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.

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

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