MERIDIAN -- Traffic is one of the major growing pains for those living in one of the Northwest's fastest-growing regions.
U.S. Highway 20-26 - also known as Chinden Boulevard - is a major corridor to and from Meridian to Caldwell that is often a nightmare stretch for drivers. The Idaho Transportation Department held a public hearing in Meridian Tuesday night to share information about the agency's plan to widen one of our area's most traveled roads.
If you ever drive up and down U.S. 20-26 during rush hour, you know just how packed it gets. Many sections of the road from I-84 in Caldwell to Eagle Road bottleneck down from two lanes to one lane in each direction - which can cause issues for drivers and people who live in the area any time of the day.
"It's a real mess trying to use Highway 20," one Boise resident, Everett Baily, said. "It's just stop and go after about 4:30 in the afternoon."
The Bailys have lived in Boise since the 1970's, and they have they seen it grow exponentially. They've also seen the east-to-west traffic along Chinden Blvd grow as rural land transforms into residential and commercial land.
ITD is planning to fix many of those issues over the next couple decades.
"We're looking currently at what's happening on that corridor traffic-wise and safety-wise, but we're also looking years and years ahead," ITD spokesperson Jennifer Gonzalez told KTVB.
Based on their U.S. 20-26 Corridor Study, the department is aiming to widen the 15-mile section of the highway - first to four lanes beginning in 2021 to 2032, then eventually to six lanes by 2040 when traffic volume calls for it and funding is there, officials say.
"We are looking at potential widening in the future; is that funding available right now? It is not," Gonzalez added.
ITD says in 2021 they will widen a one-mile stretch of Chinden Blvd between Eagle Road and Locust Grove to four lanes.
"I think what they have planned makes a lot of sense," Baily added. "It's going to be a continual problem but this would help a lot, really."
The department is also planning a new concept for intersections aimed at accommodating higher traffic volume and creating continual flow of traffic.
Part of the transportation department's corridor study includes an environmental analysis of how the road improvements would affect factors like farm land, air quality, and noise - impacts one Meridian resident Richard Brown is concerned about.
"Our house sits right on the corner of the intersection and so we get a lot of noise and also a lot of drainage from the highway," Brown told KTVB. "We're trying to see how we can curb that."
On Tuesday night, Brown gave feedback and received more information from ITD officials about mitigating issues that affect him.
"There's not an easy solution," Brown added.
Project managers were also on site at Ambrose School in Meridian at Tuesday's hearing to answer questions and record people's verbal input. There will be another meeting on Thursday, March 9, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Charter School in Caldwell to share information. The public can also mail or email their comments.
For more information on the study, visit this website.