Road Wizard 12/15/2019

Topics: Downtown signal timing; traffic camera use; turn lane to nowhere 


Dear Road Wizard:  Is it possible to get the traffic signal timing through downtown set up, again, so that a driver should make all the lights when traveling the speed limit? I have noticed in the early evenings and again this morning at 5:00 a.m., I will stop at a Red light at 8th Street and when it turns green, I have only approximately 7 seconds to get to the 9th Street (Capitol) before it turns red. Janelle

Janelle, once in a blue moon, I receive a question that has a simple, yet also complicated, answer. In this instance, something is amiss with the how the traffic signals along Front Street “communicate” with ACHD’s central system. Every signal on the corridor has an internal clock, and the central network effectively “keeps the time”. It plays the role of a symphony’s conductor, keeping the entire orchestra playing as one. Sometimes, the conductor, or, central system, loses the “master” time and individual controllers can drift relative to the larger network. In a closely coordinated signal network like downtown Boise, it doesn’t take much for a time clock to drift for drivers to notice.

The good news - ACHD is aware of the problem and is working to correct it. Unfortunately, the traffic signal controller cabinet was fenced off from east access due to construction, meaning coordination is required to get to it. But the powers that be have informed me that they were able to get access to the signal cabinet controller and get the clock back in sync.


Dear Road Wizard: I have seen all the cameras around town at intersections. Does ACHD use these to record speeders and red-light runners? What happens to the videos, and is the archive available to the public? Tony

ACHD operates over 190 closed-circuit cameras within Ada County. These cameras are used for live monitoring of traffic trends and to identify crashes and road hazards throughout the day. The public has access to the still images from these cameras through the ACHD website.  There are also numerous video-based vehicle detection cameras that are used to tell the traffic signal controller when a vehicle is at the intersection. None of the cameras are recorded and they are not used for enforcement purposes, traffic or otherwise.


Dear Road Wizard: I live in the subdivision off Reutzel Drive and typically access my residence from Five Mile Road.  Recently, I came south on Cloverdale and nearing the intersection of Reutzel Drive, I pulled into what looks like a newly-created left turn lane to turn onto Reutzel Drive.  The problem is that the left turn lane abruptly ends before it reaches Reutzel Drive causing you to pull back into southbound traffic or be faced with oncoming northbound head on traffic.  What is the point of this “turn lane”?  It is confusing to say the least. Concerned and confused.

My crystal ball tells me there is a plan for additional work next spring to place more asphalt to the north and south on Cloverdale in order to create a usable center turn lane for both streets.

This year, crews simply ran out of time as the temperatures dropped and asphalt became harder to come by due to lower overall demand. Temperatures must be optimal for crews to successfully work with asphalt. If it is too cold, the pavement will cool too fast and it will not set up correctly.


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