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BLOG: Boise Streetcar - YAY or NAY?

by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7


Posted on October 1, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 22 at 11:10 AM

Do you like the idea of the Boise Streetcar?

Did you know that electric streetcars were THE main mode of transportation in the Boise area from the 1890s to the late 1920s? Mayor Dave Bieter's vision is to bring the streetcars back!

The City of Boise, along with the Capital City Development Corp. - is working on a plan right now. A 35 member Task Force of Boise business leaders is also involved.

Streetcar 1.jpg

The mayor says a downtown streetcar could really help development and revitalization. It would operate on rails (like the one pictured above) and have a fixed route. Here is the route for phase one:

Boise Streetcar Route.png

It does have critics, though. The capital cost of the initial phase of a streetcar in Boise is expected to be $50 to $65 million. Where will that money come from? Federal grants, local funding options, and taxes. Some people are worried it will cost too much, and some local business owners are worried they will have to pay high taxes to cover it.

Portland has a streetcar - and according to Boise Streetcar planners - it cost 100 million dollars to build and has attracted $3.5 billion dollars in new business and development within 3 blocks of the line. Little Rock and Tampa have also have seen increases in local business with the addition of a streetcar system. Other cities are currently considering a streetcar too, we're not the only city working on this.

The question is, is this streetcar project a good idea to take on in our current economy? Is it too much for a city of our size?


Today there is a City of Boise OPEN HOUSE where you can get more information (and voice your opinion) about the Boise Streetcar - and what it would mean to the city, and to you. It's from 11:30 to 8pm today at the old Birkenstock store at 821 WEST IDAHO STREET in downtown Boise. If you go, you can provide feedback on written comment cards. The Streetcar Task Force will submit findings to the Boise City Council at the end of this year.

What do you think about the idea?