Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, March 10, 2019 ACHD's Road Wizard

Reader thinks ACHD plows excessively; yellow arrow, green arrow displays at 9th and River streets in downtown Boise; who is responsible for cleaning up crash debris such as those left in the Rosehill/Shoshone area

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I know you guys got a bunch of grief in the past for "not doing your job," but as a fifth-generation Idahoan, I have to ask to stop wasting our money. Recently the afternoon temps were expected to be well above freezing and yet your plows were plowing less than one or two inches of snow in our residential area. Thank you for what you do, and please go back to your more reasonable ways and stop wasting our tax dollars on residential streets.


Road Wizard:

Ten years ago, ACHD's policy was to plow when roads were no longer drivable during ongoing snowfall events. Plowing can block driveways, center turn lanes, and storm drains, so the primary approach was to use anti-icing liquid and a sand/salt mix.

Fifth-generation Idahoans appreciate that the typical pattern in Ada County is for snow and ice to cause trouble during the morning commute, then mostly melt away by the evening commute.

But unusual snow events in recent years have made some people question ACHD's conservative plowing approach, especially when people couldn't drive in residential areas because of significant snow accumulation.

Current policy is that ACHD crews will plow, or not, based on specific conditions at the given time and location because snow amounts and topography can vary. Travelers benefit from this approach because even when there is only an inch of snow accumulation, plowing can still be more effective than just putting anti-icing on top of snow or spreading sand while the snow is still falling.

Dear Road Wizard: At 9th and River streets in downtown Boise, there is a left-turn signal for vehicles on westbound River. However, the signal never seems to activate to green. It turns flashing yellow when River traffic has the green light, then turns red at the end of the cycle. It took five complete light cycles to make a left turn from westbound River onto southbound 9th. Cars were backed up in the left-turn lane back to 8th Street, yet the green left-turn arrow never activated. What's going on?


Road Wizard:

Traffic engineers have determined that this intersection runs most efficiently if the left-turn lane mostly relies on a flashing yellow-arrow signal. That way people can turn left in traffic gaps without stopping eastbound drivers.

In fact, when operating as programmed, a green left-turn arrow only appears during the day, and only for six seconds, if left-turning drivers are still waiting after the flashing yellow-arrow signal time is up. The green arrow doesn’t activate at all during the evening or overnight.

It used to be that this turn never displayed a green arrow because of the delays it created for other drivers. ACHD later added the short green arrow to help decrease delays for turning drivers, but there can still be occasional backups.

Dear Road Wizard: Who is responsible for accident debris cleanup if not done at the time of the accident? The Rosehill/Shoshone area needs attention.


Road Wizard:

Technically, police officers working with tow truck companies are responsible to clear streets after a crash.

But sometimes crashes are not reported, and the mess is left behind. In these cases, dispatchers may contact ACHD and ask that a street sweeper comes to clean up. Thanks to this letter, ACHD sent out a sweeper to Rose Hill and Shoshone.

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