New route opens to Headquarters
A construction project that changes the way many ITD employees reach Headquarters welcomed motorists for the first time Thursday. Whitewater Park Boulevard officially opened after a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony at Idaho River Sports parking lot.
The five-lane road (two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane) creates a new route from Fairview Avenue to State Street. It creates more direct access to the ITD campus from the east and opens the area north of the Boise River, including the site of an old concrete plant, to urban development.
The project was first proposed in 1968. Construction was not planned until 2014, but economic conditions enabled the Ada County Highway District and the city of Boise to expedite the project.
Completion of the new route will open portions of the Boise and Garden City greenbelt north of the Boise River to development and creation of Esther Simplot Park.
ITD commuters now can turn left from Fairview onto the boulevard and follow the gentle, sweeping curves near the greenbelt, past the East Annex and into the main Headquarters parking lot. The route will remove much of the traffic that used 20-mile-per-hour Jordan Street to enter ITD from the east.
Construction required removal of some trees from ITD grounds next to Rose Street and a narrow strip of the “bullpen” that houses state vehicles.
ALTA Construction of Boise began the project under an Ada County Highway District contract in January. Cost is estimated to be $9.7 million, about half of which is for construction.
The project included rebuilding the intersection at State and 30th Street and restricts vehicles leaving the Icon Credit parking lot to right turns only.
A new pedestrian-activated light at the eastern entrance to ITD will help employees who typically cross the street on fitness walks safer access to adjacent neighborhoods. An expansive sidewalk that borders Whitewater Park Boulevard will provide a new option for ITD walkers and better access to the greenbelt.
Employees should use caution at the intersection until drivers become accustomed to the new traffic pattern. Contractors will continue to work on landscaping in the median and next to the boulevard in the immediate future.
“As part of ACHD’s original plan for 30th Street, the shift of traffic volume would allow 27th Street to be converted from a four-lane road with no bike lanes to a three-lane facility with cycling amenities,” according to project overview.
ACHD and the city of Boise established a cost-sharing agreement for the boulevard amenities, with the city sharing costs for items not directly related to the “essential transportation function” of the road.
“The city’s land-use vision, which will eventually be incorporated into the Boise Comprehensive Plan, will play out over a much longer period, moving ahead as properties are developed or redeveloped in the future.”