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Friday, April 08, 2011
Several major Ada County corridors receive new traffic signal timing plans; increasing flow and decreasing wait times

Gas prices may be up, but drivers should save time and fuel with less waiting at red lights on some of Ada County’s busiest corridors. Throughout the week, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) has been implementing a new traffic signal timing plan on Broadway Avenue from Warm Springs Avenue to the eastbound off ramp of Interstate 84. Portions of State Street and ParkCenter Boulevard have also recently received new timing plans and several other corridors in Ada County will be re-timed yet this spring.

The signal re-timing plans will improve traffic flow, reduce stops and are being done in response to changes along the corridors, such as increased traffic volumes and altered commute patterns. “The changes will be noticeable at most intersections, especially the ones that were previously uncoordinated like ParkCenter Boulevard,” said Mike Boydstun, ACHD Traffic Operations Engineer. “It will mean less waiting, and generally, shorter lines of cars for those traveling on the main streets, which should make for a quicker commute.”

Broadway Avenue from Warm Springs Avenue to the eastbound off ramp of Interstate 84

Ten traffic signals along this three mile section of road are being re-timed and three other signals adjacent to Broadway are also a part of the new plan. Increased enrollment at Boise State University, the opening of the University of Idaho’s Water Center at Broadway and Front and overall changes in traffic flow and traffic volumes are behind the new Broadway plan.

Re-timing traffic signals along this corridor began this week and additional fine tuning will occur through the weekend.

Other recent timing changes

With the East and West ParkCenter bridges in place and increased traffic volumes in southeast Boise, ParkCenter between Park and Apple was set on a traffic signal coordination plan for the first time ever. Until recently, all eight signals along this three mile stretch of road have operated independently of one another. Signals at Law Avenue and Bown Road remain independent, operated by a camera that detects vehicles. “We’re seeing better flow in both directions and we didn’t hurt the side streets,” Boydstun said of how the new plan appears to be working.
Seven traffic signals were recently re-timed and coordinated on State Street from Horseshoe Bend Road to Linder Road, with the exception of the signal at Eagle Road, which is coordinated with other Eagle Road traffic signals. Heavy demand and congestion during morning and evening rush hours were behind the new State Street corridor plan.

What drivers can expect

Drivers on the re-timed corridors should notice fewer red lights and shorter wait times during the morning and evening rush hours, and could also see improvements during the daytime hours on some of the corridors. “ACHD strives to re-time major corridors every five years. Because changes like development occur, it is important to re-evaluate whether we’re doing the best we can to keep people moving,” said Boydstun, who helps design and implement the new plans. 

Project funding

ACHD has worked with an engineering consultant who specializes in traffic signal re-timing plans. ACHD will use $245,000 in federal stimulus money to re-time traffic signals along a total of six corridors throughout Ada County this spring. Additional corridors will be re-timed using ACHD funds. The new plans for ParkCenter and State were funded with federal stimulus dollars.

Other federally funded locations include:

  • Cole Road from Victory to the westbound ramp of I-84 and Overland Road from Overland Park to Cloverdale (to be implemented in late April)
  • Orchard Street from Chinden Boulevard to Victory Road (to be implemented in early May)
  • Curtis Road from Chinden Boulevard to Emerald Street (to be implemented in early May)
  • Chinden Boulevard from Orchard Road to Tree Farm Way (to be implemented in early May)

The Broadway corridor and Vista Avenue from Wright Street to Federal Way/Capitol Boulevard are being re-timed through money from ACHD’s general fund. Vista will be retimed in early May.

ACHD operates and maintains approximately 410 traffic signals in Ada County, including those that are a part of the state system. To view traffic camera images, visit www.achdidaho.org and click on “Traffic Cams.”
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