Two crosswalks may be added to Moscow’s busy south couplet intersection and another could be installed a couple hundred feet away on U.S. Highway 95/South Jackson Street.
Moscow Transportation Commission Chairman Michael Kyte said the commission recommended the city work with the Idaho Transportation Department to add the two crosswalks at the couplet — the Highway 95/State Highway 8 intersection on the south end of town, and examine the feasibility of a crosswalk on Highway 95/South Jackson Street between the couplet and College/Eighth streets.
The couplet includes a crosswalk on the north and east side of the intersection, but no crossing is present on the other two sides.
Kyte said the increased pedestrian traffic at the intersection in recent years spurred by the enormous Identity on Main apartment complex and the WWAMI Medical Education Program building at the southern entrance of the University of Idaho requires the extra pedestrian crossings.
“If you’re a driver, it’s easy to get through the intersection,” Kyte said. “If you’re a pedestrian, it’s not.”
Pedestrian signals would accompany the two crosswalks at the couplet, Kyte said. Acting Moscow Public Works Director Tyler Palmer said adding continuous sidewalk on the west side of South Main Street/Highway 95 between Sweet Avenue and the couplet has been discussed and could be incorporated as part of the couplet crosswalk additions.
Since all three potential crosswalks are in the Idaho Transportation Department right of way, the decision to install the crossings are ultimately up to the state agency, which could potentially pose a problem.
Palmer said the priority of a highway system is to move vehicles efficiently, especially those carrying goods. He said ensuring the safety of pedestrians accessing the intersection is important to the city.
“It does become a challenge as we try and balance that with one of the most busy intersections in town and ITD’s priorities of trying to keep traffic moving,” Palmer said.
The intersection is especially congested during evening commutes, he said.
“If we add time to the cycle accommodating the pedestrians, that’s where it can become a more difficult pill to swallow for (ITD) as it would increase congestion at that intersection,” Palmer said.
He said the proposed crosswalk between the couplet and College/Eighth streets, which Kyte said could help facilitate a safer crossing for those walking from the Gritman overflow parking lot and the university to the Gritman campus, has also been discussed with ITD.
Peter Mundt, Gritman’s director of community relations and marketing, said hospital officials have had a number of conversations with representatives from the city and ITD about safer pedestrian crossings from the overflow lot and from its parking lots on the east side of Washington Street to the Gritman campus.
He said hospital employees have been hit by cars while crossing Washington Street. Although crosswalks are present, Mundt said sometimes vehicles fail to stop and Gritman officials are interested in all available options that would provide the greatest safety benefits.
Palmer said discussions continue with Gritman and ITD about making the Washington Street crossings safer but no formal proposal has been brought forward.
The nearest crosswalk from the overflow lot is about 100 feet northwest at College/Eighth streets, but some skip the short walk to the crossing and choose to play Frogger on Highway 95/South Jackson Street.
Although there is no marked crosswalk between the overflow lot and the Gritman Medical Office Building on the corner, pedestrians are still legally allowed to cross since it is at an intersection, Palmer said.
Continuous sidewalk could also be added on the south side of Jackson Street from College Street to the couplet.
There is no timeline for when the crossings and two sidewalks could be added. Palmer said city staff will ask the city council for direction this summer, and if it approves the concept, further discussions will be had with ITD.
A pedestrian/bicycle underpass, similar to the new one at the Styner Avenue/Highway 8 intersection, has also been discussed on South Main Street/Highway 95 between the couplet and Sweet Avenue.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.