Surprise! Traffic Has Increased

Good news for the merchants at Eagle Road and Fairview–traffic is up 10% in the past three years.

Bad news for motorists at Eagle and Fairview–traffic is up 10% in the past three years.
Eagle Traffic.jpg

Ada County Highway District has released its tally of worst intersections in the county and Eagle-Fairview heads the list at 6,320 cars per hour during peak times. Glenwood and Chinden came in with a close second at 5,850 hourly vehicles at peak.

The mainstreamer media wonks will undoubtedly do live shots standing in the street at rush hour. We’ll just give you the long version from ACHD engineer Terry Little. We love to bash ACHD and Little for their creative paint striping, but in their defense they have to respond to actions of the county and city governments who encourage growth and approve developments so eagerly.

Here is Little’s report:

Similar counts were taken in 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2002. As expected, counts have continued to climb at most intersections. The overall increase in traffic volumes of the top 12 intersections was a moderate 2.5% from 2002 to 2005. This doesn’t reflect a flattening of traffic growth so much as it indicates that intersections are reaching their capacity. Unless further intersection improvements are done, the peak hour traffic volume will not increase significantly at intersections that are at capacity. The peak traffic time will continue to lengthen and drivers will experience more delay or shift to other streets to avoid the congestion.

Fairview & Cole is the “poster child” of intersections that are not improved while area growth continues. It was the busiest intersection in the 1980s but has not been widened in 20 years and runs at capacity during the peak hour. In 1993, it was ranked #8 with 4,240 vehicles per hour (VPH). By 1996, it had increased to 4,550 VPH after some median island and signal timing improvements. The traffic count done last year, nine years later, was identical (4,550 VPH) and the intersection has slipped to #22 on the list of busiest intersections. Major right-of-way costs and impacts caused ACHD to defer a project that was planned for that intersection for the late ‘90s. However, recent redevelopment at the corner may allow the project to get back on track.

Only one intersection exceeded 5,000 VPH in 1993 – Franklin/Milwaukee with 5,300 VPH. During that year, two other intersections exceeded 4,500 VPH: Broadway/Myrtle and Broadway/Beacon with 4,709 and 4,750 VPH, respectively. Currently eight intersections exceed the volume of the top intersection in 1993; 16 intersections exceed the second and third ranked intersections from 1993; and current volumes at 23 intersections exceed the volume at the fourth-ranked intersection in 1993.

Traffic has spread widely and intersections have come and gone from the list due to growth and major roadway projects. The 1993 counts came after the Connector was completed, but the Curtis Road Extension, the West Park Center Bridge construction and the widening of Eagle Road have contributed to the shift in traffic over the last dozen years.

The pattern of traffic growth is following development west and south based on the location and the amount of growth being experienced at those intersections on the list. Some of the decline in the counts at the Downtown Boise intersections can be explained by the BODO construction which took place during all of 2005 and is now wrapping up. But even taking this into account, traffic growth is clearly moving away from the city center.

The westbound freeway off ramp at Meridian Road is the western most intersection ever to make the list. That ramp serves as a major access to the cities of both Meridian and Kuna.

Franklin/Milwaukee was #1 in 1993, 1996 and 1999 but dropped to #4 in 2002. It moved up to #3 in 2005.

Changes related to the location of large employers or commercial opportunities may cause shifts that increase traffic for some intersections and decrease it for others. In some cases local street connections may allow neighborhood traffic to avoid a major intersection. Since the 2002 count, a “short cut” street (Saxton) was built in the northwest quadrant of the State/Glenwood/Gary intersection. Saxton takes about 100 cars per hour out of the intersection, which corresponds closely to the drop of 70 cars per hour between the last two counts.

Eagle Road stands out with 4 intersections in the busiest 15 while Chinden Boulevard had 3 intersections in that group.

Eagle & Fairview had the greatest growth in the last 3 years as well as obtaining the #1 rank. Based on the developable land in that general area there is no reason to believe it will lose its ranking in the near future.

The ranking measures the number of vehicles through the intersection during the peak hour and is not necessarily related to the delay experienced by motorists. Some intersections may be more congested because of fewer lanes, more turning movements or other factors relating to congestion.

Complete ACHD tally at: ACHD survey results.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I bet the report did not mention that ACHD does not care about the fact that many of our neighborhood streets FAR EXCEED the 1000 car trips per day threshold. AND I bet they did not report that MANY EVEN EXCEED THE MAXIMUM limit of 2000 car trips a day.

    I recall ACHD Commissioner Huber once saying at an ACHD hearing that “the ACHD rules for street loads are more like “guidelines” and we don’t follow them anyway. The problem occurs becuase of the City of Boise’s dense zoning practices.” (How do you say “pass the buck?”)

    I recall a Pirate movie with a Pirate Motto of similar phrasing……ACHD and Pirates? Ummmm

  2. In 25 years, Treasure Valley will most likely be “L.A. to the North,” based on current trends. Houses are seemingly going up on every flat patch of land. In the vast majority of cases, work, shopping, school, and entertainment are farther than people seem to be willing to walk or bike-ride… so zoom-zoom they go. Too many vehicles clog the infrastructure, and the rules become guidelines, since they’re routinely being violated.

    If I were shopping for a house, I’d think long and hard before deciding on Heaven’s Little Half-acre, out there somewhere between Podunk and South Podunk. There will be an increasingly heavy price to pay, both financially and socially, as the years go passing by. Gas was $3 last year; maybe it’ll peak at $3.50 or $4 this year. And traffic is unlikely to get better. COMPASS predicts that if current trends continue, a 2-hour commute (to Boise) will be fairly routine.

    But at least you’ve got Howard Stern on your satellite radio, huh?

  3. Steve, I like to think of it as the “Phoenix of the North” LA’s got the beach. They can’t go any farther in that direction. We can have “Smart Growth” in all directions here.

    I think ACHD building a test traffic circle in Canyon County is just wrong. What a mean trick.

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