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Friday, April 22, 2011
ACHD programs and practices focus on environmental consciousness year-round

Improving Ada County’s roadway network is at the center of the Ada County Highway District’s (ACHD) purpose, and doing so in an environmentally responsible way is a high priority. Year-round ACHD employs numerous earth-friendly practices and programs--from reducing the number of vehicles on the road to keeping pollutants out of the water and air.

Street sweepings create beneficial cover for landfill

In a given year, ACHD collects 44,000 cubic yards of debris through its street sweeping program. Each week the debris is taken to the Ada County Landfill. A partnership between ACHD and Ada County serves as more than a place to dispose of the road debris-- the material creates a cover for the landfill, helping to keep contaminates out of the soil. Cost savings is another benefit of the ongoing partnership; ACHD disposes of its street sweeping debris for free and it eliminates the county’s need to purchase ground cover.

Reducing traffic congestion and pollution

Last year alone, Commuteride’s vanpool program took more than 13.5 million vehicle miles off of the roads among its 800 riders. The 30 year-old vanpool program helps to reduce congestion and air pollution in the valley by offering residents from as far as Garden Valley, the option of sharing a commute with others who live and work in similar areas. Commuteride’s reach has grown further with a new mini vanpool program which targets rural commuters and those who drive in the opposite direction of the morning and evening rush hours.
ACHD also supports alternative transportation, putting sidewalks and bike lanes in with almost every major road project. The result: More than 100 miles of new bike lanes since the 1990s. Last year alone, 22 miles of new sidewalk were constructed in Ada County.

Conserving energy: Traffic signal LED conversion

With 400-plus traffic signals in Ada County, a conversion to Light Emitting Diodes or LED lights has meant a 60% reduction in power consumption and how much is spent to operate signals-- the cost of operating one signal with LEDs is approximately $180 a year. Every Ada County traffic signal is now outfitted with the energy-saving lights which draw 300 watts compared to the 3,000 watts the standard bulbs used. LEDs also last longer than the older-style bulbs, which reduces waste, requires less maintenance, and are brighter for drivers.

Recycled rock helps local crops

ACHD’s leftover and unusable remnants of sand and rock from its rock crushing operation is put to good use by Boise City at its bio-solids farm—a farm where the city’s treated solid waste fertilizes crops that are grown to feed livestock. ACHD’s leftover rock particles and sand help the farm’s irrigation system function more efficiently. The sand is placed in the irrigation wheel lines in the ground and helps to provide traction and a better surface for the wheels to roll on.
The recycled rock agreement also makes financial sense for ACHD and the city. It eliminates ACHD’s need to pay for the removal of the unusable remnants, saving approximately $10,000 each year and eliminates the city’s need to buy similar material to use in conjunction with its irrigation system, an estimated savings of $15,000 a year.

For more information on these earth-friendly practices and programs, visit www.achdidaho.org .

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