Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, May 19, 2019 ACHD's Road Wizard

Strange devices at intersections like 27th and Main streets in Boise; reader disappointed about response to eastbound Chinden Boulevard left-turn flashing yellow signal at 36th/Orchard streets; westbound, not eastbound McMillan Road between Five Mile and Cloverdale roads gets manhole help

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: We have been watching with great interest as work crews have been installing strange devices at intersections around town, including at 27th and Main streets in Boise. Can you tell us what they are and what they are for?


Road Wizard:

Cell phone towers are a common sight, but now the public is starting to see cell phone "small cells." They are popping up on traffic signal and street light poles. They themselves look like small square street lights and are being installed in many locations.

Verizon and other cellphone companies have been coming to agencies like ACHD to seek permission to place the transmitters on public structures. ACHD has reviewed and approved about 90 locations for the installations, but not all of the locations have the small cells installed.

The cells expand existing 4G networks and will bring 5G to a limited area, which is supposed to improve service and the downloading of data for customers.

But using public property for these installations isn't free. For example, ACHD charges a $500 application fee for each cell, and there are annual license fees beyond that.

Dear Road Wizard: I have lived on 36th Street for 12 years. Your May 12 answer on the eastbound Chinden Boulevard left-turn flashing yellow signal at 36th/Orchard streets disappointed me. It appears to be written from the standpoint of a commuter who only sees Chinden at its worst traffic condition. There are times that there is no one else on the road and many other times when there are only a half-dozen cars visible in all directions. The controller is smart enough to determine when traffic is light, and thankfully it is programmed to operate differently during off-peak hours. Anyone who understands the concept of natural selection would argue that it is a bad idea to have the flashing yellow left-turn arrow onto 36th at all times. Those three westbound lanes would be killers in some traffic conditions. Please consider use of a flashing yellow during the off-peak times.

The Night Shift

Road Wizard:

Heavy traffic during peak travel periods plus three lanes to cross when making a left turn at 36th was enough of a reason for ACHD to move on to other locations that could better benefit from flashing yellow arrow signals. But they may come back someday.

For now, there is another route that gets drivers to the same place that may provide less delay. On eastbound Chinden, turn left at 37th Street, where there is no signal, then turn right on Clay Street to get to 36th. Those heading for areas east of 36th could similarly use the 35th Street intersection. This avoids waiting for a green-arrow signal at 36th when there are not many drivers on the road.

Dear Road Wizard: Recently several manholes on westbound McMillan Road between Five Mile and Cloverdale roads had cement bases placed around them, and the covers were raised to road height. Now, how about eastbound, especially the tooth-rattling manhole on McMillan at Five Mile?


Road Wizard:

The eastbound manholes were not part of ACHD's big contract for "raising" 78 manholes around the county. But they may be included in the next contract.

The particularly bad manhole belongs to CenturyLink, so ACHD is working with the company to get them to fix it, which is expected to happen in about a month.

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