The Ada County Highway District unveiled a set of proposals for improving bicycle access to Capitol Boulevard at an open house Nov. 4, specifically geared toward the area south of the Boise River to Rose Hill Street.
Whittled down from eight proposals, the four options offered at the Sage International School open house included a center-running, two-lane bike lane; two one-way protected lanes on each side of the street; shared-use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians similar to the Greenbelt; and a two-way protected bike lane along the west side of Capitol.
The availability of space is the central challenge faced by each proposal. In its current form, Capitol Boulevard is six-lanes wide with a tree-lined median and sidewalks. It's also one of the busiest roads in the city. Each of the proposals would require purchasing land or eating into auto lanes.
Each of the options would also increase commute times. Constructing a center-running bike lane, for example, would increase travel time between Rose Hill Street to the Capitol Boulevard bridge by 10-29 seconds. A one-way protected bike lane, like the one on Capitol Boulevard north of the river, would increase travel time 7-25 seconds.
At the open house, ACHD presented each of its options alongside their benefits and trade offs. Constructing multi-use pathways "improves what is already happening"—people riding their bikes on sidewalks alongside pedestrians—but may require ACHD to purchase right-of-way access and widen the bridge over a canal, adding cost. Some of the options actually increased the potential for crashes and conflicts between pedestrians, bicyclists and/or motorists.
"Mixed use is hard to do," said on attendee. "Any time you share something, you're going to have conflict."
Previous public input indicated support for an over- or underpass crossing Capitol Boulevard at University Drive. Project designers praised the idea for making it easier and faster to cross the busy road without delaying car traffic, and segregating bicyclists and pedestrians from cars. That option's $6 million price tag nixed it from consideration.
The open house Nov. 4 was the second public showcase for the so-called Capitol Boulevard Concept
. ACHD plans to consider and refine the four designs through December, with a final report due for presentation at an ACHD Commission meeting in December or January. ACHD is accepting feedback on through an online survey