ACHD draws a horde

New board will face millions of dollars in new projects


The Ada County Highway District has three commission seats up for election this year and is also asking for an increase in county vehicle registration fees on the ballot.

The district currently charges an average of $13 and a maximum of $20 for vehicle registration, on top of the state registration fee. The fees depend on the age of the car, but the district is seeking to double them.

According to ACHD spokeswoman Robbie Johnson, the fee supports sidewalks, crosswalks and flashing lights near schools, rebuilding intersections to eliminate congestion, coordinating traffic signals and building bike lanes.

Voters across the district can support or oppose the fee increase on Nov. 4, or sooner if they vote absentee.

Voters in three of the ACHD's five sub-districts will also get to select a new commissioner in hotly contested races. Commissioners are paid a monthly stipend of $1,686 and attend many night meetings.

Retiring District 5 Commissioner Dave Bivens, 83, said that ACHD races are always hotly contested. He has been on the commission for 10 years, and in the last election, faced eight challengers.

"Everyone has an idea that they would like to be part of the process," Bivens said.

ACHD's most recent large project is the East Park Center Bridge, which is now under construction after almost a decade of discussion.

Bivens said that highway district projects just take a long time, in part because of turnover in the cities.

"You can appreciate the fact that one of the challenges is that as the city council changes and you have new members on the council, their plans change," he said.

The next commission will work on another huge bridge project, the Three Cities River Crossing, intended to connect State Street and Chinden Boulevard at Highway 55.

Bivens said this potentially $100-million project involves three cites and the Idaho Transportation Department. An expansion of Kuna-Mora Road to the south of Boise, linking Ada and Canyon counties, is also on the docket, and developers on Boise's southern flank would like seven lanes, Bivens said.

Here are the people seeking a seat on the commission that will massage these projects through the system:

In ACHD's District 1, Commission President Carol McKee has three challengers: Rocky Bogert, Robert Crawford and George Pescaru.

The district covers southeast Boise and Ada County to the Elmore County line.

In District 2, centered on the I-84 and I-184 split, Commissioner Rebecca Arnold faces Jim Neill.

District 5 in northwest Ada County, is the most sought-after position with seven candidates vying for an open seat: Sara Baker, Rod Beck, Stephen Loop, Gordon Simpson, Robert Switzer, John Tomkinson and David Zaremba.