By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The 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 HB 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 6th and 8th 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 5th and 6th 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 5th and 6th 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.