If we say the words "controversy" and "streets," is "transportation" the first word you'd think of? If you live in Boise, it might be. It's a politically volatile subject, and likely to remain so—especially as major changes unfold through 2014 and 2015.
Tension between the city of Boise and the Ada County Highway District is nothing new. It was well characterized in a Boise Weekly report (BW, News, "El Alcalde Sin Calles," April 30, 2014): Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was recalling a conversation he had with the former Socialist Basque president and his wife, who were visiting from Bilbao, Spain, for Boise's 2010 Jaialdi festival. Bieter was explaining how he governed nearly all of Boise yet had little, if any, say over what happened from curb to curb on city streets.
"El alcalde sin calles!" the president's wife exclaimed. "The mayor with no streets!"
It's a funny anecdote, but it's more telling than comedic. The gap between the city of Boise and ACHD has never been wider—literally and politically. In spring 2014, the dustup started with bike lanes.
The first whiff of trouble came April 23, 2014, when the Idaho Environmental Forum invited Bieter to break bread with ACHD Commission President John S. Franden. IEF emcee Chris Meyer said he received a cautionary email from ACHD General Counsel Steven Price.
"Great job in getting these men to your event," Price wrote. "But if this turns into a food fight, it will be your fault."