Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, March 20, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

How does ACHD coordinate road construction projects? Signal at the intersection of St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center and the Home Depot on State Street to get a flashing yellow arrow.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: There are a lot of construction projects apace in Boise, both road construction and private development. Perhaps more construction than we've seen in decades. Traffic congestion points are multiplying, and as we all know, road congestion can magnify itself logarithmically when many bottlenecks occur at once. I'm interested in knowing more about how ACHD sequences its road construction projects, and how it coordinates its projects with those occurring simultaneously in the private sector. Can a point of saturation occur when too many projects are happening at once?

Road Wizard:

Saturation is a good word for the current state of downtown building projects, and ACHD is staying out of the way as much as possible. But ACHD was right in the middle of the planning process for recent road-related work downtown.

The "Downtown Boise Implementation Plan" was created in partnership with many agencies in anticipation of a concentration of downtown street work. The five-year plan identified the work and the schedule, so non-ACHD entities could coordinate.

Projects included two-way street conversions, sidewalk improvements, and utility work. Much of what was outlined in the plan is complete, and the thoughtful effort minimized traffic delays.

On the other hand, the timing of the three major projects currently disrupting traffic downtown are outside the scope of the Downtown Boise Implementation Plan.

The Main Street and Fairview Avenue lane closures are the result of a city project to extend the Greenbelt pathway from Main Street to Americana Boulevard. The goal is to complete the new tunnels before the Boise River rises to high levels.

As for the Broadway Bridge, that is finally happening after the Idaho Transportation Department announced plans to build it four years ago.

And the underground Main Street Station construction is happening after surface locations were rejected. The location near The Grove Plaza was part of a plan by Gardner Company.

Would it be practical, or even fair, for ACHD to force any of these projects to take turns to decrease traffic impacts? Instead, ACHD, which is the agency that permits lane closures on Ada County public roadways, works to minimize the disruptions.

For example, a contractor asked for a one-day street closure for work related to one of the building projects. ACHD allowed the closure, but only between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The contractor didn't have the road open on time and was assessed a substantial fee on top of the road closure fee.

Dear Road Wizard: There is a stop light at the intersection of St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center and the Home Depot in Eagle on State Street. Can the light be changed to blink yellow instead of being a normal light? There are times when that light will stay red for about one or two minutes when there isn't any traffic coming westbound on State. It would be nice to let the driver make the decision when to make the left turn and not allow a backup of traffic at that light.

Road Wizard:

Flashing yellow left-turn arrows are being installed on more and more higher-speed roads, and this location is scheduled to get one this spring or summer. However, the arrow won't operate during the evening rush hour. ACHD doesn't want to enable drivers to make risky left turns in short gaps when traffic is heavy.

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