Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, March 1, 2020 ACHD's Road Wizard

Old Town Road, Extra Roomy Lanes

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I have lived in Boise for 40+ years and I can remember what it was like before all of these people moved here and all of these roads and shopping centers came about, but what I can't remember is what is the oldest road in town?


Road Wizard:

Oh, dear reader, that is a question that required a lot of deep digging, and even now my crystal ball is still a little fuzzy.

A lot of this depends on your definition of "road". For starters, the Oregon Trail passed through southeast Idaho starting in the 1840s. There wasn't much here at the time, as the "old" Fort Boise was established as an outpost a few years ago near what is now Parma in Canyon County. The "new" Fort Boise, the area near the VA Medical Center north of Fort Street, was established in the 1860s, and served as a resupply between Idaho City mines and those further south in Silver City. The old Idaho City Toll Road came into use about that time, which is now Shaw Mountain Road (the Race to Robie Creek route).

Many other footpaths that originated as part of Native American trade routes or from the fur trade in the early 1800s may also lay claim to some of the earliest travel routes in Ada County, though "official" records in map form are tougher to come by in the 21st century.

There's also the USGS map from 1892 that shows the original Boise townsite and a few geologic features we know and love, such as Table Rock. You can see some of the historic alignments along roads like Warm Springs Avenue, Hill Road, and Boise Avenue, as well as others that head off into what was then the hinterlands.

And don't be too hard on yourself for not remembering these things--the 1800's was some time ago.

Dear Road Wizard: Is it just me or when Idaho Street was repainted, between Capital Boulevard and 9TH Street, the right lane (next to the parking) got narrower and the left lane got extra roomy?


Road Wizard:

Before the most recent pavement overlay, there was an "extra" stripe next to the on-street parking. This used to delineate the area where buses used to park before they moved to the underground Main Street Station. Without buses, ACHD reallocated lane widths a bit to give a little more room to the leftmost lane, which was pretty narrow. I'm not sure how one defines "extra roomy", but the left lane is now a couple of feet wider than it used to be, which helps better align westbound through traffic across the 9th Street intersection.

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