US-20 — Ashton to SH-87

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Welcome

Welcome — Your Input is Important!

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is initiating a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) process to look at ways to improve the US-20 corridor between Ashton and the SH-87 Junction. Increasing traffic is causing congestion and crashes. Improvements are needed to maintain a safe roadway and reliable connections to adjacent communities, Yellowstone National Park, and the region.

The purpose of the meeting is to share alternatives developed as part of the PEL process. The project team is seeking your input on alternatives you think best improve safety and traffic flow in this area.

Map of the project area highlighted. Project beginning near Ashton and Ending at SH-87.

Click image to enlarge

How to Navigate:

  • Click on the arrows on the bottom left and right side of your screen
  • Use the navigation menu at the left of the screen to revisit any part of the meeting
  • The pages are intended to be viewed in order to provide information about the study. However, you may use the tabs on the left side of the page to select any page

How to Participate:

  • Click through the slides to learn more about the project
  • Comments
    • Provide your comments at any time by clicking the “ COMMENT" button at the top right of the screen.
    • You can close the form to continue through the slides. Please make sure to hit the “Submit” button to confirm that your comment is sent to the project team.
  • The entire session should take less than 15 minutes to complete.

Project Background

Increasing traffic is causing congestion and crashes. Improvements are needed to maintain a safe roadway and reliable connection to adjacent communities, Yellowstone National Park and the region.

With growth in traffic and tourism, it is time for ITD to find a solution to address safety and capacity concerns. ITD must find a solution that will handle increased traffic, meet driver expectations, and improve safety.

Benefits of the Alternatives

The PEL Team, using public input and technical and environmental data, has developed and screened alternatives that:

Add Lanes icon Add lanes in each direction and change access control
Intersection icon Address challenging intersections or approaches where traffic turns onto or crosses the highway
Wildlife icon Look at opportunities to improve wildlife movement across the highway

Benefits of Alternatives

Based on public input, 56 alternatives were developed. Level 1 screening occurred in winter 2021 and Level 2 screening occurred in early spring 2022. The next slide, Alternatives, describes each alternative and its screening results.

What US-20 could look like in the future

Much of existing US-20 currently meets the minimum standards for traffic operations. However, as traffic volumes increase, parts of US-20 will drop below these standards. In the horizon year of 2050, most segments will not meet the minimum standards for traffic operations without increasing the number of lanes. Improving the highway to a four-lane configuration will bring the traffic operation up to, or above, the recommended minimum standards for most segments. These illustrations depict what US-20 could look like in the future.

Download a copy of the handout given at the in-person meeting. Alternatives in the handout with an asterisk (*) are not shown on the next slide, Alternatives. These were variations of the alternatives with lanes shifted.

Benefits of the Alternatives

The PEL Team, using public input and technical and environmental data, has developed and screened alternatives that:

Add Lanes icon Add lanes in each direction and change access control
Intersection icon Address challenging intersections or approaches where traffic turns onto or crosses the highway
Wildlife icon Look at opportunities to improve wildlife movement across the highway

Click image to enlarge

Alternatives

Determined that alternative does merit further refinement and study

Determined that alternative does not merit further refinement and study

Level 1: Ashton Area

Level 2: Ashton Area

Study Area 1: Ashton
Alternative General Location Description of Alternative Screening Result
Level 1 Screening
SA1-A1 Ashton Study Area (SA) 1 on alignment Advances Alternative continues and should be paired with Chester to Ashton alternatives (potentially from the light to the bridge as a five-lane roadway).
SA1-B1 Ashton Northbound through Ashton; southbound west of Ashton with no interchange west of Ashton Does Not Advance Alternative does not continue with concerns of safety and lack of mobility improvement. Emergency services response capabilities are a safety concern.
SA1-C1 Ashton Realignment west of Ashton with an interchange at SH-47 Advances Merits further study.
SA1-C2 Ashton Realignment far west of Ashton Does Not Advance Alternative has extensive impacts and requires a lot of out-of-the-way travel.
SA1-C3 Ashton Realignment to the east of Ashton Does Not Advance Alternative has extensive impacts and requires a lot of out-of-the-way travel.
SA1-C4 Ashton Northbound and southbound realignment west of Ashton; no interchange west of Ashton; alignment moves US-20 to the east after the Henry's Fork Bridge Advances Merits further study.
Level 2 Screening
SA1-A1 Ashton Study Area (SA) 1 on alignment Advances Merits further advancement if it can meet needs for access and safety; needs additional frontage road and access details.
SA1-C1 Ashton Realignment west of Ashton with an interchange at SH-47 Advances Has potential to addresses capacity, safety, access management, and freight needs.
SA1-C4 Ashton Northbound and southbound alignment west of Ashton; add interchange west of Ashton; alignment moves US-20 to the east near the Henry's Fork Bridge Advances Has potential to addresses capacity, safety, access management, and freight needs.

