Boise, Idaho: smarter, better transportation management

The city deploys new technology to help manage traffic, winter roads

February 01, 2012

Boise, Idaho, is taking serious steps toward new technologies to help manage transportation, according to

The new game-changers will include traffic signals that spot large groups of vehicles and tweak a road’s signals to speed the traffic glut through.

An example of this kind of fix is adaptive signal technology, the next-generation of signal timing software and hardware that the Ada County Highway District (ACDH) hopes to acquire this year and deploy in 2013. These “smart signals” constantly monitor traffic flow along major roads and adjust the amount of green-light time to best serve the demand.

The technology differs from the existing signal timing because it will deviate from pre-set timing programs––which are calibrated for standard traffic volumes during specific days and times––and make adjustments to better move large groups of vehicles.

All told, this is estimated to cost $600,000.

New technology is also helping ACHD target the application of deicer, sand and salt to fight slippery pavement this winter. New weather monitoring stations and software will measure pavement-level temperature and the presence of ice and water, allowing ACHD to better deploy its Winter Street Service crews.

The system, which cost $125,000, was put into service this winter and is being used and refined this month.

Similarly, ACHD hopes its new pavement management system will do a better job of targeting when pavement receives a crack seal, a chipseal or a rebuild.

Faced with an ever-expanding system of 2,200 miles of local roads, the district needs to become more selective in how it approaches maintenance of the asphalt, said Paul Daigle, deputy director of maintenance. The answer has been the Street Saver system, which will track the condition of the roads and indentify stretches in need of attention, he said.

“We want to be more efficient and apply the best treatment at the proper time,” Daigle said. “We can continue to keep our roads in great shape by targeting the needed treatment. Instead of overkill, we’re going to do what is required, saving tax dollars.”

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