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A New Direction

ACHD proposes more two-ways, roundabouts

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Navigating Ada County Highway District's elaborate plans for downtown Boise is tricky business--nearly impossible if you're colorblind.

"My apologies to the mayor," said Matt Edmond, ACHD senior transportation planner, as colorblind Dave Bieter strained to make out a tapestry of hues highlighting a map of downtown Boise streets.

Bieter squinted as he pored through Edmond's maps, which had also been distributed to Boise City Council members David Eberle and Lauren McLean, as well as six other members of the Capital City Development Corporation Board of Commissioners June 10. The maps highlighted a bundle of ACHD proposals--the conversion of seven one-way downtown streets into two-way, introduction of roundabouts at seven intersections, and an elaborate expansion of designated bike lanes in the city's inner core--that would, quite literally, move Boise in new directions.

"These are extremely preliminary," Edmond cautioned Boise Weekly.

The proposals are the first glimpse of a plan that started with community conversations over the last few years, and included two ACHD open house meetings that attracted plenty of attention.

"It's back to the future," Boise Councilwoman Elaine Clegg told BW at a June 6 open house. "We always had two-way streets. We changed them to one-way streets with the understanding that, somehow, we needed to move more cars through downtown. What we really need is to get people downtown."

ACHD's proposals include conversion of a series of currently one-way streets: Third, Fourth, a section of Eighth (between Bannock and Jefferson), 11th, 12th and 14th into two-ways. Additionally, Jefferson Street is being proposed as a two-way thoroughfare.

"And we're still looking at 13th Street," said Edmond. "We want to look at some more computer modeling before we recommend that street should be two-way."

A simple, yet compelling example would see the inclusion of travel lanes--in both directions--on 11th Street; separately-designated bike lanes, also in each direction; and room for parking. Therefore, someone could their bicycle from Boise High to the Greenbelt, or vice versa, with no difficulty.

Another big change would be the introduction of so-called "mini-roundabouts," designed for intersections with less commercial traffic and with an inner circle of less than 75 feet.

"But a larger vehicle could still use some of the center island to negotiate the circle if the roundabout is a tight fit," said Edmond. "We looked at places where we didn't anticipate a lot of truck traffic and had a balanced volume of cars, traveling at lower speeds from different directions."

The roundabouts are proposed for Third Street at two intersections: Bannock and Jefferson streets; Grove Street at four intersections: 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th streets; and Bannock at 12th Street.

"Best case scenario, we're shooting for a [Wednesday] Aug. 28 approval from the ACHD Board," said Edmond. "But we need to get the take from CCDC and the Boise City Council before we adopt."

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