ACHD celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Ada County Highway District is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its creation.

Over the next few months, ACHD will share information and photos commemorating this landmark event. We are excited to have various team members who have served the community for many years join us as we tell ACHD’s story. The past five decades has brought on great change and incredible growth at the District.

“This 50th Anniversary milestone and celebration underscores the confidence that the Ada County Voters and Idaho’s Legislature placed on ACHD fifty years ago to effectively and efficiently not only manage, but consistently improve their roadways and infrastructure for all users,” said ACHD Director Bruce Wong. 

Before ACHD’s creation, the responsibility for local roads fell on several different agencies. Boise and Ada County had their own road departments and the smaller cities relied on their small staff and limited equipment to maintain their roads. In 1971 ACHD was born. Voters took to the polls and approved a measure creating the District in an effort to ensure local roads would be maintained consistently and effectively throughout the county. Since then, ACHD has maintained almost all roads throughout Ada County, with the exception of those roads that fall under private ownership or the Idaho Transportation Department.

In the last 50 years, both the county and the district have grown exponentially. When ACHD was established, Ada County had 1,500 lane miles maintained by 157 employees. Fast forward 50 years and the district is up to 5,220 lane miles and counting, all maintained by 376 dedicated employees. To maintain roads in a rapidly growing area requires a healthy budget. ACHD’s budget in 1972 was just under $4M with a current budget of over $141M.

ACHD has invested in quality infrastructure over the years. In 1972, ACHD spent $555,658 for Capital Improvements. In the current budget, $78,831,900 will be spent on Capital Improvements, with a few of the largest projects being the Ten Mile and Amity Rounadabout; Eagle Road, Amity Road to Victory Road; and the Cassia Street Bikeway.

On August 11th, 1971, ACHD held its first Commission Meeting, where its then three members Robert L. Day, Leon Fairbanks and Leo Holt came together to begin the mission of driving quality transportation for all of Ada County. Today, the Commission is comprised of five members who meet four times each month to carry on that mission. Commission meetings can be viewed live online, and schedules and agendas can be found under the Commission Agenda tab on our website.

Photograph of first ACHD Commission
ACHD’s first Commission.

“Although somewhat of an experiment in innovation,” Director Wong said, “ACHD has unquestionably proven that, for Ada County, the consolidation of resources, ideas, funding, and most important, talented professionals that are all focused on a specific mission statement, works and works very well with the greatest return on the taxpayer’s investment.”

The District will continue to share statistics and photos throughout the year in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary. Follow the agency on social media to ride along on this trip down Memory Lane.

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This 14 minute video, “If These Roads Could Talk” explores the reasons and politics behind the creation of ACHD. The piece features interviews with local architect Charles Hummel and former Boise Mayor and City Councilman Dick Eardley. Local historian Susan Stacy also provides perspective, and the video includes a number of vintage photos of the county’s past road problems.