It caught more than a few people by surprise when, during the April 8 meeting of the Capital City Development Corporation, there was mention of "the possibility of making Eighth Street, between Bannock and Idaho streets, bicycle- and pedestrian-only during most of the day."
City of Boise and Ada County Highway District officials were hearing about the idea for the first time.
"We heard about it when you heard it," ACHD spokesman Craig Quintana told Boise Weekly. "It was new to us."
Max Clark, CCDC's parking and facilities director, told BW that the concept, which has been talked about for years--but never formally--was "theoretical at this stage."
"We have [CCDC] board members who are interested in what [the closing] would mean," said Clark. "Additionally, there are adjacent property owners and businesses that will want to talk about it."
For now, CCDC has scheduled an "informal" lunch meeting between the CCDC board and staff Wednesday, April 24, to talk about the proposal.
Adam Park, spokesman for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who also happens to be a newly installed CCDC board member, said the city is "more than happy to have that discussion."
"But it's unlikely that the street will ultimately be closed," said Park. "Having a pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment is a top priority for the mayor, but we found that closing streets doesn't accomplish that because it creates increased pressure elsewhere. We've operated under a philosophy of maintaining connectivity wherever possible."
Eighth Street, between Bannock and Idaho, is a unique thoroughfare in that it is owned and managed by CCDC, not ACHD, which manages every other stretch of public road in Ada County.
"It's our street," said the CCDC's Clark. "We're the ultimate decision-maker on that street. We do have to coordinate with others, of course--ACHD and the city--but basically, the agency owns the street from Bannock to Main and we've got to get our heads around where we're going to go first."
Long before any closure, CCDC would presumably sit down with representatives from the Downtown Boise Association, the city of Boise and ACHD.
"And certainly before there was any significant change like that, we obviously would want the public to weigh in on this," said Quintana. "This is a new wrinkle."