Just when the Boise City Council thought there was some light at the end of the long tunnel that has been debate over the St. Luke's Master Plan, things have gotten a bit dimmer. It turns out the mess-of-an-intersection where Warm Springs and Broadway avenues, Bannock and Idaho streets and Avenue B collide will have to change to accommodate even more traffic into the area.
"This isn't a very good intersection now," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. "We would be remiss if we didn't try to make this better."
Getting all of the parties, including the hospital, city planners and Ada County Highway District, to agree on how traffic needs to move through the already perilous intersection may be the toughest task yet.
"We thought this intersection might be good for a three-lane roundabout," said Karen Gallagher, city of Boise transportation planner. "But ACHD's consultant came back with a two-lane roundabout plan. Two lanes in a roundabout just don't really increase bike- or pedestrian-friendliness to the area."
Another radical option—the possibility of splitting the five-street intersection into two separate intersections—is also giving city planners heartburn.
"St. Luke's has concerns over two intersections, and we share those concerns," said Gallagher.
Something needs to be decided sooner than later. The Boise City Council and ACHD will be asked to sign off on the St. Luke's Master Plan in a rare joint-session, slated for Tuesday, Feb. 2.
"But this is too important. It deserves to get comments from St. Luke's and citizens," said Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg.
Bieter is relunctant to repeat the drawn-out, emotional debate that led to the council's approval of the St. Luke's Master Plan.
"I promise you, we're not revisiting the whole process that took...well, it seemed like it took 85 years to get this far," he said.