A Light Rail for the Boise-Nampa MSA; An Inevitable Development

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Dr. Samia Islam


As cities grow in size and density, traffic problems rapidly create a strain on city resources and increase commute time for the urban workforce. Increased commute times deter potential talent from entering the city’s workforce and decrease the utility levels of urban residents. It is essential to the economic future of growing cities to find a viable means by which workers and employers can come together to accomplish economic activities. In the Northwest, several cities have implemented light rail systems to alleviate challenges that are a natural progression of economic growth, including Vancouver (1985), Portland (1986), Salt Lake City (1999) and most recently, Seattle (2003). Boise is the largest Metro area in the Pacific Northwest that does not yet have a light rail system. For Boise the question is not a matter of if the city will benefit from a light rail system, but when. In this study, we will conduct a comparative analysis of the costs and benefits of installing a light rail system to serve the Boise metro area. The federal government has approved $8 billion dollars for light rail projects in the U.S. The ready availability of this funding can potentially accelerate the time needed for Boise to complete a light rail since the city may be able to split the cost with the Federal Government. We expect to show through our analysis that the population density and growth rate of the Boise metro area warrants having a limited, but functional light rail system.

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