While Boise anxiously awaits the beginning of the City Center Plaza, a major facelift and addition to the Grove Plaza, the construction of a subterranean multi-modal transit center, the much-anticiapted JUMP project and the City of Boise's downtown circulator analysis, the Ada County Highway District—which oversees all of Ada County's 2,100 miles of roads, including Boise's—is about to take a big step forward with a pilot project to give Boise a taste of what it's aggressive Downtown Boise Implementation Plan will look like in reality.
In a rare Sunday press briefing, ACHD officials detailed the pilot project, which will introduce buffered bike lanes to Main and Idaho streets and Capitol Boulevard by the end of this week. In fact, ACHD crews will be out all night tonight preparing Capitol Boulevard and will take most of Tuesday and Wednesday nights to complete Main and Idaho.
The pilot project will definitely last through the month of May, but ACHD Vice President Mitchell Jaurena said that by the third week of May, ACHD staff will determine if they want to extend the pilot into June.
"I think within 30 to 60 days, we can find the information we need," said Jaurena.
Here's what motorists and cyclists need to know:
On Capitol Boulevard, the far-right lane is being taken away from automobiles and dedicated to a cycling line, to be buffered by a string of white stick-like posts called "candlesticks."The dedicated, buffered bike lane will run from the Boise River to Jefferson.
On Idaho Street, the far-right lane will be taken away from automobiles and dedicated to a buffered cycling lane, from Broadway Avenue to 16th Street.
On Main Street, the far-left lane will be taken away from automobiles and dedicated to a buffered cycling lane, from 16th Street to Broadway Avenue.
Bicyclists and motorists will also need to get used to a green-colored "bike box" to be painted into the pavement. This is where bicyclists, as they approach a traffic light, will be able to wait in front of automobiles (on the right on Capitol or Main and on the left on Idaho). This way, bicyclists who need to make 90-degree turns will be able to join the cross traffic.
"It's new for Boise, but it's not new across the nation," said Jaurena. "It's being used in Portland, Seattle, all over."
But painting a word picture doesn't adequately explain the experience.
"Like so many supposed simple things, it's hard to describe. That is, until you go out there and really do it," said Jaurena.
ACHD officials concede that Idaho struggles with change, particularly to transportation patterns.
"Nobody likes change," said Jaurena. "That said, we'll take all of the comments as factors and give it our most honest evaluation."
And ACHD is hoping that citizens will give ample feedback at the district's website: achdidaho.org