By KEITH ERICKSON
COEUR d’ALENE — For the thousands of motorists who use Northwest Boulevard every day and deal with incessant and often unnecessary red-light delays, relief is just around the corner.
Traffic signals along Coeur d’Alene’s busiest corridor will soon be synchronized to provide a smoother traffic flow, said Coeur d’Alene city engineer Chris Bosley.
City officials are working with the Idaho Transportation Department to take control of the signals between Lakewood Drive at Riverstone northward over the freeway to Golf Course Road near the Kroc Center.
“We’ve been in talks with ITD for years about taking those over,” Bosley said.
Engineers and IT officials from the city and ITD are meeting today to discuss logistics for transferring control of the signals to the city.
Bosley said he expects the transition to occur in late summer or early fall, alleviating delays on the busy boulevard, which sees an average of 32,000 vehicles per day, according to the transportation department.
Once the city takes ownership of the signals, the driving experience will be different, Bosley said.
“There won’t be so much of sitting in traffic asking yourself, ‘Why did I get stopped at this light when there’s no one coming in the other directions?’” he said.
To take control of the signals, the electrical components that activate the signals, currently under state jurisdiction, need to be brought into conformance with equipment used by the city.
“We feel the city can do a better job synching the traffic signals because it’s not one of (ITD’s) priorities,” Bosley said. “The transportation department just wants peace of mind that it won’t be detrimental to traffic when we take over.”
Bosley cautioned that even with the improved traffic flow, there will still be periods of lengthy delays on the heavily used arterial, particularly where it intersects with Ironwood Drive and Seltice Way near Kootenai Health.
“Traffic tends to get overwhelmed with shift change at the hospital because you’ve got 700 people coming and going at one time,” he said.
ITD spokeswoman Megan Sausser emphasized the importance of a cooperative effort to address traffic flows on Northwest Boulevard.
“There’s definitely a need for a partnership, and we’re looking forward to working with the city on an agreement that works for both parties,” Sausser said.