by Andrew Crisp
Downtown Boise could see a new transportation center as soon as 2014. But before that happens, officials want public input and thoughts about the project. An open house hosted by Valley Regional Transit all day Tuesday showed potential plans for the project.
The plan calls for a $11.9 million transportation hub, called a Multi-Modal Transit Center, which would stand at four stories, and would include retail space and parking facilities for commuters. It could also tie into a future streetcar project.
Officials are considering a lot at the intersection of Eighth and Jefferson streets for the site.
"The building would have public restrooms, a break room for the drivers, customer service people there and a Boise Police substation," said Mark Carnopis, VRT community relations manager.
Plans for the facility would replace a 67-space surface parking lot behind Boise's Hoff Building with more parking within the structure. Commuters could park at the facility and walk downtown or grab a bus headed to other parts of the Treasure Valley.
"We're hoping to have something like what's at the airport. You see your flight that's coming in. Here, you could see a list of buses coming through the multi-modal center," said Rhonda Jalbert, VRT capital infrastructure project manager.
A multi-modal center would fit into VRT's long-term regional transportation system, officials said, serving as a hive of activity in the downtown core.
"This is thinking ahead," said Carnopis. "We have a plans for a regional transportation system."
But Jalbert added that the facility is also a short-term goal—the building would serve the area's current traffic.
"The facility could be utilized today," she said. "We would just increase the frequency from there."
She added that would mean freeing five downtown blocks from on-street bus staging. Currently, buses line up along Main and Idaho streets, blocking a whole lane from use.
Those lanes could become more on-street parking for businesses along those busy roads.
VRT was previously awarded the bulk of the funding for the project from a Federal Transit Authority Grant, to the tune of $9.5 million. Boise's Capital City Development Corporation agreed to contribute funding to bring the budget up to $11.9 million.