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What could ease the Treasure Valley's traffic congestion?

From widening roads to making some areas safer for bikes, see what officials are tackling in 2019 as Boise continues to grow.

Devin Ramey

ACHD

Boise and rest of the booming Treasure Valley are growing so rapidly that traffic planners briefly considered expanding State Street to nine lanes.

But, to the relief of some, adding a California freeway-like amount of lanes to one of the Treasure Valley's main thoroughfares — which currently mostly ranges from 4 to 5 lanes —  isn't currently an Ada County Highway District (ACHD) plan. 

"That really wasn't what the community wanted," said Ryan Head, the ACHD planning and programs supervisor. 

So what does the community want?

Managing the valley's roadways while meeting the growing number of drivers requires a coordinated approach involving multiple agencies. There's plenty of cooperation, but addressing congestion in the Treasure Valley also involves several conflicting viewpoints.

So far, road widening has been ACHD's most common method of easing congestion around the Treasure Valley. 

Others advocate for combating traffic in other ways, such as boosting alternative transportation.

Idaho is the only state in the nation that does not fund public transportation, according to a spokesperson with Valley Regional Transit, the Treasure Valley bus service and one of the Treasure Valley's two main public transit options. The lack of state funding inhibits some public transportation projects that would get more cars off the roads, such as Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's circulator project or Valley Regional Transit's long-term vision for an upgraded bus program called ValleyConnect 2.0.

And while small pockets of Boise are especially conducive to cyclists and others getting around without cars, some argue there's much work to be done. 

"There are days when I am riding my bike to work, I’m worried because there’s a lot of cars very close to me and it's pretty intimidating," said Cynthia Gibson, the executive director of the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance.

No matter if you've lived in Boise for 10 years or if you're a newcomer to Idaho, it can be hard to dissect the different public transit options in the Treasure Valley.

We decided to take a closer look at what exactly the biggest hurdles and priorities are when it comes to easing traffic congestion in the Treasure Valley.