Ada County Highway District

Northwest Foothills Transportation Study - Update

General Description:

Commission Delays Adoption of the Northwest Foothills Transportation Study Update

The Ada County Highway District put off a decision on the future expansion of Beacon Light Road until early 2015, based largely on a request from the City of Eagle, which pledged to seek ways to decrease growth in the city and in the foothills.

ACHD Commissioners welcomed the city's request but cautioned that unless thousands of new homes and tens of thousands of new residents disappear from already-approved plans for developments and subdivisions, the road expansion is likely inevitable. The decision pleased the crowd of nearly 200 people that turned out on January 22, 2014 and packed the ACHD auditorium to capacity.

In the interim, Commissioners said ACHD will continue to acquire right-of-way along Beacon Light with each development proposal; conversely, if no new proposals come in, no new land for an expanded road will be purchased. Commissioners urged the crowd to work with Eagle to decrease the amount of planned growth in and around the Eagle Foothills and to work with the Idaho Transportation Department to secure funding to expand State Highways 44 and 16, as well as US. 20/26 (Chinden Boulevard).

The proposal to expand Beacon Light Road in 2035 is part of the larger Northwest Foothills Transportation Plan, which is being updated from the version approved in 2008. A portion of the draft plan calls for a five-lane Beacon Light road from Idaho 55 to Idaho 16, based on traffic expected in the next 20 years.

Today, the road has about 200 vehicle trips in the peak hour. By 2035, that number is expected to jump by 1,500 trips an hour.

Many of the opponents of the road expansion suggested that the state highway system be expanded to serve the future traffic demand, calling for the expansion of SH 44 and Chinden to six lanes and the connection of SH 16 to Interstate 84. The estimated cost for that work is $1 billion - an amount the state says it does not have and is unlikely to get in the near future.


Recommendation for Beacon Light Road included in draft plan

  • Continue to preserve right-of-way for five lanes (96 feet) when a property develops:
    • If properties do not develop or redevelop, additional right-of-way will not be preserved.
    • If right-of-way is ultimately not used for widening, pedestrian, bicycle, or equestrian facilities could be installed in the additional space.
  • Encourage ITD to invest in expansion of the State highway per the stakeholder committee Recommendation. This State highway expansion may defer or eliminate the need for widening Beacon Light Road, but cannot be counted on due to funding constraints.
  • Widen Beacon Light Road only after other prerequisite projects have been completed and additional triggers are met.
  • Identify near-term maintenance projects that could add bicycle and pedestrian facilities within the existing right-of-way along Beacon Light Road.


December 12, 2013 Joint Meeting

Meeting Presentation

Please click on the image below to view the presentation from the joint meeting between ACHD, the City of Eagle and Ada County.



November 14, 2013 Beacon Light Road Stakeholder Committee Meeting #2

Meeting Presentation

Please click on the image below to view the presentation from the meeting.


Results From the Meeting   

At the second stakeholder meeting ACHD Staff presented options for handling the future demand projected for Beacon Light Road. These options included:

  • Provide for future demand on Beacon Light
    • Option A - Preserve for 5-lanes and build when needed ($35 million CIP estimate)
  • Limit Beacon Light expansion to 3-lanes
    • Option B - Limit growth in Eagle to what is entitled and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) build SH-44 to 6-lanes + median ($117 million estimated cost)
    • Option C - Build new road north of Beacon Light, south of the foothills. ($81-$101 million estimated cost)
    • Option D - Full build out of the State System (Central Valley Expressway & 6-lanes on SH-44 and US 20/26) ($1 billion approximate cost)

After considering all information presented, the Committee voted to recommend Option D be forwarded to the ACHD Commission for adoption. The Committee did express some willingness to consider preservation for 5-lanes on Beacon Light between SH 16 and Linder, though members did not feel comfortable officially making that recommendation at that time. The Committee's recommendation will be presented as part of the ACHD staff's presentation during the adoption hearing scheduled for January 22, 2013.

Of note, ACHD is not able to ensure implementation of the build out of the State Highway system as it is outside ACHD's statutory authorities. Inclusion of this language in the Northwest Foothills Transportation Plan Update is non-binding on ITD. Per comments made by the ITD representative during the meeting, the build out of the State Highway system would only be occur as funds were available and the project prioritized high enough against other priorities in the State.

Individual Stakeholder Recommendation Sheets

November 13, 2013 ACHD Commission Staff Report Presentation

Please click on the image below to view the presentation from the update to the ACHD Commission.  


Novebmer 13, 2013 Staff Report   

October 24, 2013 Beacon Light Road Stakeholder Committee Meeting #1

Meeting Presentation

Please click on the image below to view the PowerPoint from the meeting.


Results From Meeting

At the end of the meeting the stakeholder group gave the following direction to staff:

  • Evaluate the feasibility, cost, and impact of an east-west parallel road to the north of Beacon Light Road.
  • Provide design options for a 5-lane Beacon Light Road to illustrate how the facility could retain its rural nature.

What is Next?

At the next stakeholder meeting on November 14, 2013 staff will present their findings on the requested information and the stakeholder committee will provide specific recommendations as to how to address the projected traffic demand on Beacon Light Road.


