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‘Reallocation:’ Boise State asks for input on future of University Drive

It’s the key route through the Boise State University campus – linking Capitol Blvd. and Broadway Ave.: University Drive. The future of the wide boulevard-style street has been a hot topic on the school’s long-range master planning for years.

Now, the school hopes to gather public feedback on the future of the street through its campus. University Drive is controlled not by the school, but like most public roadways in the county, the Ada County Highway District.

At one point, the school’s master plan showed the street closing to all motor vehicles, but the school later modified the plan to show the road remaining open to traffic.

[January: Boise State master plan change heads to planning commission: new detail on what’s planned, neighborhood opposition]

“The University Drive Reallocation project aims to implement a series of safety-conscious improvements on University Drive between Chrisway Drive and Lincoln Avenue,” the school’s ‘virtual open house’ notes. “These improvements will modernize the corridor and integrate it into the campus and community in a way that accommodates all of today and tomorrow’s users.”

University Drive through the heart of campus is currently a five lane road, with two travel lanes in each direction and a center turn lane. It also has bike lanes and sidewalks in both directions.

Boise State says the road will convert to a single vehicle lane in each direction. It says one of the goals of the project is to “decrease the crashes along the corridor.” It says there is an average of one pedestrian crash per year.

The school says the role of University continues to shift.

“Although there has been continued growth of Boise State programs and enrollment, there has also been a substantial increase in the number of students living on campus or close by…. Traffic volumes have decreased on University Drive by approximately 17% over the last ten years.”

Two ‘alternatives’

The open house lays out two different proposals for revamping the road. The two plans are nearly identical, with the only substantial difference one-way bike lanes on each side of the road, or two-way “cycle tracks” on each side of the road.

Option 1: Protected bike lanes

Left – current aerial photo; Right – Option 1

The first option favors protected bike lanes on both sides of University. The lanes have started to pop up in Ada County, including near Boise City Hall.

  • New bike lanes separated from vehicle traffic by a strip of landscaping.
  • New floating traffic islands for buses to load and unload. The islands sit between the bike lane and traffic lanes, which allow buses to stop for passengers without crossing the bike lane.
  • Wider 10-foot-wide sidewalks.
  • Landscaped center lane, with openings for vehicles to make turns at roads and driveways.
  • Upgraded pedestrian crossings with “refuge” space in the current center turn lane. Some crossings include a mechanism for folks on foot to signal drivers to stop with an overhead light.

Option 2: Cycle track

Left – current aerial photo; Right – Option 2

The first option favors a protected cycle track on both sides of University. A cycle track was implemented near St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise.

  • Two-way cycle track on both sides of University, separated from the roadway with a landscaped barrier.
  • New floating traffic islands for buses to load and unload. The islands sit between the bike lane and traffic lanes, which allow buses to stop for passengers without crossing the bike lane.
  • Wider 10-foot-wide sidewalks.
  • Landscaped center lane, with openings for vehicles to make turns at roads and driveways.
  • Upgraded pedestrian crossings with “refuge” space in the current center turn lane. Some crossings include a mechanism for folks on foot to signal drivers to stop with an overhead light.
  • Though the school does not say this in its presentation, traffic lanes are depicted as being less wide on renderings.

Comparing the options

The two options the school outlines vary slightly, with slight variations to lane widths and landscaping elements to accommodate for the different widths of the bike lane options versus the cycle track:

Alternative 1 - bike lanes
Left – Option 1/bike lanes; Right – Option 2/cycle track

How to give feedback

The school set up an online survey to collect community feedback on changes to the corridor. It will also hold a ‘virtual town hall’ on December 17th from 6pm-7pm. Folks who want to attend must register in advance. Questions and comments can also go to Boise State Capital Asset and Development Manager Drew Alexander – by email at drewalexander@boisestate.edu or phone (208) 426-1268

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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