Guest Opinions

ACHD should approve St. Luke’s Jefferson Street plan in Boise

Bob Taunton
Bob Taunton

Boise Elevated, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of Boise through business and community involvement, encourages the ACHD commissioners to approve the vacation of a portion of Jefferson Street as proposed by St. Luke’s.

Boise City has worked hard with the community and St. Luke’s to review and approve the campus Master Plan to ensure that the highest standard of health care continues for our community. Public involvement has been a hallmark of this process, with almost 100 work sessions, including open houses and stakeholder meetings. What remains is for ACHD to approve the vacation of a segment of Jefferson Street just west of Avenue B.

St. Luke’s has made a commitment to balance the Jefferson Street vacation with new, safer transportation options and improvements. It has pledged to ACHD in an executed three-party development agreement that it will spend approximately $4.5 million to improve the road, bike and pedestrian facilities that will create safer and increased commuting choices. St. Luke’s has also pledged an additional $4 million to assist the city in ensuring that additional travel ways are developed to connect the East End with Downtown, the Fort Boise area, and beyond.

We recognize that removing the Jefferson Street segment should not be considered without first ensuring that the traveling public has transportation facilities and choices that effectively replace that street segment. In response, St. Luke’s will, in large part, fund the development of specific improvements including a roundabout at Fort Street, Reserve Street and Avenue B; a separated cycle track around the campus; and enhanced sidewalks, multiuse paths and transit stops. All of these things will provide a significantly improved and safer transportation environment than presently exists. If you travel along this segment of Jefferson Street today, you see that the road is used mainly by cars traveling to and from the hospital, numerous delivery vehicles, and parked cars. Cyclists and pedestrians must contend with those obstacles, which is not the safest traveling environment.

Our community leaders know world-class health care facilities attract businesses. St. Luke’s expanded facilities will be a significant recruiting tool to bring businesses and employees to Boise. We are pleased to note that the Boise Chamber of Commerce’s 30-member Board of Directors also unanimously supported the St. Luke’s project. Chamber President and CEO Bill Connors stated, “Most American cities would fall over themselves to attract an investment of capital and high-end, green jobs like this project has. As a bonus, it certainly makes our city healthier and more livable with such easy access to world-class care. It is a huge net positive for Downtown Boise.”

The commitment demonstrated by St. Luke’s to ensure the highest level of health care for our community and to keep Boise connected with better and safer choices for the traveling public has earned the support of Boise Elevated. We encourage the ACHD commissioners to approve the vacation of this segment of Jefferson Street at their public hearing.

Bob Taunton is the executive director of Boise Elevated.

ACHD public hearing on St. Luke’s expansion

A public hearing is scheduled over two days next week: 6 p.m. Wednesday in the ACHD Auditorium, 3775 Adams St., in Garden City, and again at 6 p.m. Thursday at the same location. Find more details at the ACHD website: achdidaho.org

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