Leadership from the Ada County Highway District and the City of Eagle met this morning for a joint meeting. ACHD Director Bruce Wong opened the meeting with a presentation about ACHD, detailing what the agency does and how they do it. Senior Project Manager Ryan Cutler followed with a presentation of the history of the Eagle Road and State Street Intersection project. Eagle City Councilman Kenny Pittman expressed concerns about how traffic impacts would be mitigated during construction. Ryan Cutler assured him that the project would be done in portions to allow for detours.
Next, Gary Inselman, Deputy Director of Development and Technical Services, spoke about traffic impact fees. Councilman Pittman followed up with a question about how projects are prioritized, and how impact fees revenues from a city are in turn spent in that city. Gary Inselman explained that impact fees are spent in the year that they are collected. While the difference between revenue and expenditures in each city may vary year to year because of that, they even out over time.
Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce asked ACHD if they feel that they are getting what they need financially from impact fees, and if there was anything the city could do to contribute some of their general fund dollars to help them get more of the projects they are interested done and to give them more flexibility with the projects. Director Bruce Wong explained that we will be working with the legislature this coming year to expand how impact fee dollars can be spent. He also clarified that ACHD has not partnered with any of the cities to use or borrow money from their general funds to help pay for and prioritize projects in that city.
Councilman Brad Pike asked how impact fees are calculated and Gary Inselman responded that there is a fee schedule in the impact fee ordinance that dictates those calculations.
Councilman Pittman expressed concerns about growth in Beacon Light and Floating Feather roads area and asked how to prioritize more bicycle lanes there, as well as filling in sidewalk gaps in the downtown Eagle area. Director Wong explained the importance of the city’s thoughtfully preparing the prioritization request list that they provide ACHD with each year. Justin Lucas, ACHD Deputy Director of Plans and Projects, explained that the priority lists from each city are included in the ACHD Integrated Five-Year Work Plan and are an important part of the prioritization system. That information, coupled with a technical analysis (which includes safety and the benefit the improvement would be to the entire system), are all presented to the ACHD Commission each year, who then determine which projects move forward.
Councilwoman Miranda Gold reminded all of the importance of including the residence in any planned changes to the area near Beacon Light, as they would like to maintain the rural feel of their area.
Councilman Charlie Baun expressed concerns with standardizing the widths of bike lanes and making them wider, as well as concerns with putting bicyclists and pedestrians together on multi-use paths. Director Wong responded that the Commission will be approaching the legislature this year about standardizing multi-use paths, and that as a whole, ACHD is taking a different approach to bicycle lanes. The agency regularly engages with their Bicycle Advisory Committee, and on each project, the Commission must carefully consider the best use of the entire infrastructure, the cost to the taxpayer, and level of utilization of the facility. He mentioned that existing infrastructure is a separate challenge.
The meeting adjourned shortly after 10 a.m.