Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, January 29, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Private streets and snow -- will a government agency step in? Fear of delays for employees leaving new Simplot headquarters in Downtown Boise.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: First, I would like to commend the ACHD staff for all their hard work during the recent weather. Given the circumstances, I think they did a great job. I'm presuming private streets (those with the blue street name signs) are exempt from plowing by ACHD. But, are there laws or regulations for how those streets are to be maintained in the winter? My parents live in a senior park. The property owner had someone come in and plow but it was a superficial job. Now the street is a rough, bumpy, icy mess. I'm concerned for the safety of those living in the park and any issues emergency vehicles may encounter.  Does ACHD have regulations on how such roads are to be maintained? Or would that be a city issue?

Road Wizard:

Regulations do exist for private streets, and in Boise, the responsibility for maintenance is generally determined before the road is approved.
The subdivision ordinance says that homeowners associations/property owners should have a "restrictive covenant for maintenance" for private streets. Snow removal and any other road maintenance is to be managed by those private parties.
Cities may track down the HOAs and remind them to remove snow. But for the most part, it's up to residents to resolve maintenance shortcomings.
Ada County Paramedics haven't had much trouble reaching people during the record-breaking snowfall. Ambulances are outfitted with studded snow tires, and well-equipped all-terrain vehicles are also available.
Dear Road Wizard: The J.R. Simplot Company headquarters is about to open in Downtown Boise with hundreds of drivers exiting the parking garage on 11th Street to turn west onto Front Street to get on the Interstate 184 Connector every afternoon. I believe there is no left-turn arrow from 11th onto Front, which is likely going to cause a very long backup of cars waiting to get out of the parking garage. Can something be done to add a left-turn arrow on 11th? Double left-turn lanes might be in order due to the volume of cars expected.

Road Wizard:

Employees working for the company that invented the first commercial French fry might have to "pardon their French" if this feared traffic congestion is fully realized. The Simplot headquarters was built with just two vehicle access/exit points for more than 600 employees, and that design decision may later result in some choice words from delayed drivers.
But maybe not. ACHD is prepared with several options to address any potential problems. While there isn't currently a left-turn arrow on 11th turning onto Front, ACHD could add one. However, that would likely require taking "green" time away from Front drivers. That road carries more than 4,000 vehicles during the peak evening commute hour, and shorter green lights could create delays as far back as Broadway Avenue.
Instead, more left-turn time for 11th could be found by decreasing the length of the through-traffic green light on 11th. But that might mean taking out the crosswalk on the west side of the intersection because there would no longer be enough time for pedestrians to cross.
Adding a second left-turn lane is doable, but comes with its own downsides, such as the loss of a flashing yellow left-turn arrow option. ACHD will decide on the best approach after observing drivers going home once the headquarters is fully staffed.

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