Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, March 13, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

Reader wonders if construction lane closures in Downtown Boise pave way for future swap for bike lanes; concerns about poor view of vehicles approaching on 36th Street when turning from Anderson Street

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: With the crushing amount of traffic restrictions in the downtown area (as of this email, I counted 24 long-term projects affecting downtown), is it the intention of ACHD and the City of Boise to go ahead and permanently remove these travel lanes for dedicated bike lanes since vehicle traffic has already been dealing with months of these lost lanes?

Road Wizard:

Boise leaders have asked ACHD for bike lanes on one-way Main and Idaho streets, and options include removing a vehicle lane on each road.

While the current construction-related lane restrictions downtown give motorists a taste of less-lanes life, the restrictions do not correlate with what would happen if lanes were permanently removed for bicyclists.

ACHD's test in 2014 is the best point of reference. Travel lanes were temporarily removed on Capitol Boulevard, Main and Idaho, and bike lanes were installed. The resulting traffic delays didn't come close to what people are currently experiencing. But removing a lane on Main and Idaho is expected to increase the east/west travel time across downtown for motorists by about a minute during rush hours.

ACHD has no intention to quietly remove lanes while drivers are distracted by construction cranes; public input will be carefully considered. The agency has an online survey posted on its website, and there will be a public involvement meeting where residents can learn more and speak up. That is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, from 5 - 7 p.m. at Boise City Hall.

Dear Road Wizard: The intersection of 36th Street and Anderson Street (the very short street in front of Taft Elementary School) is a hazard. When at Anderson waiting to turn right or left onto 36th, the very large business sign obstructs the view of oncoming traffic from the north. Making it even more difficult is that this section of 36th has a significant curve. The intersection becomes a totally blind intersection when the business parking lot is occupied during the week. I do recall there was a pedestrian fatality at this intersection several years ago. It is amazing that there are not more accidents or fatalities with the number of drivers picking up and dropping off school children.

Road Wizard:

The adult pedestrian who was killed was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and the driver of the vehicle was not at fault. The view of oncoming traffic was not a factor.

Other than that, there have been just three minor vehicle collisions in the last six years, despite the fact that the view of oncoming traffic from Anderson does not meet minimal sight distance requirements. The intersection was laid out about 25 years ago when those requirements were less strict.

ACHD is looking at possible improvements. Options include moving the business sign, removing trees, and restricting parking. But that may be excessive since turning limitations meant to reduce the odds of collisions are already planned.

Anderson is scheduled to become "right in/right out only" with a U-turn option as part of an intersection rebuild at nearby 36th and State Street in 2018. Turning right is safer because a driver is not distracted by vehicles in multiple lanes, and can creep forward into the intersection, which improves sight distance. Thanks to Gail, ACHD may install temporary devices that eliminate the more risky left turns sooner than what was originally planned.

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