter what happens with Library Square traffic, somebody isn't going to be happy. But at least they have more control if they want to do something about it.

Did Mike Simpson's 2nd District race save Butch Otter's bacon?

Lewiston Tribune

In looking at the results of the May 20 primary in Idaho, it's clear the biggest winner was easily 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson.

He trounced Tea Party/Club for Growth primary challenger Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls attorney, by a margin of 61.6 percent to 38 percent.

By educating 2nd District voters about how weird some of the positions held by tea party adherents are, and how badly they will distort an incumbent's record as a rock-solid conservative, Simpson undoubtedly saved Gov. Butch Otter's candidacy for a third term.

Butch ought to send Mike a box of fresh Idaho spuds every month for the next four years, and he ought to offer to come by once a month to kiss Simpson's ring while slicing, dicing and cooking up the hash browns. ...

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