Wednesday, March 23, 2011

City of Kuna, ACHD at odds over Park N Ride lot

The city of Kuna and the Ada County Highway District are at odds over a proposed Park N Ride lot in Kuna.
Despite having six items to cover in a pre-council workshop last week, the two sides spent all 90 minutes discussing just the one topic of the parking lot.
With nine ACHD Commuteride vans traveling out of Kuna every day, ACHD is looking for a 1- or 2-acre site to build a single parking lot to congregate vehicles. Currently, Commuteride vans meet passengers in four locations around Kuna, including the parking lots at Paul’s Market and the LDS church on Avalon Street.
Last year, ACHD identified Federal Transit Administration money to build a parking lot. ACHD began studying the issue in October and narrowed the list of potential sites to the following:
• Deer Flat Road, west of Hwy 69.
• Deer Flat Road, at School Avenue.
• Ten Mile Road, at Ardell Road.
• Ten Mile Road, north of Lake Hazel Road.
Last month, ACHD held an open house unveiling the four sites and soliciting feedback.
As was obvious at last week’s workshop, ACHD staff members and project team members favor the site at Deer Flat and Meridian roads. They cited interest among commuters who use Commuteride as well as a survey to which 29 people responded. In addition, ACHD owns a small portion of land at the site, and neighboring landowners expressed an eager willingness to sell to ACHD for the parking lot. Finally, ACHD staff members said this stretch of Deer Flat Road is a “poster child” for receiving funds from FTA, which is looking for projects to get cars off the road. They pointed to a photo of the traffic congestion at Deer Flat and Linder roads as an example of how a commuter parking lot would help alleviate such traffic.
Seems to all make sense, right? But city planning director Steve Hasson, Mayor Scott Dowdy and council members Lisa Bachman and Jeff Lang poked holes all over ACHD’s proposal.
First off, the city expressed disappointment that ACHD had not contacted the city right off the bat, back in October but waited until just a few weeks ago. After all, this is the city’s jurisdiction. Why not work closely with the city from the start?
Had they done that, Point No. 2, they would have learned that the site at Deer Flat and Meridian had already been planned, platted and approved by the city, bringing with it land use encumbrances, an LID assessment and a collector road running right through the middle of it.
Third, much — if not most — of the problem traffic at Deer Flat and Linder is caused by people going to the high school, which wouldn’t be alleviated by a park n ride lot, Lang pointed out.
Another point that wasn’t brought up is that by putting a parking lot at Deer Flat and Meridian, you’d actually be adding as many as 100 cars to the area from the Commuteride passengers who are now driving to Avalon Street.
The city, rightly in my mind, favors Ten Mile Road for the parking lot. City Council members voted for Ten Mile and Ardell as their first preference, Ten Mile and Lake Hazel as their second choice.
Personally, I favor Ten Mile and Lake Hazel. For starters, the city of Kuna already owns the land, so no money would have to be used to purchase or lease any land. Next, the city has already planned for a park n ride lot on this land. Also, once the Ten Mile interchange with I-84 is completed this summer, Ten Mile will become a major thoroughfare in the future for Kuna, likely a route for many commuters. Finally, it likely will be much easier for Valley Regional Transit to divert a bus a couple of miles down Ten Mile Road and back up to its usual route than it would be to drive some six miles to Deer Flat Road and back up to Overland.
ACHD staff did make some valid points that shouldn’t be overlooked. One is that a parking lot can be an economic stimulus to the immediate area, as commuters will tend to pick up dry cleaning or dinner near where they park their car. If the city is interested in getting the so-called Profile Ridge development jumpstarted, their ears should perk up at that argument.

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