Bill to give state control of streets around Idaho Capitol in Boise held in committee

Representatives from the city of Boise, ACHD testify in opposition of proposed legislation

By: - February 15, 2023 10:53 am
Idaho State Capitol

In this March 2021 file photo, the Idaho State Capitol building’s grounds feature a statue of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln signed a bill in 1863 that created the original Idaho Territory. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

This story was originally published on the Idaho Reports blog on Feb. 15, 2023.

The Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee held a bill Wednesday that would have given the state some oversight over projects impacting the roads around the Capitol building.

Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, pitched House Bill 25, which would require authorization from the Department of Administration for any project with long-term impacts to the roads around the Capitol building.

Palmer said the bill isn’t about events held in the area, it only applies to permanent projects on the roads around the Capitol building, including sections of and Sixth and Eighth streets in downtown Boise.

Kathy Griesmyer, the government affairs director for the city of Boise, testified in opposition to the bill.

“We feel this bill is unnecessary and it’s going to be adding additional layers of bureaucracy in approving local projects that the city of Boise or a highway district would be looking to seek approval for,” Griesmyer said.

She pointed to a project the city is working on with the Ada County Highway District to change Fifth and Sixth Streets from one-way streets to two-way streets that could be in jeopardy under the bill.

Scott Shoenherr of Rafanelli and Nahas, a development firm that owns the Boise Plaza downtown and the surrounding land, also testified in opposition to the bill, targeting proposed changes to the streets.

“I believe HB 25 is a thinly-veiled attempt to derail the progress that’s been made to change Fifth and Sixth Street from one-way to two-way streets,” he said.

He argued two-way streets are safer, more efficient and allow for better response times from emergency responders.

Benn Brocksome testified on behalf of the Ada County Highway District in opposition to the bill.

ACHD questions whether there are jurisdictional issues going forward, as ACHD is responsible for all maintenance of the roads.

“If this bill were to pass, I think it creates a jurisdictional issue where we’re now in conflict with the state to do what we’re mandated by the state to do,” Brocksome said.

Ultimately the committee held the bill, with Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, saying he wanted to see an Attorney General’s opinion on the issue before moving it forward.


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Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown is a writer and producer for Idaho Reports and Idaho Public Television.