The debate among stakeholders and neighbors has been heated since the Boise City Council gave St. Luke's the OK in 2015 to begin expanding its downtown Boise footprint The St. Luke's master plan started to become a reality on June 15 when crews from Texas-based Environmental Design Inc. began digging up a century-old, 98-foot-tall sequoia on the St. Luke's campus for transplantation. The project, which will cost $300,000, will see the tree moved to Fort Boise Park during the late night hours of Saturday, June 24.
The sequoia removal is a prelude to a far larger aspect of the master plan, which includes building a new children's medical center, a 375,000-square-foot medical tower, a new parking garage and 100,000 square feet of new office space. The hospital also plans to move its main entrance from Bannock Street to First Street.
In addition, $5 million worth of changes to roads in a 12-block area around the hospital will begin once the tree is moved. Temporary traffic signals and signs have already begun popping up on First, Fort, Jefferson and State streets, as well as on Avenue B.
In early July, crews will shift traffic lanes on Avenue B, Fort and State streets as they begin installing a roundabout at the intersection of Fort and Reserve streets. Road construction will continue through the first half of 2018 and will include a second roundabout at the intersection of Third and Fort streets, and Robbins Road.
Simultaneously, work on the medical center campus will get underway and will include constructing a cycle track and new sidewalks along Idaho Street, necessitating more tree removal. Officials at the City of Boise Community Forestry office said many of those trees were unhealthy or unsafe and had already been slated for removal. St. Luke's planners intend to plant new trees in the area once dust from the construction has settled.