Idaho Department of Lands blocks multi-million dollar transit project

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by Stephanie Zepelin

NWCN.com

Posted on May 3, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 6:50 AM

BOISE -- The Idaho Department of Lands has put the brakes on a Valley Regional Transit project.

Valley Regional Transit announced they were going forward with a multi-million dollar transit facility near the capitol building. However, the Idaho Department of Lands has put a stop to it.

This parking lot at the corner of North 8th Street and West Jefferson Street was the proposed site for Valley Regional Transit's $12 million Multi-Modal Center. However, that site is managed by the Idaho Department of Lands.

"The Idaho Department of Lands and the Land Board manage 2.4 million acres of state endowment trust land across the state, including the parking lot at 8th and Jefferson," said Emily Callihan, from the Idaho Department of Lands.

On Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Lands sent Valley Regional Transit a letter explaining they are turning down the proposed transit center at that location.

"It takes a long time to work through due diligence and to explore what issues and option there may be for any type of development," said Callihan.

The letter from the Idaho Department of Lands to Valley Regional Transit says there have "been receiving mounting negative feedback about the proposal" from downtown businesses and members of the state legislature. It goes on to say, some of the feedback said the transit center would "negatively swell the amount of traffic and congestion," "diminish safety near the capitol," and "could harm the block's historic character." The letter also says Idaho Department of Lands will continue with the current lease on the site, but they're open to other future options.
   
KTVB asked Valley Regional Transit for comment. They sent us a release saying in part, "It is troubling that the Idaho State Land Board, which is bound to seek the maximum return on its investments in order to benefit the school endowment fund, would forego increased revenue for schools because of unfounded and largely political concerns about the impacts of transit on surrounding areas." It goes on to say that, "The future of Idaho's economy depends on building an efficient transit system."

Valley Regional Transit did not respond to KTVB's requests for an on camera interview.

Valley Regional Transit would also not comment on this project when KTVB spoke with their Community Relations Manager earlier Friday. However, he said they are moving forward with plans for another transit center in Caldwell. They just purchased the site they intend to use for that project at the former Happy Day Ford Dealership on Cleveland Boulevard.

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