It wasn't too long ago that Boise's freeway system--and in particular the pre-connector version of Interstate-184--had some of the best highway landscaping in the West. Heck, we at BW probably have the youngest editorial staff in town (at least judging by those California Raisin-esque Statesman staff photos), and most of us remember the bushes, the trees, the hedges--oh, the hedges! It was like driving through a vegetable crisper; today's version is like the canal from the car chase in Terminator 2. That's why it's so nice to hear that the Idaho Department of Transportation is finally--finally!--taking steps to doll up the apocalyptic-looking area around the Flying Wye interchange. And even better, they want public input on it.
Remember the $12 million forest Brent Coles wanted to plop onto the interchange? Nope? Good. The two new options the ITD released last weekend couldn't be further from it. Both plans--titled "High Desert" and "Prairie"--call for native flora that require little water and maintenance. Judging by the pics at www.itd.idaho.gov, they're also rather intricate, involving myriad different shrubs, flowers, boulders and even small lakes (Funny, we thought we were supposed to keep our eyes on the road.)
Of course, there are also low points. The ITD's underpass art ideas, for instance--which include (sigh) fake hieroglyphs and a carving of a kayaker--are laughable. But the good part is you can tell the ITD so, simply by visiting the Web site, looking at the ideas and filling out the comment form. Work on the project isn't set to commence until 2010--about the same time that the first wave of "Don't blame me, I voted for 'High Desert'" bumper stickers are set to appear.