Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, January 03, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

Motorists entering Downtown Boise intersections already full; no full signal for Shamrock Avenue, despite challenging lefts; "sand window" planned for Diamond and Banner streets in Boise

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Since the new Downtown Boise lane configuration, I have routinely seen motorists enter an intersection with no room for them to clear. Cross traffic (now with a green light) has nowhere to go. In the last month, I've had to sit through no less than 10 green lights while cross traffic remains idle in the intersection. For me, this mostly occurs on Main Street at either 11th or 9th streets, or Capitol Boulevard. It has also happened at Main and Broadway Avenue. I suggest striping the intersection so people know not to proceed into an intersection they cannot clear.

Road Wizard:

My take is that some fed up drivers, finally at a green light, lose patience and enter the intersection. These drivers do this even though Idaho Code states that it is unlawful to enter an intersection if there is no place for a vehicle to go. People risk getting a citation from the police.

Ross, I know ACHD told you that "Don't Block Intersection" signage and street paint will not be installed. That is rarely done in intersections; it detracts from more important road messages, such as lane-use arrows.

ACHD is looking for ways to decrease traffic congestion downtown, some of which is the result of changing one-way roads to two-way traffic. But lane restrictions on Main Street over the Boise River due to Greenbelt tunnel construction get a lot of the blame for the congestion. That makes it challenging to pinpoint immediate solutions.

Plus, we have the full closure of the Broadway Bridge this week, which is expected to make matters worse.

Dear Road Wizard: The widening of Ustick Road was great progress for the area. However, it is now very hard to turn left onto Ustick from Shamrock Avenue during busy traffic times. Drivers wait a long time to turn left and then race across traffic, trying to reach the center lane on Ustick. There is now a pedestrian signal at Shamrock that could be combined into a full traffic signal.

Road Wizard:

A full signal at Shamrock was considered early in the Ustick widening planning process. It was determined that a signal would only make sense if the short Shamrock section north of Ustick was connected to the rest of Shamrock north of Ustick. (It is an odd arrangement.) Making the connection was met with significant negative feedback from residents.

Years later, the point still stands. As it is now, a full traffic signal at Shamrock would only serve about a dozen homes.

Dear Road Wizard: Half of the road at Diamond and Banner streets was flooded recently. We have not complained before, but then there wasn't as much traffic. My daughter slid on the ice, which pulled the car into the water and mud. Anyone can see that this needs to be fixed with a good drain.

Road Wizard:

This is an older part of Boise without any storm drains. Thanks to this letter, ACHD realized that a "sand window" should be installed. (Another new road-related term for those keeping count.)

A sand window is a drain created by excavating an area near the road. The void is filled with sand or other material to help drain the water.

The hole cannot be dug until the ground thaws, but it should reduce flooding. As they say, when one car door closes, a sand window opens.

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