Friday, September 28, 2012

Woodside Boulevard nearing completion

Roundabout runs smoothly, sidewalks praised

Express Staff Writer

Drivers on Fox Acres road navigate a new roundabout.

A $5.26 million Woodside Boulevard reconstruction project in south Hailey is nearing completion. Final paving of the south end of Woodside Boulevard is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 1, through Friday, Oct. 5. Landscaping of planting strips between sidewalks and the street will begin next spring.

The budget for the project includes a $3.5 million federal grant, which required the city to include bike paths and sidewalks.

North Woodside subdivision residents are already using the new sidewalks.

“I think this is great,” said Kenna Stoops, who pushed a stroller bearing her two small children near Fox Acres Road on Wednesday afternoon. “To go to Deerfield Park or to the (Blaine County Recreation District) swimming pool used to be just crazy. People drive so fast. Now you don’t have to worry about someone running you down.”

Students and staff at Wood River High School and the Community Campus are now driving through a roundabout at the intersection of Fox Acres Road and Woodside Boulevard. Traffic merges into a curve through the roundabout during rush hours, and motorists are no longer hindered by the need to come to a complete stop.

“I have gotten multiple positive comments about the roundabout. It seems to be performing quite well and people seem to like it,” said Public Works Director Tom Hellen, who first pitched the idea a few years ago.

Hailey police Officer Steve England said three people have complained at City Hall about young drivers using the roundabout as a racetrack, since there are no posted rules stating when one must exit the circular traffic feature.

“We’ve monitored it,” England said. “Especially after football games. It runs very smoothly from what I’ve seen. As long as people are careful when entering it, there shouldn’t be any issues.” 

England said he has discouraged skateboarders from hanging out on the broad concrete paths around the center of the roundabout, since there are no crosswalks to the paths from the surrounding sidewalks. 

The boulevard reconstruction, scheduled for completion next week, also includes eight new bus shelters, several traffic pullouts, a stack of mailboxes and a traffic light at the corner of Woodside Boulevard and state Highway 75. 

The project has taken all summer to complete and caused many Hailey residents to take detours, and suffer through dusty days with the noise of heavy equipment. But those days are soon to end.

“We appreciate the support we’ve had from residents in this area,” said project manager Rob Cunningham. “We realize this job has been a disruption for many weeks. When Knife River (construction company) is done, Woodside Boulevard will be a much safer traveling artery for drivers and pedestrians.”

Tony Evans:

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