Road Wizard
The Wizard Replies

Sunday, January 15, 2017
ACHD plows reach neighborhoods and review underway for possible quicker responses; snow-covered lane lines likely messed with signal at Edgewood Lane and Idaho 44; debate over use of asphalt or concrete at heavy traffic locations
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Dear Road Wizard: We have not had our street plowed or graded since the snow started.  I realize I’m on a cul-de-sac, but we can’t get out of our driveways without getting stuck. We have people on the street who have medical conditions that might need ambulance services. Vicki

ACHD has plowed most neighborhoods now that the high-priority areas have been addressed, but it took a couple of days for crews to begin addressing low-traffic residential areas. In the event of an emergency, responders continue to have direct contact with ACHD supervisors who can send a plow driver over to clear the way if needed.

In light of the record-breaking, ongoing snow event, ACHD leadership is looking at the cost of plowing residential roads much faster in the future.

But the desire for clear streets has to be balanced with the negative consequences of plowing, such as the blocking of storm drains. That can create icy conditions after snow melts and re-freezes. Slippery walkways were one reason why schools were closed this week.

Dear Road Wizard: This is the third time I have waited in the westbound turning lane on northbound Edgewood Lane in Eagle to turn onto Idaho 44 when the traffic light does not provide a left-turn signal. After two rotations and not getting a green, I ran the red when it appeared the same thing was going to happen again. Can I be cited if I proceed with cau-tion because the traffic light appears to be out? I love your column and all you resolve or answer for us in the Treasure Valley! Jana

Thank you. This type of signal problem can occur when traffic lanes are snow covered. Drivers may not be waiting where traffic detectors are looking for vehicles because they can’t see the lane lines. Once the snow is gone, people can position themselves properly. The signal at Edgewood and Idaho 44 is back to correctly identifying waiting drivers.

Generally, if a person remains at an unchanging red light for a reasonable amount of time, they can legally proceed when safe and after yielding to conflicting traffic and pedestrians.

Dear Road Wizard: In a recent column "Anonymous" mentioned the tar wall at the westbound Franklin Road left turn onto the eastbound Interstate 184 Connector on-ramp just south of the Boise Towne Square mall. The reply was that a proper fix would have to wait until warmer temperatures. It seems that any asphalt-based repair is just going to end up doing the same thing in short order. Some high-traffic intersections are being done in concrete, but others aren’t. What is the logic? This particular intersection would call for concrete, I would think. Todd

Repeated braking and turning at low speeds by large trucks can create bumps in asphalt road surfaces (I wouldn’t describe them as walls). Concrete intersections are more durable in the long term, but they tend to be more complicated to construct and generally more expensive up front. Even so, ACHD does favor concrete in many locations.

However, ACHD and the Idaho Transportation Department do not always agree on materials. The Chinden Road (US 20/26) and Linder Road intersection is a great example. ITD stuck with asphalt for the Chinden approaches, while ACHD used concrete for Linder. The Connector on-ramp is one of those “shared jurisdiction” locations.