While the threat of COVID-19 kept many of us working from the safety of our homes, the Ada County Highway District Traffic Operations team was declared essential and continued to work to ensure traffic moved safely and efficiently throughout the county.
Housed at the Adams Street location is ACHD’s Traffic Management Center (TMC), an entire wall of adjustable screens allows the operator to view traffic at each intersection where traffic cameras are installed—198 traffic cameras in all. The operator works closely with both ACHD traffic engineers and local police authorities to adjust traffic signal timing during events, emergencies, and other unexpected traffic backups.
Our TMC operators never missed a beat and continued to work through the entire stay-home order, Monday through Friday. Aside from their regular duties, they were also tasked with monitoring areas around parks, sidewalks and roadways to see if appropriate social distancing spaces were available for people as the number of pedestrians and bicyclists was expected to increase with warmer weather.
To protect our operators, the TMC was closed to the public during this time, and only certain ACHD staff were allowed to enter. Face masks were worn when in a shared space and shared workstations sanitized between each use.
While our TMC operators worked to manage traffic from the inside, the Traffic Operations group worked to ensure traffic signals and associated equipment continued working. Crews continually had to keep safety a priority while maintaining a safe distance from the general public, which wasn’t always easy.
Crews also legally had to continue locating ACHD facilities and maintaining traffic signage (stop signs, etc.). Electronic Specialists dealt with several issues with ACHD’s fiber infrastructure to ensure our network was working properly. Signal Construction and Signal Inspection continued to work with contractors to ensure there were no delays for construction projects. Several crew members remained on-call to respond to any emergencies as necessary.
“We are always available 24/7 to respond to calls and nothing changed throughout this pandemic,” said Greg Fullerton, Traffic Operations Superintendent.
The Striping and Markings crew was the first full Traffic Operations crew to return to work on May 4th. The remaining crews returned to split shifts on May 11th.
Fullerton says, “While we were able to respond to critical issues with limited personnel during the pandemic, the crews are glad to be back at work and returning to normal operations.”