BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
At a public study session last April 15, Jeremy Hanak, GV’s public works director, presented the city council with a list that he and his staff had prepared of 25 rank-ordered proposed roadway project recommendations from all areas of the city. He also gave them a list of recommendations for eight transportation demand management projects, ten first-mile/last-mile projects, and three technology projects. Costs of the 25 roadway projects ranged from unknown to up to $2 million, but more than half were listed as $100,000 to $500,000.
The report was the culmination of a 2-year effort that cost $286,000 in fees to consultants (who were ultimately fired in January), along with countless hours of staff time and contributions by volunteers who comprised an 18-person community working group (CWG), which held at least eight meetings. The CWG was formed by the city council, who appointed its members, to give a voice to city residents and local businesses. It also included one city council member, Dave Kerber.
The goal of the entire effort, dating back to August 22, 2017 when the consultants, Fehr & Peers, were officially hired, was to produce an Updated Transportation Plan for GV. It was scheduled to be adopted in August 2018, one year ago. As of today, no Updated Transportation Plan has been adopted by the GV City Council, nor has one even been proposed. We asked Melissa Gallegos, GV public information officer, when a plan is expected to be adopted. She said, “Staff’s goal is to develop a proposed plan by the end of the year for city council review.”
When the April 15 meeting ended, the city council had not formally adopted the recommendations or committed to doing any of the 46 projects on Hanak’s list.
On August 19, the Greenwood Village City Council gave tentative approval to the 2020 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) which shows planned transportation projects for the year and the funding amounts allocated to them. There are eight new streets and transportation projects listed for 2020 with a combined cost of $1.2 million.
The number one project on the rank-ordered list Hanak gave city council on April 15 was for lane balancing options on westbound Orchard Road at Quebec Street, where consistently surprised drivers find they are forced to turn left and go south from both the left and middle lanes, and only one lane continues west. It is not on the list.
Four of the eight CIP roadway projects for 2020, with a combined cost of $800,000 of the $1.2 million total, are within or at the boundary of the Greenwood Hills neighborhood where Kerber and the other district 2 representative, Anne Ingebretsen, live. None of the four projects appear on any of the three lists of 46 priority recommendations.
Three of the eight CIP roadway projects for 2020, with a combined cost of $360,000, appear in some form as numbers eight, 19 and 22 on the list of 25 rank-ordered recommendations. The other 22 roadway projects and the 21 first-mile/last-mile, transportation demand management, and technology projects are not part of the 2020 CIP.
On February 4, consultants Corona Insights of Denver gave city council the results of the 2018 citizens survey that they were retained to compile and analyze. Their 27-page report, available on the GV website, said, on page one, “Increasing road capacity was the top transportation priority.” None of the eight new streets and transportation projects on the 2020 CIP increase road capacity.
Although six of the ten first mile/last mile projects recommended to city council are for improved pedestrian connections to and from the Arapahoe and Orchard Light Rail stations, sidewalks,\ and bicycle lanes, the only project planned for 2020 is a concept design to improve the bike lane on Dayton Street at the intersections of Belleview Avenue and Orchard Road. The number one item on that rank-ordered list of first mile/last mile projects is “study potential circulator bus to provide connections within the Village,” which could make light rail an option for commuters into GV. That subject has not been raised for discussion in any public meeting of the city council.
The permanent population of GV has remained at 16,000 for the past five years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Traffic around the city is significantly impacted by the 45,000 people who come to work every morning in GV and go home every weekday afternoon. Though the city has two light rail stops at Orchard Road and Arapahoe Road, there are limited sidewalk connections from the stations to where people work. Bike lanes are sparse and also not well connected, according to employees who work in GV that spoke to The Villager on Bike-to-Work Day June 26 and pointed out again by Kurt Hotto, a resident of the Beacon Hill neighborhood, on August 5 during the open forum portion of the regular city council meeting.
According to a 2016 South I-25 urban corridor study prepared for the Denver South Transportation Management Association, there were 243,000 cars per day travelling on Interstate 25 between Belleview and Orchard in 2016. That number is projected to swell to 299,000 in 2040 if there are no positive changes to commuting habits. The study says that on I-25 between Orchard and Arapahoe, there were 230,000 cars daily in 2016, expected to grow to 282,000 by 2040.
The only “Yelp” review of the Orchard Light Rail station was posted in 2016. It says, “Probably the quietest station on the whole RTD Light Rail System.”
The Villager asked Kerber about how roadway projects were chosen for funding in 2020. He said that the four projects in his Greenwood Hills neighborhood “were already being developed for the CIP outside of the CWG process,” and “the city council was never going to delay needed projects while we waited for the recommendations of the Transportation Plan.”
Although the city council did not formally adopt the list they were given on April 15, the projects on it are described in detail and rank-ordered, based on the recommendations of the public works department and the two years of public input the consultants got from the GV community in its well-attended citywide input meetings held in 2018. The city council did not discuss the list in any public meeting after April 15.
In response to our question about why no action was taken to deal with the highest ranked roadway project on the list, westbound Orchard from I-25 to Quebec Street, Kerber said, “We did discuss that in the CWG meetings but concluded that this was perhaps the most studied road in Greenwood Village with studies done in 2009, 2011 and for the Orchard Station proposal. To spend any more money or to allocate time to study it yet again appeared to some of us to be not worthwhile. There are a few things that can be done in that area, striping, signs etc, but they did not fall within the CIP structure.”
The city has not acted to address the ongoing and persistent problem facing motorists in GV daily at that location and there is no indication that it has a plan to do so.
In the Greenwood Hills neighborhood, the city spent $50,000 in 2019 for a design to fix the broken cement on the traffic circles on South Monaco Street “to improve the appearance to match the traffic circles on Cherryville Road in District 1,” according to the proposed CIP, and $225,000 is planned to be spent to make those repairs in 2020.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |