Multi-Million Dollar Road Plan Calls for “Parking Ambassadors”, Fewer Traffic Lanes

May 24, 2012
By

WHEAT RIDGE – Prepare to tighten your safety belts.  The City of Wheat Ridge began its “road diet” this week.

In October 2011, the Wheat Ridge City Council voted to approve the “38th Avenue Corridor Plan,” a multi-phase strategy employing redevelopment and revitalization of the city’s core retail corridor over the next eighteen years.

The plan divides the corridor into multiple sub-districts, including designated residential and commercial areas connected by pedestrian-friendly walkways and other alternative forms of transportation.

A key to promoting the non-motor vehicle “mobility” within the area is the use of a so-called “road diet” that would see the corridor’s 4 or 5 lane sections reduced to three lanes, with the creation of on-street parking and “amenity zones.”

“A key plan recommendation is to pursue a “road diet” for the majority of the corridor. This entails removing one eastbound and westbound lane on each side of the street. The road diet would result in a 3-lane section with one thru-lane in each direction and a center turn lane down the middle of the street. In some areas, the road diet would also create room for one lane of on-street parking. A detailed traffic analysis demonstrated that the proposed 3-lane section would have very minimal impact on traffic flow along the street, even with the assumption that the number of cars utilizing 38th Avenue will increase in coming decades.”

While increasing pedestrian-friendly options is a primary goal, the plan anticipates other benefits, including reduced traffic speeds, increased safety, and economic benefits like new business attraction.

The plan took a comprehensive view of the corridor’s demographics, zoning, retail, and residential concentration. The City identified four distinct sub-districts and concluded that the key to accessibility would start with restricting the number of lanes along 38th Avenue, and cited the underutilization of capacity as part of its reasoning:

The concept to remove a lane of thru-traffic in each direction (westbound and eastbound) on 38th Avenue between Sheridan and Wadsworth Boulevards was initially recommended in the Community Revitalization Partnership (CRP) Study completed for Wheat Ridge 2020 in 2010. The CRP report notes that the street has enough lanes to carry about 24,000 cars per day, but actually only carries around 17,000 cars per day. Given this surplus capacity, the report suggests redesigning the street to remove one thru-lane on each side of the street, retaining a center turn lane in the middle of the street.

Community participants were asked to rank their preferred improvements based on “road diet” restrictions, and called for a hybrid sidewalk/“amenity zone” over on-street parking or new or expanded bike lanes.

The Wheat Ridge Neighborhood Gazette points out that among the first signs of the avenue’s redevelopment will be the installation of angled parking—with a twist:

“As part of the changes, about three blocks near Teller and High Court (on the south side of W. 38th) will have angled parking. Drivers are asked to back-in to these spaces and then pull out head first. The maneuver hopes to provide better visibility, a quicker entry into traffic and is simpler than parallel parking. Drivers on 38th Ave. are also asked to yield to cars accessing these spots.”

As for anticipating confusion, “parking ambassadors” will be on hand to ease transition, according to the Gazette.

Cost estimates are not certain, as the project evolves by the year 2030. Initial restriping costs should remain low—in the tens of thousands—and could be entirely funded by the City’s Capital Improvement Plan budget. Other retrofitting could cost hundreds of thousands.

But permanent redevelopment, including new sidewalks and the build out of amenity zones and new planters could drive up the cost, with the “Main Street” sub-district’s “road diet” costing between $3.3-4.5 million.

The plan calls for identifying potential funding sources that include tapping “federal and state transportation dollars, the formation of a special district, tax increment financing (TIF), and/or local bunds funded by a temporary increase in sales or property tax.”

The sale of revenue bonds would require voter approval.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

5 Responses to Multi-Million Dollar Road Plan Calls for “Parking Ambassadors”, Fewer Traffic Lanes

  1. Winston Smith
    May 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    ~~~~
    Lookout Wheatridge!

    What you’re seeing here is The Plan, this is ICLEI!
    The International Council of Local Environmental Initatives– Local Governments for Sutainability. Pronounced: Ickly!

    ICLEI is a foreign nongovernmental organization (NGO) They’re in a relationship with offices and agencies of the United Nations! This is AGENDA 21. This would be a good time to google Agenda 21 & ICLEI because this is a lot bigger than you will ever believe.

    Oh……. and while you’re at it, you’re Corridor Plan is already in the works in Fort Collins and other gullible cities around the world. This is pretty heavy stuff, this is One World Government in the making, so do your homeworks kiddies. ICLEI has infiltrated your city government and it won’t be easy to get rid of them.

    • DonP
      May 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Winston is exactly right. This is part of Agenda 21, the takeover of local control and abdication of it to the UN. This is the same planners utopia wishlist that we see all over the country. Block it.

  2. Annchovie
    May 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

    “Road Diet” is nothing more than a simply way of saying we are going to slow traffic to a crawl in the hopes people will stop and buy something.

    Take a lesson from the backwards traffic light timing in downtown Colorado Springs. Slowing traffic down only diverts traffic and customers to other locations. Business owners requested it. We got it. And now downtown is dead and no one can figure out why?

    The business owners in downtown Colorado Springs come up with new ways of spending other peoples money every year in the hopes of bringing in business to failed stores that need to be shuttered.

    A couple years ago it was parking. So we spent millions on parking garages and new meters.

    Then it was the USOC moving downtown. That only cost us $50 million. Complete failure.

    This year we have street cameras to “decrease crime” at the request of business owners, including installation and annual operating costs.

    And soon they will hit us with a multi-million dollar plan for an ice skating rink and “another” coffee shack, at the bequest of the business owners once again and all to be run with taxpayer dollars.

  3. DonP
    May 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    The City of Grand Junction tried the idiotic reverse diagonal parking and it was a dismal failure. They put it on a street which had been reduced from two lanes each direction to a single weaving lane each direction and then added the reverse diagonal parking and it blocked up sections of the street terribly.
    The problem they don’t get is that with normal diagonal parking, one merely pulls into the space when vacant. With this fiasco of a parking scheme, one has to stop, blocking traffic, and back against the flow of traffic, if there were any left, into a parking place that may have been encroached upon by adjacent cars making the backing problematic.
    The logic is that in pulling out one has a clear view but most diagonal parking offers a clear view anyhow and there is no blockage because one waits till the path is clear before backing out.
    By reducing capacity of the road, they are assuring the reconstruction at an earlier date. They are also assuring a level of service that is less than desirable all the while using the level of service as a reason to upgrade services elsewhere.
    I even heard one astute traffic engineer say that more lanes doesn’t mean more capacity. This is ludicrous alone, of course more lanes increase capacity. This was used to justify the city constructing a two lane road with center turn lane whereas had a private developer built the road, they would have been required to build a four lane with center turn lane/median to meet traffic demands 20 years down the road.

    • DonP
      May 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      BTW, the City of Grand Junction has since changed all that parking to conventional diagonal parking at an additional cost of $80k. Taxpayers money well spent? No!

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