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Road Work to Impact Traffic in the Fort Boise/St. Luke’s Area

By Anita Kissee, News and Community
July 7, 2017

St. Luke’s Health System, in conjunction with ACHD and the City of Boise, will close Reserve Street Sunday evening, July 9, in order to begin significant road construction around the downtown Boise hospital campus. The work is to prepare the area for a development project that will modernize the hospital to improve access and care, while providing improved transportation flow.

“Not only will the end result be less congestion for people traveling around the hospital,” said St. Luke’s Boise administrator Dave McFadyen, “but it will make it easier for those patients who are coming to St. Luke’s for care, and for our ambulance and paramedic partners who will have quicker access to our Emergency Department.”

The first phase of work centers on improvements to public roads and infrastructure in a 12-block area around the hospital. The goal is to better link the area with Boise’s downtown urban core. 

Major aspects of this phase include:

  • Construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of E. Fort and Reserve streets, which will be the first two-lane roundabout in Idaho.
  • Construction of a dedicated cycle track around the St. Luke’s perimeter.
  • Realigning and improving the intersection of 1st, Fort and State streets.
  • Creating a dedicated right turn from north-bound Avenue B on to East Jefferson.
  • Installing bigger sidewalks and bike lanes around the campus perimeter where space allows.

During this work, road construction crews will be concentrated:

  • Throughout Ave B, E. Fort, W. Fort, State and Reserve streets.
  • Additional crews may be working on Idaho Street as crew availability permits.

Starting Sunday evening, Central Paving will:

  • Set-up detours
  • Close Reserve Street
  • Begin restriping traffic lanes
  • Install temporary traffic signals:
    • At the intersection of 1st, State and Fort streets
    • On Avenue B and East Jefferson Street
  • Shift traffic and reduce lanes in certain areas.

Drivers should be prepared that traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Avenue B and Fort streets, beginning at Bannock and continuing through 2nd Street. Reserve will be closed at Ave H and detoured traffic moved to Warm Springs. Reserve is expected to remain closed through October 2017.  The posted detour for the Reserve Street closure is: Ave H to McKinley Street, to Straughan Street, to Warm Springs.

The two temporary traffic signals are sequential, and will only allow traffic to flow in one direction at a time, likely resulting in traffic back-ups. Travelers should add a few extra minutes to their commutes or find alternative and detour routes to avoid delays. St. Luke’s patients, visitors and staff are encouraged to stay south of the hospital and use the entrances off Idaho and Bannock.

Transportation Improvements

Improvements along the perimeter of the campus also include constructing the cycle track, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. At some point during the project, parking will not be allowed on 2nd or State streets in order for two lanes of traffic to remain open. On Idaho Street, traffic will be moved down to one lane. Sidewalk detours will be coordinated in advance to minimize pedestrian impacts. To ensure access for pedestrians and cyclists, they will be moved to the opposite side of the street from where work is occurring.

Due to those sidewalk and cycle track improvements and as considered at public hearings, trees in this area are being removed. St. Luke’s is contractually obligated to replace removed trees using the city forester’s valuation and ACHD right-of-way rules. The tree removal is the result of three specific transportation projects the City of Boise, ACHD and the community requested of St. Luke’s:

  • Increased intersection capacity.
  • City Modal Elements: the cycle track and other amenities requested by the city.
  • Fort Boise Master Plan – Reserve and Fort / Fort and Robbins roundabouts.

Contractors are working under U.S. Fish and Wildlife guidelines not to disturb nesting birds through the July 15 nesting period. If an active nest is found with eggs or chicks, the tree is left in place. None have been found to date.

St. Luke’s is working closely with the city forester to plant 90 new trees in the cycle track median, in exchange for the 64 removed. St. Luke’s will ensure sensitive and appropriate choices are made for the restoration of the tree canopy throughout this portion of the plan. St. Luke’s intends to plant trees that are more valuable than required under city code, and has agreed to incur this expense, even though the work requiring the majority of removals is directed by the three-party agreement.  

An example of the replacement trees six to eight years after planting

Work in this area will last at least through early next year, depending on the weather. Because of the fluid nature of this type of project, timelines will be adjusted. When changes impact drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, patients, staff and the neighborhoods, St. Luke’s will communicate the information in a timely manner. Monthly community meetings with St. Luke’s, the City and ACHD will be held on the second Wednesday of each month.  The first meeting is:

Wednesday, July 12 at 6 p.m.
Fort Boise Senior Center – 690 N. Robbins Road

Drivers are also encouraged to reduce speeds in anticipation of increased activity. Construction crews urge people to please be patient and attentive while driving through the project area as conditions regularly change.  Travelers are reminded that they are part of the safety plan and are urged to do their part to help the men and women who are working to stay safe. 

Once Central Paving completes its contract for this phase of work, the second major phase will likely start next construction season and concentrate on the new roundabout at Fort, Robbins and 3rd streets.  Jefferson Street cannot be closed until the first phase of improvements and the Bannock Plaza redesign are complete, which is anticipated to be next summer. 

Old and New Routes

Map Showing Current and Future Road Alignment

The work is part of St. Luke’s Master Plan for its Boise campus and is the result of years of extensive study, planning and collaboration with key stakeholders, including the City of Boise, the Ada County Highway District and area residents. The thorough process included dozens of workshops, open houses and neighborhood association meetings, which helped to shape and evolve the plan through thoughtful input.

Map Showing Current and Future Road Alignment

This is not a “single project,” but a multi-phased plan that will occur in stages over the years to come. At its core is our commitment to create an environment in which we can provide the best possible care for patients and families, in an environment geared toward safety, healing and comfort. 

“We are happy this is finally moving forward because this development allows us to better meet the needs of our patients by providing modern, advanced care in a more user-friendly setting,” said McFadyen.  “While this development does add capacity, it's less about growth and more about re-configuring our campus.  It will be easier to navigate and find your doctor.  There’s more room to care for our growing, aging community struggling with more complex chronic health problems.  Our physicians will be right there ready to help in an emergency rather than a few blocks away, and our facility will be upgraded in a way that it flows better, saving precious minutes in emergencies, when time truly matters.”

St. Luke's Master Plan Project Map

Projects:

  • New Children’s Pavilion (under construction)
  • New central plant
  • New parking structure
  • New hospital tower
  • Expand and modernize St. Luke’s MSTI cancer center
  • Expand and modernize St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital
  • Expand and upgrade the current hospital tower

Together, the project will be one of the largest investments ever made in Boise and Idaho. It will bring new jobs to the region while building on Boise’s growing reputation as one of the most livable cities in the country with the high-quality health care that is a critical component of quality of life. The project will be financed through bonds, cash on hand and community philanthropy. This major development project is estimated to bring as much as $1.2 billion of rollover economic benefit and job growth to the community.

Proposed Rendering

Proposed Rendering of the new St. Luke's Boise Hospital Entrance at First, State and Fort Streets

About The Author

Anita Kisseé is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.