Thursday, March 25, 2010

Odds and Ends

The interesting bits about ACHD seem to be few and far between these days, at least in my opinion. We'll be having a lot of asphalt hit the ground this summer and hopefully even some permissive left green signals may go in. But nothing really exciting is happening and since we have no meeting next week, things are really thin on the ground.

Some things you won't see covered in the media.

We're going to auction off a whole lot of used vehicles and equipment on April 22 at the Idaho Auto Auction. If you're in the market for a 15 passenger van or a 1957 small Ford tractor, here's your chance to pick one up at a great price. Lots of 1/2 ton pickups as well from the 1990's.

Ten Mile Rd from Franklin to Cherry in Meridian will be closed from March 25 to April 2 for pipe work. There will be business access at Ten Mile and Cherry Lane and signage directing how to access businesses. Hopefully, the impact to those businesses will be minimized as much as possible.

Bus ridership in the Ada/Canyon County area is down 2.7% from October 2009 thru February 2010, which surprises me that it is not more because of our unemployment rate. Ridership is down 3% in the Boise area but up 2.7% in Nampa/Caldwell. Even with this latest downturn, ridership is up tremendously over the past two years.

May in Motion will occur again this year. Valley Ride will be distributing 7000 bus passes to partipating businesses and agencies. VRT hopes to have 82 businesses involved this year so if you're interested and have a business that wants to be involved, contact Mark Carnopis at 208-846-8547. Last year's May in Motion was very successful and the hope is this year will be as well in introducing people to the wonders of bus ridership and carpooling.

Over and out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Can't Get There from Here

There's going to be a lot of construction going on this summer in Ada County including roadway overlays, a few road and intersection widenings, pedestrian accesses, and chip sealing of roads that were overlaid in the last 1-2 years. It's going to make for some frustrating travel. However, ACHD is committed to providing information on what the scheduling will be. The best information will be on the website since you really can't count on getting detailed information into the Idaho Statesman anymore (well, actually not for a long while now).

However, what we hope to have on the website are the time frames which the projects will encompass. Last year I suggested that we upgrade the chipsealing page to include not only what areas will be done during the season but more of an idea of what time smaller areas within the larger area would be done. So instead of seeing chipsealing parts of Eagle from June - August, you would have seen a finer delineation of what was happening.

For example, this year, if all goes well, you might see that Cole Rd from Fairview to Franklin will be overlayed during the weeks of June 21-July 2. We are also going to insist that contractors start and finish a segment rather than tear off the top of the road, go work somewhere else and then weeks later finally finish. Since there will be so many projects happening this summer, there might be a few glitches in the delivery or posting of the information. Apologies in advance.

Roads that were resurfaced a year or two ago will be chipsealed. This is not done to irritate the heck out of people, but actually because it adds many years of life to a road and is a cost effective use of your dollars. As as we all know, or all should know if they still taught civics/government in schools, that tax dollars don't come from Obama or ACHD or the money fairy, but they instead come from all of us individuals.

If there's something you think is missing on the website, contact us with your suggestions. It's there for you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Roadwork Coming Your Way

There will be a lot of overlay road projects happening within the next few months. This is the "stimulus" money - you know, the money that was voted on, oh like a year ago. Anyway, no idea how many jobs were "saved", but here's a heads up on where the work is going to be.

The following include pedestrian ramp upgrades:

Overland from Five Mile to Maple Grove
Fairview from Milwaukee to Cole
Franklin from Five Mile to Maple Grove

Cloverdale from McMillan to Savage Dr
Ustick from Meridian to Locust Grove
McMillan from Locust Grove to Eagle
Meridian from Ustick to Lava Falls

The following are Thin Lift Overlays which will lay a nice surface on the existing roadway:

State from Pierce Park to Collister
Victory from Five Mile to Maple Grove
Orchard from I-84 to Overland

Ustick from Locust Grove to Leslie
Cloverdale from Camas to Franklin
Cloverdale from Ustick to Meadowwood Dr

Apple from Boise to Parkcenter
Lake Hazel from Cloverdale to Five Mile
Latah from Alpine to Americana

Franklin from McDermott to Black Cat
Boise from Gekeler to Apple
Ustick from Black Cat to Ten Mile

13th from Jefferson to State
Floating Feather from Edgewood Dr to Hwy 55
Lake Forest Dr from Quamash Way to Flax Place

And my personal favorite

Cole from Franklin to Fairview

I'm sure the traffic disruptions won't be too long and the result will be like driving on glass.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Notes from the Statehouse

Last week, I trekked over to the Statehouse, twice it turns out, to testify on HB 568 which would return all surplus property tax funds from urban renewal agencies to the real taxing districts. Right now urban renewal agencies collect property taxes within their boundaries and use them to service bonds for various projects like parking garages, streetscapes, water systems, roadways, whatever. They use the property taxes, or revenue allocation area revenues in tax speak, to pay off the bonds. What HB 568 does is target the excess.

I argued that highway districts still need to service the roads, cities still need to provide police and fire and school districts still need to educate the children living in the urban renewal areas. While we're speaking of only a small portion of overall tax valuation in the State of Idaho, nonetheless the urban renewal agencies have access to the taxes which flow from almost $4 billion in valuation. In Ada County alone, the tax valuation available only to the urban renewal agencies is over 3/4 of a billion dollars and in Canyon County it's over 1/2 of a billion dollars. It's unclear how much the surplus would be from year to year because of a number of factors like assessments, bond requirements, etc., but the issue is one of fairness.

I'll report on what the disposition of the bill is when something happens.

This was the first time I had seen the new and expanded Capitol. I was very impressed with the lower level. It's very warm and inviting. The hearing rooms are finished with rich looking woods and golden curtains and paint. The rooms are spacious, the seating comfortable, the acoustics grand. The lower level just bustles with energy.

The first floor - not so much, and the second as well. I was struck by the cleanliness of the spaces, but it's all marble. Very cold, almost like a mausoleum. There is very little in the way of decoration. All the statues the place used to hold have been exiled to somewhere with the exception of the gilded statue of Washington on his horse and the Nike of Samothrace, both of which are on the third floor. The first and second floors now seem superfluous which is sad. Hopefully, they will put some historical things out to draw people to those floors. Like where's the miner statue memorializing the Sunshine Mine disaster of May 2, 1972?

The Senate and House chambers have been refurbished and are nice, as they always were. The project was well done, as it should have been for $120,000,000.