Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, November 19, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Miles to Boise sign on Interstate 84 westbound from Mountain Home seems to gain five miles; utility companies pay for excavating roads such as Amity Road west of Five Mile Road.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I think I asked this same question about 20 years ago and never got a satisfactory answer. It still puzzles me. Driving west on Interstate 84 from Mountain Home to Boise there are several mileage signs. One says "Boise 19, Meridian 29." Then you see "Boise 16, Meridian 26." Makes sense. Then just past the rest stop I see "Boise 3, Meridian 18." Wow! I can't help but wonder where those extra five miles came from. Can you help me make sense of it?


Road Wizard:

This all has to do with where drivers officially arrive in Boise and Meridian when traveling on Interstate 84.

The first two signs heading west from Mountain Home show how many miles there are until drivers get to the area of the Broadway and Vista avenues interchanges (Boise) and the Meridian Road interchange (Meridian).

But the last sign stating that Boise is suddenly five miles closer is incorrect. Perhaps the person who ordered that sign was showing the distance to the Boise city limits instead of the interchanges, while keeping the Meridian arrival location the same.

The Boise 3 miles sign should say Boise is 8 miles away. The Idaho Transportation Department will make the change. No wonder the drive from Mountain Home can seem short!

Dear Road Wizard: A year or two ago a section of Amity Road west of Five Mile Road was torn up for utility trenching work and then patched. This year much of that same section was torn up again for more pipe laying. In addition, long sections of Five Mile north and south of Amity are being dug up for utility pipe laying. Who pays for this: the utility benefiting from the work, or us taxpayers? Also, is there any hope of Five Mile and Amity being repaved so we locals can go back to driving on smooth road surfaces again?


Road Wizard:

A common misconception about road work is that there is no regard for digging up newly built or freshly paved roads. That type of situation is avoided as much as possible. When ACHD is planning road work, utilities are contacted to see if under-road projects can be done prior to construction. The groups may partner on the timing and cost of the work.

Otherwise, utilities may have to get under streets as their needs demand it. In either case, the utilities foot the entire bill for the impact of their work. The cost includes patching up any holes or trenches. Unfortunately, utilities sometimes have to do their underground work in phases.

ACHD prevents excessive road holes as part of its "no cut moratorium." When a newly constructed or repaved road surface has been in service for less than five years, no road digging is allowed without special ACHD approval. For example, Amity east of Five Mile had an overlay in 2016 and should still be in great shape because it's on the no cut list. However, the rules do not apply to emergencies such as busted water lines.

While the patched parts of Five Mile and Amity are a nuisance to drivers, the pavement condition itself is still in the "very good" category. The roads will not qualify for new pavement in the next four or five years at least. But they will be chip sealed in a couple of years which will smooth out the street surface.


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