Oct. 22—Pedestrians running across the five lanes of Myrtle Street won't be going away soon. The Idaho Department of Transportation has rejected a request to install a new traffic signal at the intersection.
The Capital City Development Corp., Boise's urban renewal agency, decided in 2017 that it wanted to make the two sides of Myrtle Street more accessible to one another. With downtown on one side and Julia Davis Park on the other, the busy five-lane roadway served as a "barrier in the heart of downtown," according to a 2017 CCDC report.
The area has seen additional pedestrians cross the highway recently because of new downtown hotels, apartments and commercial businesses with employees. A new pedestrian walkway in Julia Davis begins at one end of the 5th and Myrtle intersection.
Is there a need for a new signal?
Researchers counted 3,857 people crossing the intersection in a single week, according to a study commissioned by CCDC.
A large number of crossing incidents occurred during a weekend Art in the Park event. More than 100 people crossed at the intersection every hour during the event.
"A traffic signal will assist in serving peak pedestrian crossings during events at Julia Davis Park or Boise State University," Zach Piepmeyer, CCDC project manager, said in a July 2021 letter to the transportation department.
However, CCDC needed to show the Idaho Department of Transportation that at least 20 people on average used the crosswalk hourly on a typical weekday. The study, which was conducted during the week of September 3, 2018, counted people crossing between 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Of the 3,857 people counted, 996 crossings occurred on weekdays. Weekdays saw an average of 14 people cross each hour.
Though the number of crossings did not meet the necessary threshold, the study said Boise's growth means it may soon. Piepmeyer asked the department to install a traffic signal now in anticipation of downtown's population growth.
"With future growth and some pedestrian crossing shifts from the existing nearby signalized intersections and midblock locations, it is reasonable to assume the 20 crossings/hour threshold will be met in the near term," said the CCDC report by Boise engineering consultant Kittelson and Associates.
Transportation dept. says no to new light
Jake Melder, the department's public information officer, told the Idaho Statesman that "the expenditure to the taxpayer" is an important consideration for the department. Traffic signals aren't cheap.
"It varies a lot," Melder told the Statesman by phone. "Some signals are really straightforward and they're going to be $100,000. Other signals are going to be a lot more complicated and it will be closer to $1 million."
While CCDC offered to pay for the construction of the traffic signal, it would still cost the department between $5,000 to $10,00 each year in maintenance costs, said Melder. Those costs can include part replacements and the electricity to run it.
"The cost needs to be justified," Melder said.
CCDC has no plans to do anything more anytime soon.
"That project has plateaued at the moment, and there isn't a lot of activity on our end," Jordyn Neerdaels, CCDC communications manager told the Idaho Statesman by email.
There is always the possibility that the traffic signal will be installed in the future as the city grows. If that happens, CCDC says vehicles would not be affected substantially.
Currently, average of 3,398 vehicles are stopped by stoplights between Capitol Boulevard and Broadway Avenue on an average weekday. With a new signal, that number would go up to 3,566. Speed would not be affected, according to the study.
"A traffic signal can be fully coordinated with existing traffic signal at 6th Street and Myrtle Street such that through traffic on Myrtle Street should not be required to stop, " Piepmeyer said in his request.
For now, ITD officials advise pedestrians to cross Myrtle by using either the existing signalized crossing at 6th Street, located 390 feet to the west of the 5th Street intersection, or at 3rd Street, located 775 feet to the east.
Sally Krutzig covers Treasure Valley growth and development. Have a story suggestion or a question? Email Krutzig at [email protected].
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/its-risky-crossing-5-lane-myrtle-street-on-foot-a-request-to-make-it-safer-has-stalled/ar-AAPPlxh723