Boise & Garden City

ACHD got 200 emails, 15 letters about 27th Street. Here’s what it just decided to do

After receiving about 200 emails and 15 letters about the configuration of 27th Street, the Ada County Highway District commissioners directed the district’s staff to review the configuration of 27th Street to find solutions to problems drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are facing.

Commissioners chose to review the configuration at their meeting Wednesday after receiving letters from some business owners on the street who said the current configuration, three lanes of traffic, was hurting their businesses and creating unsafe situations.

The 0.7-mile stretch of 27th from Main to State streets has one lane in each direction and a center turn lane. Before 2014, the street had four lanes, with two lanes in each direction and no center turn lane. The 2014 reconfiguration added bike lanes, improved pedestrian safety and updated school crossings. The project cost $600,000.

Jeff Welker, who operates Boise Valley Sports Medicine at 301 N. 27th St., asked ACHD to look at the configuration of the street because he was concerned about safety. He said he had seen several accidents and people driving recklessly since the street changed from four to three lanes.

Additionally, he said people come into his business frustrated about having to wait in traffic on 27th Street and that it can often cause major delays.

“The traffic started to back all the way to State Street,” he said at the meeting. “This caused quite a few problems.”

Residents of the neighborhood disagreed with Welker. They said they have never seen traffic significantly backed up and think the reduction in lanes has greatly enhanced their neighborhood by making it more walkable. Many residents also worried that returning the street to its former configuration would be unsafe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

For bicyclists, the crosswalk with Pleasanton Avenue provides access to the Greenbelt through Esther Simplot Park, and it has become a bikeway for people. 27th Street has also been a connection to Whittier Elementary School at 301 N. 29th St.

Rae Brooks of the West End Neighborhood Association said the number of severe crashes has fallen. Since the reconfiguration, there have been two bike or pedestrian crashes, Brooks said. From 2012 to 2014, there were five.

Lisa Brady, president of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance and director of the Safe Routes to Schools program, a federally funded program based at the Treasure Valley YMCA, said the 27th Street project has been a good project for a long time, but there can always be improvements.

Rebecca Arnold, president of the ACHD commission, said she has seen backups and drivers doing reckless things. She directed the staff to look at the street and come up with solutions to those problems, such as adding bulb-outs, adding a right turn lane at Main Street and 27th, and better buffering the bicycle lanes.

The staff was assigned to come back to the commission within 30 days with possible solutions.

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