Guest Opinions

No more Southwest Ada County homes until roads can be built or expanded

Phill VanSickle
Phill VanSickle

South Cole and other nearby roads in southwest Ada County, such as Maple Grove and Lake Hazel, are always busy, especially the last stretch of Cole south of Victory Road. The need for improvements was identified over 20 years ago. While several promises of new roads have been made, thousands of new homes were built and traffic has only gotten worse. Our community can no longer wait. We need road improvements such as extending Lake Hazel to Orchard and adding turn lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians along Cole between Victory and Lake Hazel.

As far back as 1996, a need for a Lake Hazel to Pleasant Valley Road extension was identified by the Community Planning Association of Southwestern Idaho.In 1998, the Fiddler’s Glenn and Moon Ridge subdivisions were approved with provisions for Lake Hazel Road to be extended east in the future. Since then, thousands of new homes have been built in these and other nearby subdivisions. In 2006, the traffic problem was noted in an article in the Idaho Statesman: “Dorothy Rexroat wants local leaders to drive Lake Hazel, Amity, Cloverdale, Five Mile and Maple Grove roads on a weekday from 5 to 6 p.m. ‘Maple Grove and Lake Hazel have become a funnel for all of the developments to our south and west, so the roads are a mess,’ said Rexroat. Improvements can’t wait 10 years, she said: ‘It needs to happen tomorrow.’ Local planners are trying to find solutions to the area’s traffic woes as subdivisions put more cars on unimproved country roads before 2016.”

It is now October 2016 and the new Lake Hazel to Cole Road extension has been open for less than one year. Otherwise, with the exception of more traffic, not much has changed in 10 years since “local planners” promised improvements in the Statesman article from 2006 or in the 20 years since COMPASS identified the need for new roads.

In January, ACHD stated that Cole Road exceeds the “acceptable level of service standards.” Ask anyone in this area if they think the traffic on Cole Road is “acceptable” and they would strongly disagree. Traffic is backed up from I-84 past Victory Road every morning. Parents, such as myself, worry about the kids who ride their bikes or walk to one of the five schools in the area.

Now, the developers of the Syringa Valley project want to put in thousands more homes east of Cole Road. Once again with promises of road improvements. Something must be done before the traffic situation in our community spirals out of control. Residents are taking action. A new neighborhood association, registered with Ada County, has been formed to give residents a voice that they have not had. The South Cole Citizens Alliance is on Facebook and is asking residents to become involved. This area cannot wait 20, 10 or even five years; new roads must be built before new homes.

Phill VanSickle is president of South Cole Citizens Alliance.