The growth rate for the Pocatello/Chubbuck area is slow, but by the year 2040, about 25,000 new people will be living there, said Mori Byington, Bannock Transportation Planning Organization director.
So plans for the expansion are underway, and a meeting was held Wednesday at the Clarion Inn in Pocatelllo.
Sixty people were divided into eight groups at the workshop, and a common theme among each was transportation.
One of the concerns was where to put people and businesses and still have them connected to main areas like businesses on Yellowstone, the old town area and the university area.
"We look at the transportation and living patterns for the next 20 years and figure out how that's going to develop,” said Byington. “Where should we put the next road, where's the next interchange that needs to be built and where do road improvements need to be made? We look at all kinds of scenarios."
The transportation theme throughout wasn't just about cars and buses. Bikes and pedestrian traffic were a major concern.
For example, many folks spoke about bike lanes along 4th and 5th avenues, and where they end. If you do want to go from the university area into the old town area, you have two options: the Benton St. overpass or the Center St. underpass. But the main problem that many bicyclists face? There are no bike lanes.
Which is why the folks at the workshop stressed the importance connectivity to other areas of town with foot and bike traffic as well.
They also discussed growing the areas of Garrett Way and old town, Byington saying those discussing specifically said businesses on bottom and living space on top in many of the buildings would be a good fit for the warehouse district.
"They said there's a way to make that look better,” Byington said, “a way to get it to more interact with our community. [Old town] is a little hard to get to [from the university]. So how do you integrate this university area and the warehouse district so it becomes one walkable area?"
The BTPO will take all this information and formalize development guidelines next year. That means any homes or businesses built after that time will go along with the ideas in the plan.
Other areas were also discussed for expansion, especially Chubbuck, but also the west bench of Pocatello and the Johnny Creek area.
There will be other planning workshops, so if you are interested in attending or finding more information, you can go to their website, http://mtp2040.org.
For more information about the Bannock Transportation Planning Organization, you can go to their website at http://www.bannockplanning.org.