Have you driven Boise’s dogbone roundabout? The unique road has over 334k views on TikTok

·3 min read

Sometimes complex problems require a roundabout solution. At least, that’s the direction one Boise-based engineering consultancy firm went in 2008.

Take a look from above at the intersection just south of Hillside Junior High School in northwest Boise, and you’ll see something that’s not seen anywhere else in Boise: a dogbone roundabout. This specific type of design looks like two roundabouts that are connected by a narrow road and forces traffic to slow down at busy intersections while avoiding necessary stoppages that cause traffic jams.

The roundabout is aptly named as it somewhat resembles a cartoon dog bone but also looks similar to two cells splitting from one another.

Although a roundabout may not seem exciting, the bizarrely shaped intersection has earned over 334,000 views on TikTok. Dogbone roundabouts are relatively rare, with the Ada County Highway District claiming that similar roundabouts only exist in Towson, Maryland, and throughout Australia. There is also a dogbone roundabout in Carmel, Indiana, where the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recorded that injury crashes dropped by 84% following its installation.

Kittelson & Associates, the engineering consultancy firm that helped design the roundabout, posted a video explaining the history of the roundabout on the company’s TikTok last month.

Boise’s dogbone roundabout was constructed in 2016 to improve safety around Hillside Junior High School. Before the roundabout, a three-road intersection consisting of 36th Street, Hill Road and Catalpa Drive produced congestion and lines of traffic as far back as a mile during school drop-off and pickup times, according to the TikTok video.

“I grew up right near there in the ‘90s. Can confirm, that intersection used to be pretty scary. Much better now,” TikTok user Mark Doubleday commented under the video.

Former Hillside Junior High principal Dr. Randy Lance told the Idaho Statesman that, although the roundabout was already in place when he arrived at the school, it’s been a major factor in helping drivers have continuous movement with little stopping. A Boise School District spokesperson also told the Statesman that Hillside leadership has told the district that the roundabout has improved traffic flow and safety around the school.

“With the roundabout on the parent drop-off side of Hillside, (it) is extremely effective in getting parents and students to and from Hillside,” Lance said. “With over half of the students being dropped off and picked up daily, the flow of traffic is continuous with little, if any, stopping.”

Lance said that it only takes about six to seven minutes to get the 300-plus students who get picked up off campus thanks to the roundabout.

A regular circular roundabout around 240 feet in diameter was proposed in 2005, but in 2008 the dogbone roundabout was chosen to minimize impacts on existing properties and structures. The roundabout offers easy access to nearby Hillside Junior High, Quail Hollow Golf Course and several businesses.

A regular roundabout was proposed in 2005 but had a major impact on surrounding businesses and structures.
A regular roundabout was proposed in 2005 but had a major impact on surrounding businesses and structures.

Former ACHD commissioner Paul Woods told the Idaho Statesman in 2016 that building the roundabout was “especially complex” due to utility relocation issues. The project cost about $3.2 million, according to previous Statesman reporting. The dogbone design helped circumnavigate many of the relocation issues, according to the TikTok video, and approximately halved the cost of the project.

Kittleson worked with ACHD to design the roundabout and created the preliminary design with the ability to expand the roundabout in the future if needed. Potential improvements include pedestrian and bicycle treatments to address possible safety concerns in the future.

“Constructed in 2016, Boise’s only dogbone roundabout has effectively reduced the long lines of cars down to only a few cars at a time,” the video narrator states.

Many local TikTok users commented that they were impressed by the app’s roundabout video, with one user saying they “love it so much” and another calling it a “clever design.”

The dogbone roundabout provides access to Hillside Junior High School, Quail Hollow Golf Course and local businesses.
The dogbone roundabout provides access to Hillside Junior High School, Quail Hollow Golf Course and local businesses.
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