Boise’s New Planning Director Warns Against 'Dysfunctional Highways'

On the heels of his stint as Atlanta’s planning director, Tim Keane says Boise should avoid following in the path of American cities that have let highway expansion and sprawl go unchecked for decades.

2 minute read

May 27, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Boise Idaho

Pinpals / Pixabay

George Prentice interviews Tim Keane, the new director of Planning and Development Services for the City of Boise, for Boise State Public Radio. When it comes to land use and transportation planning, Keane says planners must “Let go of those flawed ideas that shaped cities for the last generation. Just let them go.” 

Pouring money and resources into “dysfunctional highways,” says Keane, doesn’t work. “I can say with great confidence, since I just came from Atlanta, which has the most beautifully designed interchanges you've ever seen that are choked in traffic, that a concentration on designing the most dysfunctional highway that you can is time that's misplaced, because it hasn't worked in any city anywhere in the world.”

When asked about his decision to move from Atlanta to Boise, Keane tells Prentice, “If you look at American cities in the way they've grown over the past 50 or 60 years, the pattern is very similar. The scale is different. But in Boise, the question that intrigues me is, ‘Can we in Boise address these very challenging issues in ways that are better than any American city?’” 

According to Keane, “This is a city where we should be concentrating on designing it such that many, many more people can drive less.” Keane goes on, “The only way to do that, however, is if you build beautiful streets that are vibrant and safe for people.” Keane wants Boise to avoid mistakes made by other cities, saying, “let's take up a new collection of ideas around how we address this differently, such that we're building a city that is in the spirit of what the city is today versus becoming something that's utterly different and much like every other city in America.”

Monday, May 23, 2022 in Boise State Public Radio

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing funding for tiny home shelter project in front of quick-build tiny home shelter unit.

California’s Tiny Home Pledge Still on Paper, One Year Later

A promise to fund 1,200 tiny homes for unhoused residents in four cities as a way to rapidly and cost-effectively provide shelter has yet to yield tangible results, but projects are moving ahead in some cities.

May 24 - CALmatters

Residential neighborhood in Colorado with fall foliage and snowy mountains in background.

Colorado Ends Non-Family Occupancy Limits

Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to limit how many unrelated adults can live in a household, a move that supporters say will help lower housing costs and help older adults supplement their incomes and stay in their homes.

May 24 - Strong Towns

A white crosswalk painted by Crosswalk Collective LA in Los Angeles, California.

Guerilla Urbanism Spurs Action From Cities

Rather than take a hostile approach to DIY urbanism, some cities are using guerilla efforts as an opportunity to understand critical infrastructure gaps.

May 24 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.