The City of Idaho Falls Public Works Department held a second public meeting this evening to present findings on the ongoing study of changes made to South Boulevard last year.
The meeting, held at the Maeck Education Center at Tautphaus Park, was in response to the city’s commitment to analyze and report on usage and safety data of South Boulevard, following changes made to striping along the roadway last year. A previous public meeting was held in June to obtain resident feedback on the project and the scope of the study.
Over the past year, Public Works staff set up cameras along South Boulevard and utilized traffic counters to get data on road usage. Speed studies and an analysis of accident numbers were also completed.
In addition to the public meetings, the city engaged in extensive public outreach on the project by creating an informational South Boulevard Project webpage, conducting multiple media interviews, posting information on the city’s social media pages, meeting with individual residents, and gathering citizen e-mails and letters.
“Our traffic analyses showed that there has definitely been a higher volume of bicycle traffic than we anticipated along South Boulevard over the last year,” said Idaho Falls Public Works Director Chris Fredericksen. “Based on all those studies, we are moving forward to make some additional changes to address the needs we found from our data.”
Previous changes included adding bicycle lanes and a center turn lane. In an effort to work within the space available and not encroach on sidewalks and trees, bicycle lanes were designed to just greater than the minimum acceptable standards and parking was eliminated along the roadway.
Based on the data obtained through the comprehensive analysis, the city is moving forward with additional changes to South Boulevard between 17th Street and Sunnyside Road, including widening the bicycle lanes as well as the northbound and southbound travel lanes using the existing width of the roadway. The center turn lane from Tautphaus Park north will be eliminated to accommodate widening of the other lanes. The striping changes will occur this fall when painting crews are refreshing striping on various other roadways throughout Idaho Falls.
“We are really grateful that residents are passionate about their community,” said Idaho Falls City Councilman Jim Freeman. “We hope people can appreciate all the efforts the city has undertaken to gather data and base decisions on what numbers show is needed.”
The original changes to South Boulevard came about as a result of previous studies including the Connecting our Community Plan that was done in conjunction with Bonneville County and the City of Ammon. That study indicated that adding facilities to accommodate bicycle capacity along South Boulevard was essential to the future of transit and connectivity throughout the greater Idaho Falls area.
“We committed to looking at the changes along South Boulevard over the past year and then coming back to the community to discuss those changes to determine how we move forward,” said Fredericksen. “We have to make sure that things run smoothly now while making plans to ensure that things continue to run well in the future. As we plan, it is essential to public safety that we continue to base our decisions on sound data and traffic engineering principles.”
For those who were unable to attend the meeting tonight, a link to the presentation will be posted at the bottom of the South Boulevard Project webpage for review.
Photo: City Engineer, Kent Fugal presenting at the Public Meeting at the Maeck Education Center at Tautphaus Park, Aug. 15, 2019.
Media Contact: Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon, (208) 612-8122, [email protected].
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