Road Wizard 3/13/2020

Topic:  As the Walnut Street Turns

Dear Road Wizard:  The old crack and peeling white "Right Turn only 4-6 PM Monday-Friday” is worthless.

And now more cars coming up Walnut Street and turning left during the restricted 4 to 6 PM time frame are causing backups down the hill past E. Lewis Street. The 7-9 AM is also a problem because Warm Springs Avenue drivers are turning left to head downtown as the Harris Ranch and Foothills traffic is turning down Walnut Street and bypassing the lengthy light at the Warm Springs Avenue/Broadway Avenue intersection. And while I am discussing that busy intersection, most East End neighbors would greatly appreciate a traffic light. Thank you for the crosswalk light. With the increasing traffic coming from Harris Ranch and the Mesa, I think that intersection warrants one. Lois

P.S. I have lived in the East End off and on since 1955. And full time since 1976!

First, the easy part - the sign crew chief assessed the condition of the “right turn only” sign and agrees the sign has reached the end of its glorious and purpose-filled life. The replacement of the sign has been added to the sign crew’s work schedule and will be completed soon.

The District also conducted a morning peak hour turn count at the intersection, as there was no current information available. On this particular weekday, only 26 vehicles made the northbound left turn, along with 239 vehicles making a northbound right turn, between 7 and 9 a.m. Based on area traffic patterns, this perhaps makes some sense, as the vast majority of inbound morning traffic remains on Parkcenter and Front to arrive downtown. Taking Park east to Walnut, then making a left turn onto Warm Springs would require out of direction travel for most commuters heading into Downtown Boise. Most left-turning traffic at this intersection likely originates within the neighborhood adjacent to Municipal Park. Queue length observations during the same timeframe found a maximum of seven vehicles waiting in queue, and this only happened twice, both during the 8 o’clock hour.

For westbound left turns, 367 vehicles turned left from Warm Springs onto Walnut during the same two hours in the morning (along with 1,146 westbound through vehicles).  Based on previous counts at the Park/Parkcenter/Front signalized intersection to the south, traffic is fairly evenly distributed between right turns and left turns. Some of the traffic likely uses Walnut to head towards downtown (via Park and Front), just as many drivers use Walnut to head east on Parkcenter for employment centers (like Albertsons) east of downtown. Preventing westbound left turns from Warm Springs onto Walnut would force traffic into downtown via a single arterial roadway or onto East End neighborhood streets which are not equipped to handle commuter traffic--only serving to further congest an already limited signalized intersection at Broadway.

Although a signal is not likely at this time, it’s not the first time the District has been asked for one at this intersection. All things considered; I would not expect immediate changes to intersection traffic control other than sign replacement.

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