Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, June 25, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Too little green light time for left-turn backups at Curtis Road and Chinden Boulevard; left turns on red light at Whitewater Park Boulevard onto Fairview Avenue no longer allowed; sinkholes filled after lost phone messages

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Each morning I drive down Ustick Road, turning left onto northbound Curtis Road into the Veterans Memorial Parkway lane to travel across Chinden Boulevard and the river to State Street. In the last few months, a problem has developed with the through traffic lane on Curtis being blocked by cars that come down Curtis to turn left onto Chinden. The two turn lanes are too short for the amount of traffic, the cars back up, even to the Ustick intersection, and no one can turn left off of Ustick. The lights aren't timed right to empty the lane in time for the green light for Ustick. Can anything be done?


Road Wizard:

These intersections suffer from over-capacity problems during the "peak of the peak." The peaks represent the least-pleasant traffic conditions during the morning and evening commutes. They are also the most challenging periods to find extra green light time for backups at left-turn lanes.

Chinden carries the most traffic and taking green time from the through lanes there would create a bigger problem. Some people are already waiting two signal cycles at the Curtis/Veterans intersection as they travel eastbound on Chinden during the morning commute. The green lights for the other travel directions are already as short as possible to assist in moving Chinden traffic while still providing the required amount of pedestrian crossing time.

In other words, there's no available time in the signal cycle to help clear the left-turn lanes on Curtis to Chinden. But the backups to Ustick may be resolved another way.

The nearby Cole Road and Fairview Avenue intersection reconstruction closures are likely directing impacted drivers to Curtis as an alternative route. The project is expected to be done by mid-September, so the visiting vehicles on Curtis can go back to their regular routine.

Dear Road Wizard: I frequently take Whitewater Park Boulevard to work. The street ends at Fairview Avenue. Since Fairview is a one-way road going toward downtown, if I'm in the left lane, on Whitewater Park, turning left onto Fairview, is it legal to turn left on red?


Road Wizard:

At first, the left-most left-turn lane signal on Whitewater Park Boulevard displayed a red ball. Drivers turning left onto a one-way street are allowed to do so at regular red lights after yielding to any pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

The other left-turn lane displayed a red arrow which means turns on red are prohibited. It isn't considered safe for two left-turn lanes to allow turns on red. A turning vehicle in the right-most lane can block the view from the other left-turn lane.

Now, both lanes have red arrows, meaning turns on red are prohibited from either lane. This prevents driver confusion and takes away the motivation to compete for the left-on-red lane. Drivers who turned on red were typically stopped by a red light at nearby 27th Street anyway.

Dear Road Wizard: I have called twice about a small sinkhole and other holes in our street. I left messages each time and no one has come out to look. Henry


Road Wizard:

ACHD has no record of the messages, so please don't feel ignored. It's hard to say what happened. But your letter to the Road Wizard was forwarded to ACHD and they repaired the holes right away.

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