BLACKFOOT — Pedestrian safety was a major concern expressed Wednesday morning as the possibility of at least temporarily turning off the traffic signal at the intersection of Judicial and Broadway was discussed by Blackfoot’s transportation commission.
Corey Krantz, a traffic engineer for the Idaho Transportation Department in District 5, told the panel that ITD has recommended that the span wire signal at Broadway between Judicial be reviewed to determine if it is still warranted, and data he has reviewed on traffic volume in that area indicates that the signal is not warranted.
Krantz said traffic volume through the intersection is around 349 vehicles from 11 a.m. to noon, with the highest being 627 vehicles through a nearly two-hour time frame from late afternoon to early evening.
“We’re not anywhere close to warranting a signal there,” he said.
“We’d like to bag the (signals) and give it a try for a couple of months,” putting a stop sign in place to control northbound traffic at Broadway where it turns into a one-way street at Judicial.
The city modified the traffic pattern at Judicial and Broadway in the summer of 2017 with Broadway traffic south of Judicial still being a two-way street. Krantz said the new traffic pattern has been successfully tested and local stakeholders have accepted it, with commission members saying they want to keep it that way.
But pedestrian traffic at the Broadway-Judicial intersection remains a big concern.
Krantz said there would be a training issue to make sure people are safe walking through the intersection, and that traffic is required to yield to pedestrians whether intersections are marked or unmarked.
He said patrolling may need to be increased to make sure drivers through the intersection yield to pedestrians to help spread the word.
The only way pedestrians would be liable themselves would be if there was “no pedestrian” signage there, Krantz added.
“We need to make sure we protect pedestrians, that’s my biggest concern,” said Blackfoot Police Capt. Scott Gay.
Traffic commission chair Carrie Hasselbring said she has noticed more traffic through that area than the city has had before. She suggested four members of the committee go out and walk the intersection to get a feel for any effects on pedestrians, saying she also had concerns for pedestrians.
A beacon system was also suggested for the crosswalk at the intersection, similar to the one for the crosswalk on Bridge Street taking pedestrians to and from the Blackfoot Movie Mill.
When asked about a possible time frame for the trial run, Krantz said they could do it possibly as early as this summer or as late as 2021, with a trial period of 60-90 days.
Krantz said the ITD is in the design process to upgrade traffic signals throughout the Blackfoot area, which would include upgrading signal cabinets and controllers, installing fiber optic cable to the signal cabinets for communication purposes, and some select signal equipment upgrades such as signal poles and pedestrian signal head countdowns.