Communication and Public Awareness

Frequently Asked Questions


The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) is the forum for regional collaboration in southwest Idaho that helps maintain a healthy and economically vibrant region, offering people choices in how and where they live, work, play, and travel.

COMPASS serves the region through four primary roles: planner, facilitator, expert, and implementer. In these roles, COMPASS develops multifaceted transportation and other plans for the region, brings stakeholders together, serves as a regional source of data and technical expertise, and secures resources to meet regional needs.

COMPASS also serves as the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for Ada and Canyon Counties, and as such, develops the regional long-range transportation plan (Communities in Motion) and the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the two-county area.

You can learn more about COMPASS at

COMPASS is a voluntary, member-based organization governed by a Board of Directors who represent COMPASS member agencies — primarily of local units of government. COMPASS serves as a forum for local members to collectively make decisions addressing regional transportation, planning, growth, and other issues. The COMPASS Board is comprised mainly of local elected officials, such as mayors, city councilmembers, and county and highway district commissioners. Each member agency has a voice in the decision-making process.

For general information, call 208/855-2558 or email

A list of staff, along with individual contact information, is available on the COMPASS staff web page.

Yes, the COMPASS Unified Planning Work Program and Budget, as well as annual financial statements, are available on the Budget and Financial Reports page.

COMPASS is funded through a combination of local membership dues, federal transportation grants, revenue from special projects for managing contracts, and other revenues, such as map sales. Membership dues typically account for approximately 20% of the overall COMPASS budget.

Visit the Jobs and Contracts page to view current job openings.

Requests for proposals, statements of qualifications, and bids are posted to the Jobs and Contracts page.

COMPASS solicits feedback on specific plans and projects at various times during planning processes. During these times, public comment opportunities are highlighted on the COMPASS home page under “Hot Topics,” and on the What’s New and Comments and Questions pages, with links to more information.

COMPASS also welcomes your comments and questions at any time. Send comments and questions to or 208/475-2229.

All public events, including educational events, are posted on the Public Events page.

Specific information about the annual COMPASS education series (presentations by regional and national experts on locally important topics) is linked from the Public Events page by year (e.g., 2017 Education Series).

Near-term events are also featured on the COMPASS home page under “Hot Topics.”

Yes! COMPASS staff are available to speak to your group or club on a variety of topics, including:

  • Regional demographics and forecasted growth
  • Long-term transportation plans and planning
  • Transportation funding
  • More!

Email or call 208/475-2229 to request a speaker. COMPASS will endeavor to accommodate your request, but do note that speaking engagements are subject to staff availability.

Data, Mapping/GIS, and Reports

COMPASS develops and compiles a wide variety of regional data, accessible through the links below:

Many maps are available online on the Mapping and GIS page and can be downloaded for free. Standard printed maps are $15 per map sheet. Custom maps and analyses can be ordered for $73/hour, plus $15/map sheet. Contact the GIS department at 208/475-2246 or 475-2245 to order standard or custom maps.

COMPASS coordinates orthophotography for Ada and Canyon Counties. Costs for orthophotography and related data vary; more information can be found on the Mapping and GIS page or by calling 208/475-2245.

COMPASS reports from 2008 on are available on the Reports page. If you need a hard copy of any of these reports, or an older report, contact or 208/475-2229.



A long-range transportation plan identifies and plans for regional transportation improvements needed over the next 20+ years, based on forecasted growth. The regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon Counties is called Communities in Motion.

Communities in Motion is the regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon Counties. The approved Communities in Motion 2040 plan looks not only at transportation, but also at elements that affect, or are affected by, transportation: community infrastructure, economic development, farmland preservation, health, housing, land use, and open space.

Communities in Motion 2040 focuses federal transportation funding on maintaining the existing transportation system and identifies 32 unfunded priority projects and corridors. Learn more about how Communities in Motion is being implemented below.

Communities in Motion 2040 is being updated. The plan update – Communities in Motion 2040 2.0 – is scheduled for completion in 2018. The update will keep many of the same tenants of Communities in Motion 2040, with an increased focus on how individual transportation components (bicycle and pedestrian, freight, public transportation, and roadways) work together.

The population in the Treasure Valley is estimated to increase over 50% by 2040, from approximately 670,000 in 2012 to 1.022 million. You can learn more about growth on the Demographic Forecasts page.

COMPASS offers several ways for you to learn about, and be involved in, planning issues and the planning process.

  • The COMPASS education series (click on year) brings national and regional experts to the area to discuss transportation and planning issues.
  • The COMPASS online calendar includes Board and committee meetings, education events and open houses, public comment periods, and more.
  • The COMPASS Integrated Communication Plan and related Title VI, Limited English Proficiency, and Environmental Justice plans outline COMPASS’ commitment to reaching out to all residents of Ada and Canyon Counties.

