ACHD to reconsider vehicle sensor agreement with Boise

csewell@idahostatesman.comAugust 7, 2013 

The Ada County Highway District Commission will hold a public hearing 6 p.m. Aug. 28 to reconsider its decision to grant the city of Boise a license to embed the wireless vehicle-detection sensors in the pavement of Downtown parking meter spaces.

The ACHD Commission on July 24 voted 3-2 to grant the city the license. But on July 29, ACHD Commissioner Rebecca Arnold, who voted to approve the license, filed a request to reconsider the action because she said she had learned new information since casting her vote.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Commission voted 3-2 to approve Arnold's request and reconsider the license request during a public hearing.

"It is like we never discussed it before. It is a new issue before us," said Commission President Sara Baker. "We are back to square one."

Under ACHD policy, a commissioner who voted with the prevailing side of a motion can move for a reconsideration of the item.

Arnold requested the Commission reconsider the license agreement because she said she learned new facts that were not presented to the highway district commission on July 24.

"Boise city did not disclose to ACHD that there were alternatives to their requested in-pavement installation of the vehicle-detection sensors. In fact, it appears that there are several installation methods available, that there are alternatives to in-pavement installation which would 'reduce cost, increase accuracy and increase life expectancy of the sensor and sensor battery,' and, most importantly, that there are alternatives which do not put the district at risk of damaged pavement and/or increased maintenance costs," wrote Arnold in her request for reconsideration.

The city said some vehicle-detection sensors can be mounted on the meter pole or on the curb, but in-pavement sensors are the best choice.

"Commissioner Arnold's question is a valid one, which we carefully considered when we chose this technology," said city spokesman Adam Park.

He said the "in-road technology is the industry standard" and pole-mounted sensors are susceptible to interruption, manipulation or vandalism.

If any three commissioners vote not to approve the license, that could complicate the city's plans to install 800 parking meters and sensors over the next four years — and possibly require the city to remove the sensors it has already installed.

Boise already has purchased nearly 200 of the vehicle-sensor-equipped parking meters, which cost about $800 each.

The sensors send a signal to the meter when a vehicle enters or exits the parking space, automatically resetting the meter. The city had installed about 70 sensors before an ACHD inspector stopped the work in June because the city did not have ACHD permission.

Under state law, nearly all Downtown Boise streets are ACHD’s responsibility; cities have control of the sidewalks, parking meters and revenues.

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