Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, April 28, 2019 ACHD's Road Wizard

Concrete holes in the sidewalks at 15th and State streets in Boise; too bright, but not bright enough "No U-turn" signs at State Street/Veterans Memorial Parkway/36th Street

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: : I would like to know what the deal is with the concrete holes in the sidewalks at 15th and State streets in Boise. I assume they are landscape planters. They are protected by railings, but I'm pretty sure they are not tall enough to prevent someone from falling in and getting seriously injured. Why weren't those planters filled with topsoil up to grade level?


Road Wizard:

Curbs and gutters are the first things that come to mind when considering collecting storm water from the road, not holes in the sidewalks. But these are more than holes. They have some sand and soil at the bottom so water runoff from the streets can collect in the containers and slowly infiltrate into the ground, helping to replenish groundwater supplies. This method leaves most contaminates in the soil rather than sending them to waterways through storm pipes and the Boise City canal system.

ACHD installed this "green" drainage because of the replacement of a Boise City canal structure that runs diagonally under State Street. The State and 15th intersection was also rebuilt. But the canal structure replacement made more conventional storm water drainage options very challenging and expensive.

So the planter approach was used instead. Plants will grow in the boxes, but the soil level will not go any higher to maintain room for water to collect. This is a new approach to drainage for ACHD, and they will take another look at the railings and the fall risk.

Dear Road Wizard: Just a quick note from a color-challenged (not color blind) driver. The "No U-turn" illuminated-things on the traffic signal arms that are suspended over State Street/Veterans Memorial Parkway/36th Street are not good for me, and possibly for many like me. The U-turn graphic appears to be white, and is overwhelmingly bright! The red circle and the slash appear quite dimly, and very much in the background. It does not stand out enough to even appear to be important information. When I look at that display, even in bright daylight, I see a sign telling me I can make a U-turn at that point. The red is so dim and secondary by comparison that I don't see it until I'm quite close and maybe even committed.


Road Wizard:

With State/Veterans/36th being the first "ThrU-turn" in the Treasure Valley, ACHD installed enhanced signage in order to help communicate the "go farther down the road for a U-turn to come back and make a right turn, instead of turning left at the main intersection" message.

The signs also display "no left turn" images. And the LED-illuminated white lights are pretty bright. The signs are designed to automatically dim themselves at night, but even with that function they remain a bit overwhelming after sundown. And unfortunately, the signs are not adjustable beyond that, so there isn't a setting to dim the white lights so the red ones show up better.

Keep in mind, there are plenty of other signs and markings at the intersection to guide drivers. There are "thru-only" arrows on the road along with traditional signs on the mast arms that provide information to drivers on State that there are no direct left turns onto 36th and Veterans. But the "illuminating" feedback is great and will be sent along to the sign vendor. Maybe they can come up with a better sign.

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