Ada County Highway District

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

ACHD's winter response plan includes more aggressive plowing; confusion with the new "Stop Here on Red" sign on southbound Edgewood Drive at Idaho 44; communications breakdown at Mallard Drive and Parkcenter Boulevard signal

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Weather reports are discussing plans to prepare the roads for icy/snowy conditions by de-icing and sanding. Is this still the plan for this year?

Road Wizard:

Yes. One way to tell that roads are ready for winter storms is to look for the tell-tale "snow melt solution" lines on streets.

Trucks spray an anti-icing agent called magnesium chloride on bare roads prior to forecasted winter weather to prevent snow and ice from sticking to the pavement. This is done in the highest priority locations, which includes major roads, hills and school crossings. A sand and salt mix is used later on top of snow.

ACHD is also ready to plow at all times, with blades attached to 37 winter maintenance trucks. In years past, plows were mostly used when snow levels reached six inches.

That approach was subject to complaints from citizens who wanted streets cleared. These days, ACHD is more proactive about removing snow as it comes, which also makes the anti-icing spray more effective once a storm is underway.

Dear Road Wizard: I know the traffic pattern has changed because of the accidents at Edgewood Drive and Idaho 44. But the new "Stop Here on Red" change needs to be a little more forceful as many of my fellow drivers don't know what that means. As I waited for my red light to turn green so I could turn west onto Idaho 44 from Edgewood, a long line formed behind me. As I sat there listening to the ever-increasing number of drivers honking for me to go, several vehicles got out of line and went up to the red through-lane light and turned right in front of me, saluting with one finger as they drove past. Is the "Stop Here on Red" sign the best you can do? How about "No Right Turn on Red" or "Wait For Green Arrow To Turn Right"?

Road Wizard:

This intersection previously had a "Yield" sign for right-turning drivers on southbound Edgewood without providing a proper merge lane onto Idaho 44.

The new "Stop Here on Red" sign points to a new white stop line on the pavement which identifies where drivers should initially stop and yield to pedestrians if any are present. A signal now controls the right turn. But the sign does not mean that a driver must stop until there is a green light. The sign for that is "No Turn on Red."  A right turn on red is allowed at this location. No wonder people were honking!
Misinterpretations can indicate that improvements are needed. Sometime in the next year the old-school right-turn "bypass" lane will be rebuilt to today's standards and the signal pole relocated to the shoulder

Dear Road Wizard: Please look at the lights for Mallard Drive and Parkcenter Boulevard on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Fifteen cars waited while no one came out of Mallard.

Road Wizard:

Traffic signals rely on devices that communicate between the vehicle detection cameras and the traffic signal controller.

Sometimes, that communication function breaks down. When this occurs, the computer is programmed to provide all movements at the intersection with the maximum green light time so that no unseen vehicles are missed. This is what happened at Mallard and Parkcenter. The communication failure has been fixed and the signal is now working properly.

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