Downtown Boise’s two-way conversions are popular with City Hall.
City leaders want Ada County Highway District, which controls public roads in Boise and the rest of the county, to do more of them. They want cars to move slower and to encourage people to walk and bike to their destinations.
“(One-way streets) are designed to move cars, to the detriment of moving people on sidewalks, moving people in bike lanes and other things,” city spokesman Mike Journee.
Between 2014 and last fall, the highway district converted Downtown stretches of 3rd, 4th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and Jefferson streets from one-ways to two-ways. The thinking at City Hall is that those conversions were successful.
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Police like the safety two-ways offer because fewer people end up driving the wrong way, Journee said. Retailers like them because finding their stores is easier, and with traffic moving slower, shops have better exposure.
The city also believes that two-way conversions have distributed traffic more evenly across the Downtown street grid, Journee said.
Now, the highway district is considering two-way conversions on 5th and 6th streets between Fort and Front streets. The district is holding an open house Thursday for people who want to know more about the proposed conversions.
One drawback is that two-ways make traffic lights harder to synchronize. One-ways are ideal for allowing a continuous flow of traffic. That’s why City Hall wants the highway district to re-do traffic light timing, Journee said.
City leaders still believe in having some one-ways for people whose routes simply take them through Downtown. That’s what Main, Idaho, Front and Myrtle streets, as well as Capitol Boulevard are for, Journee said. For most Downtown streets, though, he said, two-ways work better.
“It slows cars down. Yes,” Journee said. “But without that, the user experience Downtown is limited.”