Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, September 18, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

Chip sealing on State Street in downtown Boise on a low-traffic Sunday disturbs church traffic; why some alleys are left unpaved and paved ones get no chip seal; speed bump requirements on Bryson Street and elsewhere

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: On a Sunday in August I arrived at First Presbyterian Church on State Street in Downtown Boise between 9th and 10th streets, at about 10:15 a.m. I could not drive across State onto 10th, or walk across State from the parking lot I usually use without getting fresh asphalt on my shoes. When I left the church at about noon, I could drive down 9th and cross State. Given that there are so many churches in this area, why did ACHD choose to apply the seal and close the north side of State to traffic, just at the point at which people would be headed for those churches? Waiting a couple of hours would have made a whole lot of sense.

Road Wizard:

Sounds like there needed to be a better separation of church and State Street. Or at least the State Street chip sealing work.

ACHD crews were applying a thin, black "fog" seal onto tiny rocks that had been previously applied to the road surface. The work was done on a Sunday because traffic is light. Plus, a fog-sealed road can re-open in just 10 minutes. But it was bad timing to do it when people were gathering for morning church services.

ACHD has made a note to schedule differently in the future. Chip sealing isn't scheduled again on this section of State for six years, which is more than 300 Sundays from now.

Dear Road Wizard: West Downtown Boise has paved alleys. Why isn't ACHD chip sealing them while they are doing the streets? How much is spent each year grading unpaved alleys?

Road Wizard:

Light traffic is one reason paved alleys are not chip sealed. A bigger reason, literally, is that chip sealing equipment is too wide to make it through the narrow spaces.

As for unpaved alleys, the cost of maintaining a smooth surface is wrapped up in the overall budget for grading throughout Ada County, much of which is devoted to shoulder work. ACHD is spending about $136,000 on grading in the 2016 budget, with most work happening in the fall and spring.

A mini grader that can squeeze into smaller spaces is used to maintain unpaved alleys that have potholes or other problems. Paved alleys may be preferred by some, but keeping alleys unpaved benefits the environment. Asphalt creates its own pollutants which can hitch a ride with water runoff that ends up in the Boise River. Dirt roads retain rain water and filter pollutants.

Dear Road Wizard: How does a resident go about requesting speed bumps? The location is Bryson Street off of Fairview Avenue in Boise. What are the requirements?

Road Wizard:

A very nice man named John Wasson at ACHD handles speed bump requests, and Bryson Street is already familiar territory.

Bryson was evaluated for speed bumps seven years ago. Not enough people were traveling at speeds high enough to justify speed bumps, and the number of drivers using the road was minimal.

But that was then, and ACHD will do another evaluation of Bryson. Even if speed bumps are now warranted, homeowners would have to pay for the initial installation. ACHD will only cover that cost if there is cut-through traffic, and that is not an issue on Bryson. Plus, 75 percent of affected homeowners have to sign a petition approving the change, and the charge.

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