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Monthly Articles

January

Public Open House Recap

Thank you to those that attended our public open house on January 23! We had great conversations with many of you regarding the Safety Action Plan and your thoughts on local roadway and transportation safety. Here are some of the themes of transportation safety that we heard at the open house:

  • Bicyclists: concerns with bike/vehicle conflict points at trail crossings and sight distance at intersections

  • Speeding: concerns with vehicles speeding on local roads and the need for speed management and traffic calming measures

  • Pedestrians: desire for more crossings and safer crossings, specifically across State Highway 75; need for better lighting at pedestrian crossings and transit stops

  • Intersections: desire to improve sight distance at intersections and to slow cars down

 

Even if you missed the January open house, you still have opportunities to share your thoughts on transportation safety! If you haven’t already, please take the online survey (see details below).

Also, mark your calendars for April 20 when our project team will be in attendance at the Blaine County Earth Fest event to present additional findings and specific safety improvement recommendations for you to review and comment on. We look forward to seeing you then!

Online Survey

We have been very pleased with the response we have received on our online survey. We have received over 300 total comments between the general and location-based surveys, so thank you again for your participation! We will keep this survey open until February 23, so please take the survey if you haven’t already, using the link below.

 

Survey Link: https://arcg.is/1L00OK

 

In our next article, we will present some of the high-level findings of the survey for you to review.

Roadway Safety vs. Congestion

As we’ve started this plan process, we have had several conversations with individuals about the congestion that is experienced in the County during peak times of day and how that relates to safety. We have also been asked what improvements we will be recommending to mitigate congestion. The purpose of this Safety Action Plan is to look at improvements to roadway safety, and not improvements of roadway capacity or congestion mitigation. The Safety Action Plan will include recommendations to improve safety at intersections, roadway segments, and active transportation crossings. Some of these recommendations may have impacts to roadway capacity, but the recommendations will not be made based on capacity issues. Roadway capacity and congestion is typically evaluated in a Transportation Plan. Blaine County’s latest published Transportation Plan can be found on the County website.

 

While the focus of this plan is safety, the project team understands the relationship between safety and congestion on a roadway system and will take this into account in the plan. In general, the number of crashes (“crash frequency”) increase on roadways as traffic volumes increase. The crash rate, meaning the number of crashes per number of vehicles on the roadway, stays relatively constant as volumes increase. This is why emphasis is placed on crash rates in roadway safety analysis instead of crash frequency. Typical crash rates that will be used in this Safety Action Plan include “crashes per 100 million vehicle miles travelled (VMT)” for roadway segments and “crashes per million entering vehicles (MEV)” for intersections.

 

Beyond the general relationship between traffic volumes and crash numbers, congestion can also have negative impacts on safety at specific locations. These are locations we hope to identify in the plan for potential improvements. For example, a congested roadway with long queues of cars can result in sight distance issues for vehicles turning from the side streets. Even when gaps are left within the queues for these vehicles to turn, the drivers may not be able to see the vehicles coming the other direction on the road.

 

There may also be cases in the recommended safety improvements that will result in higher capacity on roadways. For example, the addition of turn pockets or turn lanes at an access or intersection is a safety improvement, as it gets turning vehicles out of the through travel lanes, reducing the risk for front-to-rear crashes at the intersection. However, this also provides a capacity benefit by adding lanes at the intersection.

 

In summary, while the focus of this Safety Action Plan is on safety improvements, our project team will be considering the components of traffic volumes and congestion in the selection of projects.

Next Steps

The following are the next tasks that we will be completing in the coming weeks:

  • Analysis of historical crash data including crash rates at each intersection and roadway segment

  • Identification of crash trends by roadway and facility types

  • Review of all survey data and comparing specific comment locations to high crash rate locations

  • Preliminary discussions on potential safety improvements for high crash and comment locations

 

Thank you for your interest in this Safety Action Plan. Feel free to reach out to our project team at any time via the project page message feature if you have additional comments to share.

December

Introduction

There is a need to evaluate transportation safety from a multi-modal perspective within Blaine County. With the County seeing significant increases in traffic volumes on County roadways and State Highways 20 and 75, the safety of all road users including pedestrians and cyclists needs to be evaluated. Our project team of Hales Engineering, Opal Engineering, and CLPE are excited for the opportunity to help the County with this safety planning, with the primary goal of reducing transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries through a Safe System Approach.

 

Below is a summary of the recorded roadway crashes in Blaine County between 2018 and 2022. At a high-level, some of the common crash characteristics include aggressive driving, crashes involving wild animals, and distracted driving. The main focus of this plan will be on finding ways to eliminate the fatal and serious injury crashes in the County.

Crash Facts.png

Project Purpose and Goals

Blaine County has received federal funding as part of the Safe Streets for All (SS4A) program to complete this Safety Action Plan (SAP). The purpose of this plan is to improve roadway safety for all road users in Blaine County and the Cities of Bellevue, Carey, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. These users include pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, motorists, personal conveyance and micro mobility users, and commercial vehicle operators. The end goal of this plan and subsequent safety improvements will be zero fatalities and serious injuries on roadways.

 

The project team’s goals are to engage with the public to understand local safety concerns and observations, use a data-driven process to identify safety issues and countermeasures, and develop an implementable plan that meets the criteria for SS4A funding.

 

Upcoming Events

While our project team includes several roadway safety, analysis, and design experts, we know that the residents of Blaine County are local experts in their own right as far as knowing the local safety issues. We need your help as we complete this plan! Your input will be valuable so that our project team knows what areas to focus on in the County. We’d like to know about the intersections, roadway segments, and areas where you have seen safety issues including crashes, near-misses, sight distance issues, high vehicle travel speeds, and unsafe pedestrian/cyclist conditions.

 

The following are the upcoming public engagement opportunities that we have to hear your input:

 

Online Survey

December 20 - February 23

Provide input to the project team regarding your transportation safety concerns.

 

Public Open House

January 23, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Hailey City Hall, Council Chambers

Discuss your transportation safety concerns with the project team and provide input for the plan.

 

Our project team will take the input provided from the online survey and public open house and, after a data-driven crash analysis, will identify safety improvement projects to be implemented in coming years in Blaine County. We will then seek additional public input in approximately April 2024, where you will be able to provide feedback on the proposed plan.

 

 

We look forward to working with you all on this plan!

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