ACHD Turns 40, Birthday Party Wednesday

Contrary to popular belief, the GUARDIAN is looking for examples of good governance and one of the best examples we can find on a local scale is the Ada County Highway District–ACHD.

The agency turns 40 this week and–not surprising–had its genesis in bad government. They like to say the issue was potholes, but it was much deeper.

When each city had its own street department and the county had a road department, there was always the issue of ANNEXATION.

The city wouldn’t fix roads outside the city limits and the county officials were loath to make improvements only to be gobbled up by the city. Hence, a 1971 election created what is touted as a “model system” to place road planning, construction, and maintenance under one countywide district.

Along with the highway system, ACHD began a commuter ride van program that now claims 900 riders aboard 94 vans from Oregon to Mountain Home. The brag an estimated 13.8 million miles were saved by the program.

The cities and ACHD have had their differences over the past 40 years, but taken as a whole, the roads, bike paths, traffic signals, and van pool are valuable additions to the community.

If we could get the same expertise and cooperation on a bus system, we could have something.

There will be a “birthday party” at noon Wednesday at the ACHD HQ building , 3775 Adams in Garden City. If weather predictions are correct, many of the staff will be manning sand trucks and snow plows by that time.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. Tuesday–
CHD Crews Prepare for Incoming Winter Storm

Ada County Highway District (ACHD) Winter Street Service crews are ready to take on what has the makings of this winter’s first snow storm. Crews got a jumpstart on pre-treating Ada County roadways with de-icer this morning (Jan. 17) in advance of the evening commute and forecasted snow. Thirty five de-icer trucks took to the streets, with a focus on major intersections, hills and heavily traveled roads.

Using de-icer on the roads before the evening commute will allow the rush hour traffic to help spread the product over the road, which will provide for good coverage before the snow starts falling. De-icer works as a pre-treatment to help prevent snow from sticking to the roads and forming ice and also works to melt snow once it’s on the ground.

Tonight, crews will attach plows to trucks and will have sand and de-icer trucks staged and ready to go. ACHD will closely monitor the weather conditions over night and crews will be called in before the morning commute if necessary.

So far this season, crews have been out just three times to treat the roads for winter weather. ACHD’s Winter Street Service supplies are fully stocked with sand and de-icer.

ACHD uses a priority system when responding to winter storm events. Major intersections, bridges, schools and hills are among the top priorities. ACHD staff monitors weather forecasts and road conditions in the early morning hours and throughout the day during weather events. ACHD also works closely with Ada County Dispatch on requests for sand or anti-icing applications from police or sheriff deputies.

ACHD provides Winter Street Services to more than 2,200 miles of local roads in Ada County. State highways including Eagle Road, Chinden Boulevard as well as the Interstate and the Boise Connector are managed by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I, too, have generally been quite impressed with ACHD over the years.

    They are very quick to respond to citizen concerns – either phone calls or messages to their “tellus” email hotline.

    They seem genuinely concerned about efforts to make the infrastructure “bike friendly.” Some would probably criticize them for that… but what’s not to like when the road is designed to accommodate motorists and cyclists in zen-like harmony? (I was a charter member of their Bicycle Advisory Committe for 2 or 3 years.)

    They’ve had the occasional stumble… 2 consecutive “North Curtis Road expansions,” … the legal wrangling with the canal people after the Maple Grove extension bridge was put in, etc. But considering the amount of work they’ve done, it’s gone remarkably smoothly. We have much better than average roads, IMO.

    Now if they could synchronize all the lights so nobody who’s obeying the speed limit EVER has to stop at a red light!! (grin)

    Keep up the good work, ACHD.

  2. Before we get the “remember Curtis Road” people, remember that it was a handful of nimby’s who attended the meetings and demanded a 2 lane Curtis extension. Roughly speaking, at that time ACHD policy was to go with the consensus from those public meetings.

    Since then ACHD has changed their process to prevent a vocal minority from running roughshod over the greater good. Too bad other gov’t agencies don’t get this policy.

    Anyway, the nimby’s of that neighborhood claimed the Curtis extension would destroy the neighborhood. Oh yeah? Go drive through that area now. Some of the nicest homes and properties of the entire Bench are in that neighborhood. It appears that almost all are owner occupied.

    I dare any Curtis extension area resident to come on here and explain how they are worse off now.

  3. It is nice to take a moment and celebrate a government agency and its accomplishments. All things considered I think they do a very good job.

    Happy Birthday ACHD, and enjoy the snow! The road gods must have a sense of humor.

  4. How I long for a Canyon County Highway District in the same model as ACHD. They stick to their guns and really do try to do the best job they can for taxpayers.

    This is a shining example of good governance and best practices.

  5. CJ Petrovsky
    Jan 18, 2012, 7:37 pm

    I’ll join this chorus enthusiastically. Paul’s comments are spot on. ACHD is responsible, responsive and well-staffed.
    They do a terrific job.

  6. ACHD spent $14,000 to ‘advertise’ their Road Wizard Q&A in the Idaho Statesman. That was $63,000 in year 2009.

    Anyone checks the declining readership of the Statesman lately? Any reason that Q&A can’t be on the ACHD website only?
    Notice notice how the Statesman pretty much leaves ACHD alone- no critical op/eds about things liek $63,000 in ads or overpaid management and a director that seems to be a ghost.

    ACHD is wasteful!
    It has nothing to do with being an ‘county-wide’ road agency.

  7. a little kissing goin on.

    A review of the above comments shows I thought, what are these people thinking? Are they ACHD PR department employees?

    cj petrovsky spouse of John Petrovsky. John Petrovsky of Ada County Planning & Zoning Chairman– two peas in a pod.

    Mike Tomlin – the Michale Tomlin who lives in Garden Valley? Lots of driving in Ada County I suppose.

  8. Mike Tomlin
    Jan 21, 2012, 6:49 pm

    East Ender,

    I lived in Boise for 16 years, and travel in Ada County at least twice a week now, including yesterday and today.

    But did you have a comment on ACHD, or just want to hit those who did?

  9. Mr. Tomlin,
    I did make a comment on ACHD as well- it is wasteful. And took a stab at the political money gamesmanship with the local media.

    My point toward you and posters is it beyond belief how someone can be favorable toward the agency. It’s comparable to someone saying “Congress is doing a very good job”.
    Yeah, people still drive on the roads and Congressmen still still get reelected.

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