How Should Traffic, Bicycles Flow on Boise's 8th Street?



With the grand opening of the 8th and Main Tower now just a few weeks away, new focus is being turned to how people and traffic should be moving through 8th Street, a lifeline in Boise's downtown core.

While nearly every other street is managed and operated by the Ada County Highway District, ever since the mid-1980s, the Capital City Development Corporation has owned and operated 8th Street from Bannock to Main streets. That also means CCDC manages building-face to building-face where multiple spots for outdoor dining and seating exist.

Now that construction fencing surrounding the 8th and Main Tower is coming down, CCDC will consider a number of options for 8th Street. In fact, CCDC has earmarked $100,000 in its 2014 budget for the "8th Street Reconfiguration Project.," including $13,500 for Kittleson and Associates which has identified eight different options. The majority of the budgeted expenses are expected to include engineering, traffic signals, signage, pavement markings and a public outreach campaign concerning the street.

One of the eight options comes from so-called "walkability guru" Jeff Speck who was hired by CCDC in the summer of 2013 to weigh in on what might make Boise more friendly to pedestrians and motorists.

According to an internal CCDC memo, Speck is recommending that 8th Street be turned into two-way traffic, with each lane being shared between bikes and cars, and allowing parallel parking on the east side of the street.

All of the options have been forwarded to the city of Boise and ACHD, "neither of which has identified any additional fatal flaws," according to the memo.

But CCDC officials are reluctant to make a decision on 8th Street before they learn more about Gardner Company's ambitious plans to develop a multi-modal center at the nearby U.S. Bank Plaza.

"It doesn't make sense to implement a change on 8th Street only to potentially have it change again while the [multi-modal center] is being built, with Main Street potentially closed for several months," according to the memo.