On July 24, 2013, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) Commission considered action on a draft of the Northwest Foothills Transportation Plan Update. During this meeting, substantial public testimony was given surrounding one of the recommendations in the Update: widening Beacon Light Road to five lanes in the future. In response to these concerns, the ACHD Commission chose not to adopt the Plan at that time and directed its staff to work with elected officials from the City of Eagle, the City of Star, Ada County, and senior representatives from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), and the North Ada County Foothills Association (NACFA) to evaluate options for resolving this issue.

As a result, ACHD staff has set up a stakeholder committee that will work towards a recommendation for how to proceed with the Beacon Light component of the broader plan. Below is a schedule of proposed meetings and the participants on the stakeholder committee.

  • To keep the public informed, all of the materials from these meetings, as well as any changes to meeting dates and times, will be posted to this web site. We also invite you to sign up to have updates on this project sent to your email address (see box to the right).
  • If you would like to submit comments or share your concerns on this subject, please contact a member of the stakeholder committee. Public testimony may also be heard at the hearings indicated below.


October 24, 2013 | Stakeholder Meeting #1

  • 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM 
  • Eagle Sewer District, 44 N Palmetto Ave, Eagle, ID

November 13, 2013 | ACHD Commission Staff Report

  • 11:15 AM (New Time) 
  • ACHD Pre-Commission Room, 3775 Adams St, Garden City, ID

November 14, 2013 | Stakeholder Meeting #2

  • 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
  • Eagle City Hall, 660 E Civic Ln, Eagle ID

November 19 -  December 9, 2013 | City Action/County Commission Hearings

  • Opportunity for Public Testimony
  • Meetings tentative based on Stakeholder recommendation.

December 12, 2013 | Joint ACHD/City/County Meeting

  • 10:30 a.m. | Agenda
  • ACHD Auditorium, 3775 Adams St, Garden City, ID

January 22, 2014 | ACHD Commission Adoption Hearing 

  • 6:00 PM
  • Opportunity for Public Testimony
  • ACHD Auditorium, 3775 Adams St, Garden City, ID

Stakeholder Committee Members

  • John Franden - Commissioner, ACHD
  • Jim Reynolds - Mayor, City of Eagle
  • Mary Defayette - Council President, City of Eagle
  • John Grasser - Councilmember, City of Eagle
  • Nathan Mitchell - Mayor, City of Star
  • Dave Case - Chairman, Ada County
  • Jim Tibbs - Commissioner, Ada County
  • Jim Carpenter - COO, ITD
  • Steve Purvis - Chairman, NACFA
  • Teri Murrison - Resident


DraftPlan considered by Commission on July 24, 2013

Northwest Foothills Transportation Study Update

The Northwest Foothills Transportation Study was adopted in December 2008 with the understanding that if land use projections changed dramatically, amendments to the plan could be required.
As a result, the Ada County Highway District and the City of Eagle began an update of the Study in February 2012. The purpose of the update is to analyze traffic operations and identify improvements needed within the study area. The results will be an addendum to the current study that will focus on the key items that changed as a result of this update. The Study will continue to function as a policy guide and corridor preservation mechanism for improving the transportation system as development occurs and offer strategies for roadway and intersection improvements based on new 2035 demographics.

October 11, 2012 Open House Materials

Click on the image below to review the displays and maps from the open house. This is a large file. Smaller versions of the individual displays and maps can be found under "Related Documents" on the right.







On Monday, December 22, 2008, the ACHD Commission adopted the Northwest Foothills Transportation Study. The final study report has been divided into sections for better online viewing.

In response to the influx of proposals for planned communities and future development in the Northwest Foothills, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) has initiated a study to analyze future impacts to the regional transportation system.

The purpose of this study is to:

  • Analyze potential impacts of development on the existing and future transportation system
  • Predict traffic conditions and identify future transportation needs
  • Identify a future road network
  • Establish policies for improving the transportation system when development occurs

This study will not justify land use plans, endorse development or provide approval for future development.

Study Process

Important steps in the study process include:

  • Reviewing approved and working land use plans (City of Eagle & Ada County)
  • Identifying environmental conditions
  • Gathering public input about future transportation needs
  • Coordinating with land use, transportation and local agencies
  • Conducting detailed traffic analysis
  • Identifying transportation system alternatives and evaluating their impacts
  • Determining a preferred transportation system alternative
  • Receiving approval by regional policy makers to achieve plan acceptance

The Northwest Foothills Transportation Study utilizes land use plans, including the City of Eagle's Comprehensive Plan and Ada County's Comprehensive Plan.

On Thursday, August 14, 2008, the first public open house was held to introduce the study and to seek public input and feedback. To view the materials and displays from the open house, click on "View All," located under "Related Documents" on the upper right hand side of this page.

Based on input gathered from the public and key stakeholders following the first open house, ten transportation system alternatives were created that showed variations in the potential network. Alternative evaluation criteria were identified to measure agency and community goals for the study area. Each alternative was analyzed based on these criterion and was removed or carried forward for further analysis.

Two additional open houses were held for this study, encouraging the public to review the analysis of transportation system alternatives, the recommended number of lanes for roadways in the network, intersection configurations and to provide feedback. To view materials and displays from the October 2, 2008 and November 13, 2008 open houses, click on "View All," located under "Related Documents" on the upper right hand side of this page.


Time Frame

Start Date:
End Date:

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