Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Increasing Community Connectivity in Bonners Ferry’s South Hill Neighborhood

Bonners Ferry, Idaho  |  Winter 2014
Lead Consultant: Alta Planning + Design and Charlier Associates, Inc.
Partner: Boundary Economic Development Council

Project Details

The Challenge

Key Activities



The small, tight-knit community of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, sits just 30 miles below the Canadian border. A picturesque mountain town featuring three mountain ranges and the Kootenai River, the community sees a lot of traffic with its proximity to Canada. Cars are brought to Bonners Ferry via US Highway 95, a highway that bisects the community and gave a poor representation to passersby of the vibrant community that resided on either side of it. 

In 2014, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) had plans for a $3 million renovation to Highway US 95, the highway that bisects Bonners Ferry. ITD’s preliminary street designs outlined a general resurfacing project—repaving the road and adding a sidewalk on one side of the street. While this project offered a band-aid solution to the safety and connectivity issues the community already faced, the community saw an opportunity to revitalize the highway corridor and transform it into a safe, walkable, vibrant place. They just needed help in executing the vision. 

Bonners Ferry requested our help to facilitate a conversation between the community and ITD to develop a solution that would benefit both entities. During the project, we brought together stakeholders across the community to identify the challenges and opportunities that existed both within the project and beyond. Local businesses, the school district, city council, community members, and ITD came together to have conversations about the future of Bonners Ferry and develop some strategies that would help achieve safety and connectivity goals.

From those conversations, a revised project emerged with new design alternatives for ITD’s already planned project. ITD provided an additional $8 million to execute the improved streetscape design, and today, the highway features sidewalks and planter strips on both sides of the street, wider sidewalks, narrowed traffic lanes, and improved intersections. With this $11 million project under their belts, Bonners Ferry had the momentum to pursue more grants, landing a $250,000 Community Transformation Grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho and a $15,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors to implement further planning and develop more robust projects to improve the overall livability of the community.

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