Connor Franklin, a freshman studying business and psychology, spent the very first morning of his college career stuck in traffic. Even after leaving his home in Meridian over an hour before his 9 am class started, Franklin was still 15 minutes late.
“I was like, ‘What an impression,’” Franklin said.
Franklin attributes his tardiness that morning to the construction project at Cloverdale and Franklin Road. According to Dave Rader, a senior project manager with Ada County Highway District (ACHD), the main goal of the Cloverdale project was to reopen the overpass which had previously been deemed unsafe for travel.
The Cloverdale Road overpass was officially closed in June of 2018, following a devastating crash involving seven vehicles which resulted in four fatalities. Since then, ACHD has been working to replace the bridge while also improving upon it.
“The road was expanded essentially from three lanes to five, so it allows for more efficient travel for vehicles,” Rader said. “Also, that segment of Cloverdale was lacking continuous bike and pedestrian facilities.”
Now that the project is coming to an end, Rader said he hopes the new accommodations will be of benefit to those traveling the segment on foot, by bicycle or any other means.
Franklin, feeling lost regarding the details about the work in progress, does not believe that ACHD is working to repair the roads, but rather to preserve them.
“I think it’s just maintenance,” Franklin said.
Franklin’s first day of school only added to his frustration of having to orchestrate his daily morning routine in accordance to the heavy traffic congestion that builds up on the one-lane overpass.
“(It’s) not just because of school, but because of work as well,” Franklin said. “I work five minutes away from my house and I have to leave 20 minutes before just to get to work on time.”
Franklin also voiced the need for better signage or some other way that he could be warned about what to expect from the Cloverdale project and any other construction zones that might affect him in the future.
“We have a lot of different ways that we notify the public about upcoming and current work,” Natalie Shaver, public information specialist at ACHD, said. “We notify people and businesses that live near and around an area where we are doing a construction project. We send letters to homeowners giving them details on what is happening (and) when that will be happening, with a link to that project page on our website.”
But as Franklin would prove, not everyone receives these letters.
“We also have (this information) on our website, which is a great thing for people who might not live in the area, but they might be driving through it a lot,” Shaver said. “We have Roadwork In The Area, or RITA. There is an interactive map, and then there’s a list and it tells you what the project is and how long you should expect that work to be happening.”
Shaver explained that RITA’s digital interface, or even social media, would be the best place for Boise State students to reference when planning their commutes.
“We also use social media (in) all forms,” Shaver said. “We typically do post the big ones on our Facebook page, and we use Nextdoor, as well.”
As for Franklin and other Boise State students, Rader offered reassurance that the construction will ultimately be worth the inconvenience.
“With this (Cloverdale) project, you know, the roadway is open to a higher capacity,” Rader said. “It can officially move more vehicles. So I would imagine that would have a positive impact on (student’s) commute time.”
Rader’s analysis not only applies to the work being done at the Cloverdale overpass, but for all other construction and roadwork projects happening in the greater Boise area.
The goal of ACHD and ITD is to upgrade and expand upon the roadway systems in order to subsequently limit congestion, allow for better commute times and to ultimately improve the safety of our streets.