Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, November 12, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

A tunnel or elevated walkway across Main and Idaho street is not part of the St. Luke's Boise Medical Center Master Plan; emergency and other public service agencies prefer to keep a lane open during road work at locations like Pennfield Avenue and Edna Street; speed increase on Wright Street in front of the Boise Airport.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Please tell me that the St. Luke's Boise Medical Center Master Plan for their downtown Boise campus includes a tunnel or elevated walkway across the heavily-used, primary downtown access streets of Main and Idaho. If not, then please tell me that ACHD will convert the mid-block crosswalks there to be timed with traffic. It mystifies me that ACHD allows a single St. Luke's employee to stop traffic on a whim. Long lines of employees stopping traffic one at a time creates a road rage situation. The new facilities will bring significantly more employees to that already-congested bottleneck, and the closure of Jefferson Street has already added traffic.


Road Wizard:

The pedestrian crossings were installed about 15 years ago at St. Luke's request so their employees could cross Main and Idaho to get to and from the hospital and a primary parking garage.

The St. Luke's expansion plan doesn't include pedestrian bridges at either location. In general, these bridges are expensive, take up a lot of space and often go unused. Tunnels have their own overwhelming complications. And St. Luke's representatives are pretty happy with how the existing crosswalks function.

Some motorists may feel the opposite. Indeed, the pedestrian crossing beacons are not coordinated with nearby traffic signals, and operate on demand regardless of traffic when a pedestrian activates them.

But because of how the nearby intersections operate, there isn't much to gain from coordinating the pedestrian signals. For example, traffic on Idaho arrives from Avenue B, Broadway Avenue and Warm Springs Avenue. One of the locations would need to be selected to endure the delay of the pedestrian crossings. Right now drivers from all of the locations share the stops more fairly.

St. Luke's will be building a sky bridge across Avenue B near Jefferson that will connect the existing Children's Hospital with the planned Children's Pavilion, but it will not be for general use.

Dear Road Wizard: The concrete gutter that crosses Pennfield Avenue at Edna Street was replaced. The work had two phases to replace an east section then a west section; the middle section was last to be done. Why wasn't it all done at once, which would seem to be more efficient? Yes, the road would have to be closed, but it would be an easy detour to get around it. Thanks for all of the helpful tips and information you provide.


Road Wizard:

A full closure would have worked, but generally people aren't as willing to give up direct access to their property.

Also, the consensus among road crews, emergency services, school bus operators, mail carriers and garbage companies is that keeping one lane open during projects is best. Emergency vehicle drivers want to have more than one access to locations when saving seconds can save lives.

Dear Road Wizard: Thank you to whoever is responsible for the speed limit increase on Wright Street in front of the Boise Airport. It's much more driver-friendly without sacrificing safety.


Road Wizard:

Exactly! Many motorists weren't driving at the posted speed limit of 35 mph on the stretch of Wright between Orchard Street and Vista Avenue.

Instead of asking police officers to issue tickets, ACHD collected speed data, checked the sight distances on side streets, and reviewed the accident history to see if an increase was appropriate. It was, and law enforcement agreed to the new 40 mph speed limit.

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