BY FREDA MIKLIN
As Greenwood Village winds down its 18-month $250,000 transportation study, its consultants held one more two-hour public input meeting Nov. 29 at city hall. Besides city staff and paid consultants, around 20 people attended.
The draft of the Greenwood Village Transportation Master Plan contains 23 proposed roadway infrastructure improvements, some short-term, some long-term that range from the general (e.g., at Belleview Avenue and Dayton Street, “Provide pedestrian safety improvements”) to the very specific (e.g., at Orchard Road and Quebec Street, “add dedicated southbound right turn lane”). It contains many excellent strategies that city council will now review, then choose whether to approve and fund. Several are simple projects that could tangibly improve traffic flow and thus residents’ experience driving in the city. Some are long-term strategies. Public works manager Jeremy Hanak mentioned the right-turn lane added to northbound Holly Street at Belleview Avenue in the summer of 2017 as an example of a quality-of-life project that makes it easier for residents to get around.
What GV cannot do on its own, is address the most significant underlying problems that contribute to the difficulty residents have getting to and from their homes on a daily basis.
Betty Thompson, who lives on Gaylord Way in western GV, asked what the city was planning in terms of transportation to help seniors get around. She was told there are no current plans for seniors. Jim Skagen, who lives in the Preserve, suggested city staff look into a two-way left turn lane on Belleview between University and Holly. Cary and Mindy Berman came to alert traffic engineers that it is still extremely dangerous to cross Belleview Avenue at Dayton Street, even though there is now a red-light camera in place.
Mindy Berman, who walks her dog on Dayton Street daily, said she knew of three people who had been hit by careless drivers making turns onto and from Belleview Avenue at Dayton Street. The Bermans asked staff to have a police officer spend time watching the pedestrian activity at that intersection to get a sense of the dangers those crossing the street continue to face. The Villager spoke to the Bermans and asked staff, together with them, whether a defined visible crosswalk across Belleview Avenue might be an option to draw drivers’ attention to pedestrians.
At its study session Dec. 3, the council was given the first draft of strategies for a transportation master plan by Hanak and transportation planner Josie Ortiz. Representatives of the two consulting firms contracted to do the study were present. Fehr & Peers was the transportation consultant for the contract. Their representative informed council that after studying trends and gathering data, they determined that “overall, traffic volumes are going to increase in the year 2040 from where they are right now.” She went on, “Based on the goals that were provided and our national experience on transportation master plans…we provided the full gamut of some of the transportation options that have helped communities improve mobility within their community (around the country)….”
As the population of residents and workers steadily increases throughout the area and especially around Denver’s Belleview Station, the Belleview Avenue/ I-25 interchange continues to be a severe bottleneck for GV residents. Funding has not been identified to carry out the plan to fix the intersection, estimated to cost $50 million when it was largely completed in 2016.
Mayor Ron Rakowsky reported that he recently met with Governor-elect Jared Polis and five other mayors and Belleview/I-25 was discussed. Polis said it could not be funded by an additional sales tax or bonds (voters rejected both in November’s election), leaving no identified revenue source (other than the state’s general fund). Rakowsky reported that GV was in talks with other local partners to form a regional transportation alliance to address issues like fixing Belleview/I-25, which he estimated will now cost closer to $100 million. Rakowsky also reported that Polis, a 10-year U.S. congressman, thought there was little chance that federal monies would be provided for this project.
Strategies are contained in the draft of the transportation master plan to address the 45,000 employees who work in GV daily and mostly drive to and from work alone. The city’s own data on greenwood
villageconnects.com shows that between 2007 and 2016 the number of people who used the Orchard Station light rail increased from 350 to 600 per day, while the number of people who used the Arapahoe Station light rail increased from 700 to 950 per day. City council needs to decide whether to accept staff and consultants’ recommendations to adopt strategies to increase those numbers to get more daily commuters to use light rail instead of clogging up GV’s roads.
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