COMPASS plans for the entire surface transportation system within Ada and Canyon Counties, focusing on four transportation components, with an emphasis on how they integrate to form a complete, and cohesive, transportation system:

Yes. This is likely the most common question we get – hence a longer answer than most.
A train, or similar “high capacity” public transportation service that connects Caldwell to Boise, and communities in between, has been identified as a future need for the valley. Several studies have been conducted as initial steps toward this type of service.

The Treasure Valley High Capacity Transit Study, begun in 2007, focused on connections between three related planning projects: a downtown Boise multimodal center (opened in 2016 as Main Street Station; operated by Valley Regional Transit), a downtown Boise circulator (under study by the City of Boise), and a regional, east-west high-capacity corridor south of the Boise River.

Potential corridors connecting Caldwell and Boise and potential modes (types of vehicles) were considered in the Treasure Valley High Capacity Transit Study Priority Corridor Phase 1 Alternatives Analysis (2009) to narrow down options before moving forward for a more in-depth study.
Communities in Motion 2040prioritized a Treasure Valley public transportation corridor study to further identify corridor and mode options. This (currently unfunded) study would examine the “preferred alternative,” or the mode of transportation and corridor that should be preserved for future improvements south of the river.

While planning for a light rail or similar service is focused on corridors south of the Boise River, planning is also underway for high capacity public transportation north of the river, along State Highway 44/State Street. Long-term recommendations for this corridor include widening the street to add one lane in each direction primarily for carpools and buses, and eventually for a high capacity public transportation service, such as a bus rapid transit. Bus rapid transit is high-capacity public transportation system that functions much like a train, but is operated with buses. Adding high capacity public transportation service along State Street has been identified as a portion of the #2 unfunded priority in Communities in Motion 2040. Ten agencies have entered into a memorandum of understanding to coordinate planning and implementation of projects along the State Street corridor.

Funding is a significant obstacle. Funding is not available at this time to complete the project development or environmental analysis to satisfy the Federal Transit Administration requirements for a “fixed guideway” project, such as commuter rail or light rail. Even more significantly, Idaho does not have a dedicated funding source for public transportation, which is needed to operate a light rail, or similar, system. Without dedicated funding, work on any type of light rail service will remain in the planning stages.

Even once funding is secured, the process to plan for, build, and begin operations of such as system is long and time consuming. Within funding constraints, COMPASS will continue to plan for future “high capacity” public transportation to be ready when that time comes.


A list of tasks needed to implement Communities in Motion 2040 can be found online.

Specific implementation projects led by COMPASS are discussed on the Communities in Motion Implementation page.

COMPASS sets regional goals relating to transportation, economic development, land use, and more through the regional long-range transportation plan, Communities in Motion. Specific targets are set to meet these goals; COMPASS reports on progress toward meeting these targets in several ways:

  • Performance Dashboard (interactive tool to access data, see trends, and compare goals and targets) (NOTE: A new and improved dashboard will be launched in 2018)

COMPASS reviews proposed developments and provides feedback, in the form of a checklist, to local officials regarding how those developments align with regional Communities in Motion goals and projected growth. All completed development review checklists can be found on the Development Checklist page.


Transportation funding is a complex topic, but for the most part, transportation is funded through a “user pay” system – fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, and other mechanisms, as opposed to coming from general tax dollars. Learn more.

COMPASS “programs” (budgets) federal transportation dollars for Ada and Canyon Counties through its five-year Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Projects in the TIP must be consistent with the regional long-range transportation plan, Communities in Motion.

In addition, COMPASS assists in funding local and regional projects that are consistent with Communities in Motion through its Resource Development Program, which includes the Project Development Program (assistance in preparing projects to apply for funding), assistance with grant applications, Communities in Motion Implementation Grants, and more.

The COMPASS Resource Development Program helps COMPASS member agencies and other eligible partners secure and manage funding to implement regional and local goals consistent with Communities in Motion. The program includes:

Visit the Resource Development and Funding page to access instructions and application materials to apply for federal transportation funding, Communities in Motion Implementation Grants, and Project Development assistance.

Different types of funding have different eligibility requirements; contact COMPASS at 208/855-2558 or email for assistance in determining your agency’s eligibility for different types of funding, or to request assistance in applying for competitive grants (grant-writing assistance is available to COMPASS members only).

Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy. Without a well-functioning transportation system, residents can’t get to their jobs, farmers and factories can’t get their goods to the market, and stores can’t stock their shelves. Our transportation system impacts our quality of life, from how much time we spend sitting in traffic, to the choices we have in how we get around, to the safety of those choices.

The big deal is that we don’t have enough money to maintain the system we have now, much less to “grow” the system for the future. COMPASS estimates that the region will need an investment of approximately $359 million per year between now and 2040 to meet maintenance needs and the demands of growth. Funding estimates tell us that we are $150 million per year short of meeting transportation needs in Ada and Canyon Counties. Learn more.

The TIP is a short-range (five-year) budget of transportation projects. The TIP lists all projects for which federal funds are anticipated, along with non-federally funded projects that are regionally significant. The TIP represents the transportation improvement priorities of the region, as approved by the COMPASS Board of Directors, and is required by federal law. Learn more about the TIP. Find the current TIP.