We've been hearing rumblings from the community recently about flaggers stationed at intersections on US 95 to help pedestrians through the maze of construction. Apparently some people think it is a waste of taxpayer money.
I checked with Idaho Transportation Department's Public Involvement Coordinator, Barbara Babic, who said this is a unique solution to a big challenge. During construction projects on busy roads in the past, ITD received serious complaints about ADA compliance. Pedestrians, and particularly people with handicaps, were having a hard time negotiating ramps and accessing the buttons that provide the 'walk' signal.
The project on 95 is a large inlay/overlay project that traverses many intersections. Design and construction engineers worked hard to come up with a solution to accommodate pedestrians and comply with ADA during construction. But building temporary ramps, detours, and re-aligning ped buttons was unrealistic from a schedule and cost perspective. Early estimates just to install the temporary accommodations were over $320,000.
Instead, ITD decided to use flaggers at the intersections to assist people across the road. Nine intersections are being flagged during the day for 5 weeks.
This solution cost less than half of installing temporary accomodations, at $135,000. At this time, ITD doesn't have numbers for how many people have used the flaggers but say it's a significant number, with a mall and school in the area. Several of those assists have been to help people in wheelchairs cross the road.