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Boise Mayor McLean on 'once in a generation opportunity' with possible federal transportation funding

Idaho Congressman Simpson requested $2 million in federal funding for the State Street corridor and Mayor McLean said the city was thankful for his selection.
Credit: Logan Schenk / KTVB
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean speaks during the city's first hybrid City Council meeting. Some people attended in person while others attended virtually.

BOISE, Idaho — First-term Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said on Wednesday that the city is grateful for Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson's support of federal funding for mass transportation in the Treasure Valley. The Republican representative requested millions in federal funding for a key thoroughfare in the Treasure Valley.

Mayor McLean said funding for the State Street corridor, a state highway that connects downtown Boise to Middleton and much of the Treasure Valley, under President Joe Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure bill would be a "once in a generation opportunity."

Rep. Simpson (R-District 2) requested federal funding for six transportation projects across Idaho for his community investments, which ranged from McCammon and Burley to Boise and Pocatello, as part of President Biden's infrastructure bill. The requested funding for the projects ranged from $1.7 million to $5.4 million.

The request for the State Street corridor was $2 million and would cover a laundry list of improvements to the well-used traffic corridor, according to Bre Bush, Mayor McLean's transportation advisor.

"This money will add real-time information at stops, it'll improve shelters at bike racks," she explained, "and it will also add bus pull outs to minimize the traffic disruption so buses are able to pull off out of the lane instead of stopping in the lane and allowing people to board while they're potentially holding up traffic behind them."

According to Simpson's request, the real-time data on buses would inform passengers exactly when the next bus is approaching.

The funding requested by Simpson is still a far cry from bringing rail or other mass transportation to the Treasure Valley, but it's a start, according to the mayor.

"I see [it] now as a once in a generation opportunity for some larger investments that we haven't necessarily seen before. And there are officials in many of these communities that believe the same and so we're trying to make that case," she said.

Mayor McLean added that she spoke with the White House to talk about the American Jobs Plan and Boise and the Treasure Valley's infrastructure needs.

"We highlighted our thankfulness and gratitude frankly that Congressman Simpson selected the VRT (Valley Regional Transit) investment as one of his community investments because that's one of many pieces that we need to see in order to connect communities from Middleton into Boise and back and forth along the State Street corridor," she said.

Alongside the mayor's discussion on public transportation funding, Bush also explained that the city is continuing its sponsorship of May in Motion and all Boise bus routes will be free for the month of May. The City of Boise has sponsored the event since it started 15 years ago, Bush said.

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