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Intermingling in 'Hoods and in Politics

From the East Parkcenter Bridge to the City Council Races

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It got a little easier for some people to get out of town last week when the new East Parkcenter Bridge opened to some degree of fanfare. But after a dozen years of back and forth with the developers of Harris Ranch over who would pay for it and when they would pay for it, the fanfare was a bit subdued.

In the end, development will pay for 65 percent of the cost of the bridge--some $13.5 million--in the form of impact fees. But that might take years and requires new waves of already approved development in East Boise's picturesque Barber Valley.

Harris Ranch fronted $5.3 million of the cost of the bridge, according to Ada County Highway District spokesman Craig Quintana. Harris Ranch owners also contributed $1.8 million in right of ways and the Harris family pitched in $3 million for wetland mitigation.

Barber Mill Company, the other large developer adjacent to Harris Ranch, fronted almost $1 million in right of ways for the project, Quintana said.

Taxpayers bear the cost for the rest of the $20.8 million bridge project.

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correspondent Mathias Morache, wanting to get his share of the action, took a little ride over the bridge to test it out.

"The ambition is to intermingle neighborhoods. Mesa dwellers need only jaunt across the river to access Bown Crossing, while Boiseans dwelling on the south side of the Boise River now have prime Greenbelt access. Additionally, with a new route into downtown, ACHD hopes to take traffic off of Warm Springs Avenue, which for most of the summer was shut down and then rerouted on a new circuitous course through the fields of Harris Ranch," Morache wrote at citydesk.boiseweekly.com.

Speaking of intermingling, two candidates for one of the Boise City Council seats up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, dropped out of the race, endorsing a third player. 9-12 Project of Idaho media rep Leland Lay and Steven Siebers, who started out--like many of the candidates this year--campaigning against plans for a downtown streetcar, quit and backed David Litster, a Brigham Young University alum and Harvard MBA who works for his sister's law firm, Litster Frost Injury Lawyers, in marketing and HR. You may have the firm's magnet on your refrigerator.

Litster will duke it out with TJ Thomson, a Boise State grad with a masters in public affairs from Indiana University who has been campaigning for months for the seat being abandoned by Jim Tibbs.

Litster told

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intern Andrew Crisp that Boise does not need a streetcar, picking up on the "trolley folly" label. Thomson told Crisp that he's not making any knee-jerk reactions to the streetcar and will wait to see an engineering study, already underway.

Over in Eagle, two incumbent city councilors--Idaho GOP chairman Norm Semanko and former Jackson Hole, Wyo., mayor Jeanne Jackson-Heim--face three challengers. Amy Aaron, John Grasser and Saundra McDavid are seeking spots running Eagle. Eagle has been a political hotbed with fights over growth and development, so we'll let you know when these five start duking it out.

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