Transportation-Priorities Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

ACHD to adopt its Integrated Five Year Work Plan (IFYWP) on Sept 25.

Why should you care?

Ada County Highway District uses the IFYWP to help direct what projects will move forward in the next five years. Getting the priorities right on this plan is vitally important.

As ACHD looks to implement the 2020 budget, your comments and feedback can help influence the projects and priorities that move forward.

What’s already happened?

On August 29th, the commission voted to add $3 million back into Community Programs for the 2020 budget. Idaho Smart Growth sees this as a little victory as Community Programs is the funding source for most pedestrian and bicycle improvements in Ada County.

As ACHD looks to execute their 2020 budget, Idaho Smart Growth encourages support for four broad changes to ACHD’s transportation priorities.

  1. Create a safe and comfortable networks for all modes
  2. Prioritize basic, safe infrastructure over convenience
  3. Use better performance measurements to assess how well the system is working for all users
  4. Lead on transit

1. Safe network for all modes

ACHD adopted their complete streets policy in 2009 yet 10 years later there are still few corridors that are safe and convenient for people walking, biking or taking transit and to date there is no actual connected network that serves these users even at the most basic level.

We recommend starting with the implementation of the full Roadways to Bikeways Master Plan. Developing this network through piecemeal projects means it will take another 10 years, or possibly more, before the completion of the bike network.

2. Safety over convenience

For pedestrian improvements ACHD needs to go beyond safe routes to schools, sidewalk ramps and attached sidewalks in all new road projects. These are good, but do not create a connected network. We recommend ACHD take a corridor approach rather than a project approach to the IFYWP, looking first at safety improvements throughout the corridor.

We believe providing a safe roadway for ALL users should take priority over improving convenience for any ONE mode.

3. Use better performance measurements

ACHD employs a level of service (LOS) measure for streets and intersections to assist in measuring congestion and determining needed system enhancements. Roads and intersections are graded on a scale of A through F based on use during peak hour (the busiest hour of the day).

This measurement tool has been shown to prioritize projects based on capacity issues for people driving, but does little to measure priorities for people walking, biking or taking transit. There are new measurement tools that address the growing demand for modes other than driving. We recommend ACHD consider using FHWA’s new Guidebook for Measuring Multimodal Network Connectivity to assess how well our roads are serving ALL users.

4. Lead on transit

As the primary entity responsible for transportation in our communities, ACHD must be part of the transit solution. We recommend ACHD take a leadership role in helping Valley Regional Transit implement bus rapid transit (BRT) for State Street. An increasingly busy transit corridor, State Street can be the perfect pilot project.

BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of a streetcar with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system. Once we know how much congestion relief BRT would bring to State Street and the surrounding areas, we will have a better idea of the types of design and infrastructure improvements needed.

What happens next?

The next step in ACHD’s process of creating transportation priorities is the September 25 meeting, so it’s vitally important for citizens to show up and comment on this IFYWP.

We encourage all Ada County residents concerned about the safety and comfort of people walking and biking to attend the commission meeting on September 25th at 6:00 PM in the ACHD auditorium and comment on what you want ACHD to prioritize over the next 5 years.

Have questions or want more information? Reach out to Deanna Smith in our office. Deanna is Idaho Smart Growth’s advocate to ACHD.

Top photo credit: Brett Sayles from Pexels