Click images to enlarge

Access Management

What is Access Management?

Access Management reduces conflict points to promote safety and mobility and has been proven to:

  • Reduce the number and severity of crashes, reducing cost
  • Reduce congestion
  • Improve travel times
  • Support bicyclist and pedestrian safety

Increased Safety

Research by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other agencies in the last 50 years has consistently shown that Access Management increases roadway safety.

What Access Management Studies Show

  • It decreases the number of access points on a roadway reducing the crash rate
  • Roads with medians are safer than undivided roads, or roads with two-way left-turn lanes
  • It is safer for vehicles to make a U-turn and a right turn, than to make a direct left turn into or from a driveway

Multi-Use Crossings

ITD is evaluating opportunities throughout the corridor to provide safe crossings on US-20 for wildlife, sportsman, recreational and local traffic. ITD is analyzing movement and migration information and maps for mule deer, elk and pronghorn shared by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to identify areas of opportunity for wildlife passage design features.

Additionally, the United States Forest Service (USFS) and IDFG have shared information and maps about grizzly bear movements around and across US 20. ITD will continue to work with partner agencies for technical assistance pertaining to wildlife information during the PEL process.

Underpass

Sportsman/Recreational

Jump-Out Exit

Ecopassage

About the PEL

What is the US-20 Ashton to SH-87 JCT PEL?

ITD initiated the PEL process to analyze US-20 between Ashton and the SH-87 Junction and will look at ways to improve safety and reduce congestion.

Increasing traffic is causing congestion and crashes. Improvements are needed to maintain a safe roadway and reliable connection to adjacent communities, Yellowstone National Park, and the region.

The US-20 Ashton to SH-87 Junction PEL is separate project from the Targhee Pass Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA was completed and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued in late 2020. Decisions made as part of the EA will not be revisited during the Ashton to ID-87 Junction PEL project.

What is involved in the PEL Process?

Watch this video to learn more about the steps that take place during a PEL process.

Purpose, Needs and Goals

DRAFT Project Purpose and Need

The Ashton to SH-87 Junction section of US-20 was originally built in the 1950s. The current roadway does not provide sufficient traffic flow or passing opportunities to accommodate growing traffic volumes. The roadway has exceeded its service life and requires improvements to roadway and drainage features. Reconstruction will provide the opportunity to include design elements that reduce the severity and frequency of crashes.

Purpose

The purpose of the US-20 Ashton to SH-87 Junction project is to enhance highway safety and operations by:

  • Improving capacity and Level of Service
  • Improving access management
  • Improving regional freight movement
  • Decrease severe crashes

Need

The need for improvements to the US-20 corridor is to:

  • Address existing deficiencies such as:
    • Travel time
    • Congestion
    • Delays
    • Safety
  • Prepare for future growth, economic development and tourism in the region
  • Increase freight mobility

Goal

When consulting with the public and resource agencies, ITD identified additional goals to be considered as the project is developed:

  • Integrate wildlife movement strategies in the corridor
  • Provide traffic calming measures or separation where the US-20 alignment runs through developed areas
  • Provide multiuse solutions that provide a range of options for recreational users

How does US-20 function now?

Increasing congestion is contributing to traffic crashes in the area.

Here’s what the traffic data says:

20-year traffic volume from 2002 to 2021. According to the graphic, July has the highest traffic volume increase from 6,038 vehicles in 2002, to 10,534 vehicles in 2021
Heat map of crashes along project area corridor with densest areas at the SH-47 intersection and the Federal Hill area.

Click image to enlarge

Where are we in the process?

Project schedule: We are at Public Meeting 1 in Fall 2021. The PEL process and Alternatives Development will continue through summer 2022. Alternatives Screenings 1 and 2 are scheduled for winter 2022 along with the second public meeting. Alternatives screening 3 is sheduled at the end of winter 2022. Public meeting 3 is scheduled for mid-spring 2022 along with PEL completion starting then through summer. Potential priorit improvement projects may happen through spring and summer 2022.

Click image to enlarge

Stay Involved

Please share ideas about the project. Public input will be an important part of the decision-making process along with technical information and engineering best-practices.

Comments

If you have questions please contact the project team.

Use the comment button at the top right of this meeting to view the comment form where you can submit comments. You can also submit comments via email to comments@us20ashtonto87.com
or mail them to:


ITD
206 N. Yellowstone Highway
Rigby, ID 83442


While your comments are always welcome, they can be best utilized if received by June 9, 2022.

Comment
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While your comments are always welcome, they can be best utilized if received by June 9, 2022.