After 40% Drop, Idaho Traffic Volumes Increasing
Traffic volumes plummeted in mid-March as the coronavirus hit Idaho and many people began staying and working at home. But as restrictions are about to be loosened, the number of cars on Idaho roads is creeping back up.
Four days after Governor Brad Little issued the stay-at-home order, traffic volumes in Idaho’s metro areas bottomed out about 40% below normal. That’s according to data from about 200 vehicle trackers across the state run by the Idaho Transportation Department. Jake Melder is an ITD spokesperson.
"We’re starting to see about a 20% increase back up, so we’re now down only a 20% from the baseline instead of about 40%” Melder said Wednesday.
So far, The Coeur D’Alene metro area has rebounded the most, up 22% since the low on March 30. Data show drivers in the Treasure Valley stayed home sooner than other parts of the state, and have been slower to retake the roads, but volume in Ada and Canyon counties is still back up about 15%.
The data isn’t perfect. Vehicle tracking doesn’t know if an increase means more drivers, or some drivers making twice as many trips. But the data does indicate trends. It also indicates a potential budget shortfall. ITD is funded by gas taxes and car registration fees. Fewer trips to the pump could mean fewer dollars to go around for road maintenance and construction across Idaho in the years to come.
Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.
Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio
Member support is what makes local COVID-19 reporting possible. Support this coverage here.