Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, December 10, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Why downtown Boise lane closures begin before the block where construction work is taking place; pothole puddle on Avenue H at the entrance to Shaw Mountain Apartments repaired; missing crosswalk markings on State Street at 2nd Street reappear

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Why does the highway department think they need to narrow traffic a block or two early for construction on city streets? Especially downtown streets? Why make right-turning traffic merge into an already congested lane before turning right when the construction is on the next block down the street? It would be simple to only block traffic at the block construction is actually happening at.

Dean

Road Wizard:

If only it was that easy when lanes are closed for building construction in bustling downtown Boise.

Let's imagine a lane closure that was only on the block where the work was taking place, with the closed lane on the far-right side of the street. Drivers could use all of the lanes approaching the block. The only change would be that the through/right-turn lane would be temporarily designated as a right-turn-only lane. The lane would be closed beyond the signal.

This would be similar to "dropping" a lane. That is done in non-construction locations where a right-most lane doesn't continue after an intersection and drivers can only turn right. The situation can be confusing, even when right-turn-only signs are posted, the right-turn-only has existed for years, and there isn't construction underway. Dropped lanes can lead to last-minute merging delays and crashes.

There should be a buffer of distance between potential crashes and the area where people are working. An advanced, gradual lane closure provides for that, as well as sufficient time for drivers to more gracefully merge into other lanes rather than committing dropped-lane don'ts. An advanced lane closure also provides space for traffic devices and sign placement to give people plenty of notice.

Forcing right-turning drivers to merge to the left to avoid the closed lane only to turn right at the signal is an unfortunate side effect. But important issues like pedestrian safety and bicyclist access also must be considered when deciding how far from the job site a closure needs to begin.

Dear Road Wizard: There's been a puddle and pothole all summer on the east side of Avenue H just south of Reserve Street at the entrance to Shaw Mountain Apartments. I'm pretty sure some of this is located on ACHD right-of-way. What's going on there? Can it be fixed?

Anonymous

Road Wizard:

The pothole was likely caused by pooling water from sprinkler systems that eroded the asphalt. It was located mostly in the driveway for the apartments, but it had crept into ACHD territory. ACHD made the repair, but generally potholes entirely on private property are the responsibility of the property owner.

ACHD has four street-patching crews, with one assigned to full-time pothole patrol. The pothole on Avenue H didn't register on those rounds, which is why it's appreciated when people report the problems.

Dear Road Wizard: I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the missing paint on the State Street pedestrian crossing at 2nd Street. I was out of town for Thanksgiving and just walked that crossing. I noticed that the crossing has been painted. Thanks for the prompt action!

Larry

Road Wizard:

For readers who missed the original question, the crosswalk was covered up by a chip seal and was accidentally skipped when crews first came around to treat the streets with fresh paint. Thank you Larry for reporting the missing markings.

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