BY FREDA MIKLIN
Greenwood Village residents have long voiced concern to their elected officials about their frustration with increasing traffic in their city. In 2017 the former city council approved a $250,000 contract for a citywide Transportation Master Plan. Unlike previous transportation studies, conducting solely by traffic engineers, the consultants used for this project included experts in public outreach.
A primary focus of the study was to demonstrate that city residents’ input was sought through multiple public meetings and social media platforms. The study’s transportation goals were to identify strategies to deal with current and future traffic conditions.
One of the justifications for this study was that no citywide traffic study had been done since 1998 despite significant growth in the number of residents, non-residents, and employees using the city’s roads. That is true, however there were studies performed in both 2009 and 2011 of the I-25 corridor in Greenwood Village, which is the source of virtually all citizen traffic complaints. In both these studies, solutions to traffic challenges identified by engineers were rejected because city council made it clear that they would not implement them.
From the 2009 study
“Although the technical analysis recommends that these projects be completed to improve mobility and access in the study area, they are not included on the recommended list based on direction Village staff has received from current and/or past city council direction. Projects such as improvements to the Orchard Road and Quebec Street intersection and increasing traffic flow on Belleview Avenue east of Yosemite Street….”
The 2011 study contained similar conclusions:
“Orchard Road/Quebec Street – Improvements needed for intersection capacity are inconsistent with previous Council policy with respect to Orchard Road west of Quebec Street. It is Council policy not to improve the level of service at this intersection.
Orchard Road/Yosemite Street – Improvements needed for intersection capacity are inconsistent with previous council policy with respect to Yosemite Street south of Orchard Road and Orchard Road east of Yosemite Street. It is council policy not to improve the level of service at this intersection.”
Current city council members Dave Kerber and Jerry Presley were on city council in 2009 and 2011 when both previous studies of the I-25 corridor were done.
For the current project, consultants and city staff held open houses with numerous charts and graphs in March and again Nov. 29. A community working group was appointed by city council for residents to provide citizen input. Kerber is one of its members.
On Nov. 5, public works director Jeremy Hanak updated city council on the consultants’ work. He reported, to no one’s surprise that “There’s no single silver bullet that’s going to solve our transportation problem.” He said that GV residents continue to be concerned about the intersections of Belleview and I-25 and Orchard and I-25 (just as was reported on citizen surveys in 2014, 2012, 2010, etc.). Hanak told city council that residents were also unhappy with the amount of traffic on Belleview Avenue and westbound Orchard Road.
In his presentation, Hanak focused on the efforts of staff to get public input, noting visitors were asked about their traffic concerns at Greenwood Village Day in July and when attending concerts at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre.
Eventually addressing the heart of the problem, Hanak said, “We can’t continue to provide solutions to just make it easier for people to drive alone.” He said that residents had expressed a desire for options and choices in transportation and that most report rarely using light rail, but said they would if there were better, safer connections to light rail stations and more parking available there. Citizens, he said, also expressed a desire to use their bicycles more.
In complete contrast, city council is poised to pass changes to its citywide comprehensive plan that include removing from its transportation goals, “Encourage implementation of mass transit systems and other alternatives to single occupant vehicles.”
During the Nov. 5 discussion, council member Anne Ingebretsen relayed concerns to Hanak that she had received from members of the community working group that, “there’s obviously some frustration that they feel that the consulting engagement is sort-of generic in structure…We’ve got a significant investment in this. Are you comfortable that the people we’ve engaged are very focused on GV specifically and that we’re not getting 75 percent boiler plate….?” Hanak said that there had been some miscommunication about the expectations of the working group, who were apparently told that “we were coming in with specific solutions,” when what the consultants actually planned to present were “six categories of strategies.” Still, he said that, in the end, the consultants would recommend actual solutions for GV. Not convinced, council member Judy Hilton said, “I want to echo what Anne is saying…(From) what I’ve seen…you could take any municipality and take their logo and their name and stick it on here and it would work.”
Many are waiting to see what the $250,000 investment of GV residents’ tax dollars and 18 months of staff time will produce in tangible actions by city council that will improve the traffic and transportation experience of city residents.
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