Highway district gives Boise 30 days to remove vehicle-detection sensors

csewell@idahostatesman.comSeptember 5, 2013 

downtown, boise, parking meter, city hall, parking, street

Parking meters in downtown Boise outside of City Hall.

JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

The Ada County Highway District on Thursday notified the city of Boise it has 30 days to remove all vehicle-detection sensors it has already embedded in the pavement of Downtown parking meter spaces.

Once the city removes the sensors, ACHD said its maintenance crews will refill the holes at ACHD's cost.

The ACHD Commission on Aug. 28 reversed its decision to allow the city to put the sensors in nearly 800 parking meter spaces.

The sensors are wirelessly paired with a parking meter to send a signal whenever a vehicle enters or exits a space.

The city has already purchased nearly 200 of the sensors and had installed 68 of them before an ACHD inspector stopped the work in June. The city at the time did not have the highway district's permission to cut into the roadway and install the sensors, which are then covered with epoxy.

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

City officials said they do not need permission from ACHD to install the sensors because the sensors are a parking function, but they agreed to enter an agreement with ACHD. Under the agreement, the city would be responsible for maintaining the sensors and paying for any roadway damage caused by the sensors.

The ACHD Commission on July 24 voted 3-2 to grant the city the license. But on July 29, Commissioner Rebecca Arnold, who voted to approve the license, asked to reconsider the matter because she had learned new information, including the option to mount the sensors on the parking meter pole or on the curb. That step would take ACHD and its roadways out of the picture altogether.

The city can still install its new “smart” parking meters, which are easily programmed and accept credit and debit cards, but not the accompanying vehicle detection sensors.

City Council President Maryanne Jordan told ACHD Commissioners last week the sensors would help Boise gather better data on how parking meters are used. The council earlier this summer decided to hold off on increasing parking meter hours and fees until council members had more information.

Boise is now considering its options for the vehicle-detection sensors, including possibly taking legal action against ACHD.

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