Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, April 9, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Capitol and Royal boulevards signal timing creates consternation; U-turn proposal could create more confusion and break law; will the Stops stay at Lake Hazel and Cole roads?

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I understand the need for a light at the Royal Boulevard and Capitol Boulevard intersection, particularly to accommodate students walking or biking to Boise State University from the new off-campus apartments. But I have noticed that a single car on Royal will trigger a red light for multiple cars on Capitol. These 20 or so cars are idling for a minute or two while the one Royal car hasn't had to idle for even a minute before its light turns green. It seems that traffic flow on Capitol is being altered detrimentally to accommodate Royal traffic.


Road Wizard:

Another reason why Royal was extended across 9th Street to Capitol was to decrease traffic at the busy University/Ann Morrison Park Drive/9th/Capitol/Boise Avenue intersection. The University intersection functions best by operating independently from the more basic Capitol and Royal (and Capitol and 9th) intersection.

That's the reason drivers using Capitol as the primary route northbound to Downtown Boise may be randomly stopped at Royal's not because of a random Royal driver. Someone on Royal who appears to get special treatment was probably already waiting for a green light at 9th; it makes sense for the closely-spaced Royal signals to provide green lights at about the same time.

While the Capitol and Royal intersection isn't coordinated with University, it’s coordinated with signals farther north on Capitol, and consecutive green lights likely await.

Dear Road Wizard: I have lived in Idaho for a few months and find that the U-turn ruling is confusing as many people don't wait for someone to make this turn, even when there is a sign indicating the right-of-way. I would like to make a simple suggestion that would
clarify when someone is making a U-turn versus turning left. Put on your hazard lights
and everyone would know you are making a U-turn.


Road Wizard:

Welcome to the area! As U-turns become more common, the idea of some sort of signal for the maneuver may have appeal. But in Idaho, moving motorists are not allowed to use hazard lights unless they are trying to indicate a travel hazard that may require some unusual care in approaching or passing their vehicle. Some states ban hazard light use while driving altogether.

Switching on hazard lights as a U-turn signal would send a mixed message, so that isn't the solution. Perhaps some people need reminding that right-turning drivers at red lights and stop signs are required to yield to conflicting U-turns.

Dear Road Wizard: With the completion of the extension of Lake Hazel Road to Cole Road, are the four-way stop signs at Maple Grove Road and Desert Avenue still warranted?


Road Wizard:

The Lake Hazel extension provides an alternative route for drivers traveling from Maple Grove to Cole who may have once relied on Desert, but traffic hasn't changed enough on Desert to justify removing the stop signs on Maple Grove. The need for the four-way stop goes back at least a decade; the extension was completed only about two years ago.

Still, the intersection isn't balanced because traffic has increased on Maple Grove, and stopping those drivers may seem unjustified. However, a free-flowing Maple Grove could create delays and safety concerns for Desert drivers. ACHD is actually considering a signal instead, but there are no immediate plans.

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