Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, September 25, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

Turning a motor vehicle lane into a bike lane on the Capitol Boulevard Bridge isn’t the reason for lunchtime traffic delays; Rolling Hills Charter School has concerns about the safety of students walking to and from school

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Did ACHD's cost-benefit analysis that led to eliminating a lane of traffic on the Capitol Boulevard bridge account for the 30 minute delays at lunchtime that have developed from Vista Avenue to downtown? If not, when will ACHD be correcting its mistake?

Road Wizard:

Capitol Boulevard now has a bike lane from the Boise State University campus at Royal Boulevard to Downtown Boise. The lane is separated from traffic by a painted buffer. The bike lane required road space, and one of the four traffic lanes on the Capitol bridge over the Boise River was sacrificed. The lane loss isn't as devastating as it sounds for motorists. It only required that the original transition from three travel lanes to four lanes on Capitol was moved from just before the bridge to just beyond the bridge. That makes a small difference in motor vehicle capacity. But the current lunchtime delays are mostly the result of frequent midday lane closures on Capitol due to the construction of the two hotels at Myrtle Street and Capitol.

Dear Road Wizard: I'm the school administrator of Rolling Hills Public Charter School.  I have been working with ACHD and anyone else who will listen to have Horseshoe Bend Road, in front of the school, designated as a school zone. I have indicated that there is a safety issue for my students coming and going from school each day. We need to reduce the current speed, during school hours, from 40 mph to 20 mph. In addition, the intersection of Horseshoe Bend and Hill Road is unsafe and currently not marked for crossing. When school lets out I have eight to 10 students that have to cross that intersection. Drivers ignore the flags being held by the adults. A child is going to get hurt.

Road Wizard:

ACHD tells me that before Rolling Hills Public Charter School was built, the school hired an engineer to determine the need for pedestrian improvements. Schools are required to submit a traffic study before construction begins, and are generally required to fund any necessary improvements. Enhancements might include a reduced school zone speed limit or the installation of an enhanced crosswalk.But the Rolling Hills report stated that those types of changes weren't needed because virtually all of the students would be traveling by car. A crossing guard, as well as a reduced school speed limit on Horseshoe Bend was considered unnecessary.That made sense since charter schools don't typically serve the immediate neighborhoods. Instead, students usually come from a much larger area. It sounds like Rolling Hills may be having second thoughts about that initial report. Other schools have gone through the same thing.Last year ACHD counted pedestrians in front of the school in response to a request for a crosswalk and a 20 mph school zone. ACHD saw zero students crossing Horseshoe Bend in front of the school in the morning, and observed just one student crossing in the afternoon. ACHD will return to determine if enough students are walking this year to justify pedestrian safety improvements.As for the intersection of Horseshoe Bend and Hill Road, chip sealing covered up the existing crosswalks. Those will be re-applied. I'm sorry that drivers are ignoring the hand-held crossing flags. ACHD provided flag holders and signs to improve safety. ACHD will find out if the signs should be more prominently posted.

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