LaRita on August 19th, 2015

 Visit the Virtual Open House and leave your comments


Image USFWS/Susan Kain









The Lake Lowell Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Plan Project Team is developing a bicycle and pedestrian plan that aims to improve connectivity from the cities of Nampa and Caldwell to the Lake Lowell area to increase safety and improve the experience for bicyclists and pedestrians in the region. A Core Team of community stakeholders and professional consultants led by the Federal Highway Administration is currently seeking input on what types of transportation improvement projects members of the public would like to see included in this plan.  The Core Team leading this effort includes representatives from the Cities of Nampa (Bike Walk Nampa, Nampa Parks and Recreation, and Public Works staff) and Caldwell, Canyon and Nampa Highway Districts, Canyon County Development Services, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge and a team of consultants.

An interactive map displaying the planning area boundary is now available for public review until September 5, 2015. The map can be accessed here: Members of the public are encouraged to view the online map and submit comments regarding areas of concern and suggestions on where certain types of improvements should be made. Submitted comments will remain visible to others, allowing the public to see the concerns and ideas of their community members. Comments submitted will be considered and incorporated into the proposed plan.

 “There has been an increased interest in non-motorized transportation connections along rural roads with narrow shoulders from the Cities of Nampa and Caldwell to high-use recreation sites near Lake Lowell. These routes present safety and visitor experience concerns.  This project proposes to address these issues by creating a bicycle and pedestrian plan encompassing the region around Lake Lowell, including portions of Nampa and Caldwell,” said Tim Richard, an engineer with Canyon County Highway District who was instrumental in securing funding for the project.

The Lake Lowell Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Plan Project Team began planning efforts in July 2014 after receiving federal funding from the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), a transportation funding source aimed at improving connectivity between communities and Federally-owned lands. The Core Team is working to identify existing conditions and needs for bicyclists and pedestrians in the area. They have met with key community stakeholders to determine initial needs and improvements desired by members of the public. This information, along with input from a Technical Advisory Committee, will be included in the draft plan. Once public comment has been received and incorporated via the interactive map referenced above, a final plan will be adopted and approved by each local jurisdiction.

The consultant team is being led by Kimley-Horn and Associates, and includes JUB Engineers, Alta Planning and Design, and The Langdon Group.

For more information on the Lake Lowell Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Plan, please visit the interactive map. Questions can be directed to Susan Law at

LaRita on June 4th, 2015

stoddardWhen is the Stoddard pathway going to be finished?

The answer to this question is VERY complicated.  In fact, you’re probably wondering what happens to those comments we always ask you for and if it makes any difference. Well you should be glad to know that they have been used for multiple grant applications and also were included in the information packet given to the Nampa City Council this past Monday, June 1st. Your comments along with bicycle and pedestrian counts you have done, and other background information helped persuade the council to unanimously approve using city budget to get our own appraisal of the corridor property.

View the time line below to see why this is so critical.  What is the next step?  Well, if you are an authorized appraiser who is respected and approved by the Union Pacific Railroad, we’d certainly like to talk to you!  Once the city has its own appraisal it can make a counter offer and continue moving towards an agreement that both the city and Union Pacific can live with.  Once the right of way has been acquired and is officially owned by the city we can apply for grants to build the pathway.

What’s ahead

There is an outside chance that an agreement won’t be reached and if that occurs a couple of scenarios could play out.  1) Union Pacific might sell the entire corridor to another buyer who we might be able to negotiate with for the pathway easement; 2) Union Pacific might decide to make the corridor available to individual property owners in which case the city would have to negotiate with multiple buyers; or 3) we might have to consider creating an on-street route to complete the network connection to get users from where the trail now ends at Iowa to Nampa’s Historic Downtown.

In either case, we’re going to be looking for partners (corporate, nonprofit, healthcare industries, artists, etc)  in the community who are ready to come along side to make it happen.  We’ll need dollars and influence and, of course, your volunteers hours to continue to do those bicycle and pedestrian counts, outreach events, and submit comments.  Thank you for getting involved, both now and in the future.

Time Line, history of the undeveloped Stoddard rail trail

Looking south.

Looking south.

For the really curious – I spent the evening going back through my emails and reconstructed the journey we’ve been on.

1993  (approx.) –Union Pacific removed the Stoddard spur from active use

2010, October — The Public Utilities Commission holds hearing to begin process of official abandonment.  Bike Walk Nampa collected comments of support from the public.

2011, March – Mayor Dale and City Council members walk the abandoned trail corridor to discuss options and issues as part of the process of developing the Nampa Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan

2011, June – Bike Walk Nampa begins doing bicycle & pedestrian counts on Stoddard and other pathways

2011, Aug. – Nampa Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan approved by City Council.  Stoddard pathway listed as high priority in planned network.

2012, July – Federal funds granted in the amount of $100,000 for FY2014 to build pathway from Iowa to Sherman Elementary School, pending the acquisition of the right of way from Union Pacific.

2012, Oct. – Pathway designed.  Open House for public comments on design held at Sherman Elementary school.

2013, Jan – Additional grants applied for to construct the trail.  Bike Walk Nampa collected more public comments to support applications

2013, Sept – Official abandonment process completed and recognized by the Surface Transportation Board. Union Pacific is free to auction or get appraisal and sell property on open market.

2013, Sept – Mayor and city staff file a request to the Surface Transportation Board expressing interest in acquiring the corridor.  That gives the city 180 days to exclusively negotiate cost of the property.

2013, Sept – Union Pacific asks $700,000 for trail corridor based on their “At the fence” appraisal done by their appraiser.

2013, October – Grant money awarded from Federal funds becomes available for building the Stoddard pathway.

2013, October – Negotiations still pending and city does not have ownership of corridor.  Deadline passes for Federal funds to be spent, so they are lost.

2014, July – Bike Walk Nampa collects public comment to support city acquisition of trail.  Door to door contact with 64 residents and property owners along corridor reveals majority support creating the pathway.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2014, Late July/Aug – In light of stalled negotiations and high asking price, Task Force meets and develops the Historic Union Pacific Stoddard Pathway Concept Plan which includes personal narratives of local retired railroad employees, historical markers along the trail, and interactive pieces for children. Proposal is presented to Union Pacific.

2014, Oct. – Meeting with Union Pacific.  Historic concept presented, U.P. likes proposal but it does not influence them to lower the price.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2014, Nov. – Next step is for city to pay for its own appraisal to make a counter offer.

2014, Aug – May 2015. – Negotiations stall.  Council expresses concern that an appraisal would be wasted funds since it is unlikely to change the price U.P. is asking.  Nampa Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory and City Staff (Karla Nelson, long range planner and Lynda Clark, city grant writer) compile facts and build the case for getting the appraisal.

2015, June 1 – Karla Nelson presents staff report requesting funds for appraisal.  City Council unanimously approves the Parks & Recreation Department allocating part of their budget to fund an appraisal.  This will enable the city to make a counter offer and negotiations to continue.