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Crystal ball says: Valley destined for fatness

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Halloween may be two weeks away, but it's not too early to scare the crap out of yourself and your friends with a look into Boise's future. The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) has posted online the Treasure Valley growth scenarios it presented at public meetings across the valley last week. Using modest population forecasts, COMPASS presented a pair of contrary visions of what our region may look like in 2030--and how we will, or won't, get around in that super-crowded future (Sorry, no hoverbikes).

A quarter century from now, the plans say, expect nearly a million people living in Ada, Canyon, Gem, Elmore, Boise and Payette counties. If we continue to follow current growth and transportation patterns, says the "Trend" scenario created by COMPASS and the Idaho Department of Transportation, expect to see nearly 500,000 of your closest friends sitting next to you on I-84 or Eagle Road on the way to work (as opposed to the approximately 250,000 employees in the valley now). On the other hand, by the "Community Choices" plan also presented by COMPASS and ITD, transportation capital will be gradually shifted from roadway construction to public transit. By this idealized plan, increased density of urban housing is key (read: Boise, embrace the idea of being a "big city" now, or fight a losing battle later), but on the good side, two-thirds less of the surrounding farmland will be consumed by new housing and expanded roads. Sprawl or density; cars or trains; pick your horses now, Treasure Valley. View the plans and comment on them at ww.communitiesinmotion.org/openhouses.html.