This fall will bring some big changes to Boise's downtown core, with construction on the Grove to build City Center Plaza--which will include a subterranean transit center--and the resurfacing of Capitol Boulevard.
But one of the most high profile changes coming to downtown will take place on Eighth Street, between Bannock and Main streets. Starting in early September, traffic will no longer flow north to south on the two blocks, but reverse directions to run one-way from south to north.
"You're going to be challenged, because you've been doing it one-way for a long time," said John Brunelle, executive director of the Capital City Development Corporation, Boise's urban renewal agency. "Change is hard, but people can adapt. It should work very well and we're very optimistic."
That two-block stretch of Eighth Street is the only through street in the city of Boise not controlled by the Ada County Highway District. So it was up to the eight members of CCDC's board of commissioners--which includes Mayor Dave Bieter and City Council members David Eberle and Lauren McLean--to switch the direction of the one-way. They said they wanted to align the street with the stretch that runs north to the Boise Co-op.
"[Eighth Street] is already chaos," said Eric Larson, who's worked at Pie Hole, near the corner of Eighth and Main streets, for more than three years. "It's a two-way in the North End, then it becomes a one-way, then it changes directions, then it becomes a two-way again. It's a mess."
From Pie Hole's noisy, hot kitchen, Larson has a front-row seat to Eighth Street at all hours of the day and night. He said the transition will be "entertaining, for sure."
Brunelle agrees that the transition will be the trickiest part. CCDC is planning a hefty public education campaign, lots of signage and traffic controllers on the ground in the beginning. But Brunelle is convinced this change is for the best, both for economic development and for diverting traffic away from the Grove while it's under construction.
The configuration will include a southbound bike lane buffered with paint, going against traffic and on the opposite side of the street from parking (which will remain unchanged). Northbound bikes will share the lane with traffic.
"Maybe [the bike lane] will become a model for the rest of Eighth Street," Brunelle said. "I don't want to make anyone mad, but they should have kept the pilot going longer."
Brunelle estimates the project will cost $75,000-$100,000. It'll be paid for through revenue brought in by property tax.