Concrete barriers on Eagle Road: good idea or bad idea?
MERIDIAN-- A plan to make Eagle Road safer by installing barriers to prevent left-hand turns is being met with opposition from area drivers and businesses.
While drivers question whether the barriers will make a measurable dent in traffic, businesses worry the $4.7 million construction project will negatively impact their summer profits.
KTVB asked: Can ITD tame the beast?
The Idaho Transportation Department reports Eagle Road is the most traveled non-interstate highway in the state of Idaho. To help alleviate congestion, ITD officials say they've been planning changes to the road since 2003. They also admit that many of their proposed changes have been met with criticism by the public.
Some might ask, 'why?'
“Because it's crazy busy,” said Boise resident Heather Wallin.
Boisean Roddy Edwards agrees. “I will just drive it if I have to, but I don't really want to drive it.”
Left hand turns will soon be a 'no-no' in several more locations
ITD's latest attempt at increasing safety
Drivers who talked with KTVB on Tuesday largely agreed that Eagle Road is a force to be reckoned with. That's also why officials at ITD are trying to tame the beast.
ITD spokesman Reed Hollinshead says workers are installing raised medians to prevent drivers from turning 'left' at many locations along the road’s stretch. “We are trying to eliminate some of those left turns,” Hollinshead said, adding he hopes the left turns will increase traffic flow.
Boisean Heather Wallin thinks that's a bad idea.
“They are putting the medians in the road? -- No absolutely not,” Wallin said in disbelief when KTVB told her of ITD's plan.
Wallin is just one the drivers we asked who believes adding medians will actually hurt traffic flow. However, she did admit she thinks the medians could help with traffic safety.
Hollinshead says one of ITD's top concerns is to make busy Eagle Road a lot safer. That's because according to ITD records, hundreds of crashes are reported here each year. In 2010, 280 crashes were reported on Eagle Road.
“When you turn left, and you expose yourself broadside to somebody, the severity of that accident can be really huge,” said Hollinshead.
Businesses say bad traffic on Eagle Road often means poor sales
Good for safety, but bad for business?
Business owner Ashley Strong manages Kneaders Bakery and Cafe along the 3400 block of North Eagle Road in Meridian. She says traffic often negatively impacts sales at her business.
“If there is even the slightest crash, there are miles of back up,” Strong said, adding that she usually sees a few crashes each week that impact sales. That's why she's in favor of left-hand turn barriers -- if they create a safer road, and also a better business environment.
“So, if it means me driving up a couple blocks just to cross the road safely, that is totally fine, I don't mind it,” said Strong.
However, representatives from other businesses in the area told KTVB they're not convinced more construction is the answer to Eagle Road's traffic nightmare.
Management at Snake River Yamaha on Fairview Avenue told KTVB the recent construction is hurting their bottom line.
They say construction crews have cut-off access to the store from Eagle Road while also creating traffic hazards. Store staff say they've even put up traffic cones to remind drivers who cut through their parking lot to slow down.
Yet for ITD, both business and safety is a concern. Hollinshead says he hopes long-term traffic control will justify any short-term inconveniences drivers and businesses may experience.
“When there is just momentary inconvenience, but then the result is long term safety, that is a decision we have to make,” said Hollinshead, who also says he hopes drivers and businesses can stay positive through the end of the construction season, which is set for December.