Tuesday, September 16 found numerous students and residents of the City of Golden gathering in the Green Center. The event that drew everyone was a presentation about the intersection between US Highway 6 and 19th Street. This is an intersection that is known for the inherent danger associated with it, for both cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. In the meeting, the City of Golden had six different areas with presentations and people to talk to and ask questions of. These sections isolated the different topics that needed to be discussed in relation to the upcoming changes to the intersection.
The first area was simply an introduction to the idea of why the intersection was being changed and what people’s concerns are about it. Some of the main things that these changes aim to fix are all of the danger issues associated with the intersection. There is a serious problem with people running red lights when driving down Highway 6. Drivers will zip right through them, with no care for the other cars, bicyclists and pedestrians that they are putting in harms way. This is one of the current leading causes of accidents at the intersection of 19th and 6th. Another big problem that residents had brought up at previous meetings is the misunderstandings surrounding yellow flashing lights. No one is quite sure what they mean so people do all sorts of things. Flashing yellow lights mean proceed with caution and they occur when pedestrians have the right of way to cross. This means that when pedestrians are crossing, cars must stop but if there are no pedestrians then they are free to turn. Many do not understand this so will behave erratically which can be very dangerous for pedestrians. The dangers posed to pedestrians and bikers where some of the things residents were most concerned about and those fears were voiced at previous meetings and helped to heavily influence the proposed changes to the intersection.
The second section set up was all about different ramp alternatives that residents were asked to vote about. There are two proposed ramps that will help to filter traffic on and off of Highway 6. The first option was a “tucked on ramp to Highway 6”. This option had numerous advantages such as removing pedestrian crossing across roads, meaning anyone that usually crosses Highway 6 will no longer be forced to wait at traffic lights or make a dangerous walk across the highway. Some other advantages included: reduced delays for people going onto 19th from the highway, reduced delays for people coming down Lookout Mountain and turning left onto the highway, and no signals on 19th Street. These are all excellent advantages but the other option also had some high points too. The second option for a proposed ramp was the ‘on lid ramp to Highway 6’. The advantages of this option included: the same improvements in delays for people coming down Lookout Mountain and turning left onto the highway, it reduces out of the way travel by 1250 feet, and there would be no changing lanes between the highway and Elm Street. However, this option still has pedestrians crossing roads but it is the less expensive option. So the pros and cons had to be weighed and people’s priorities determined to help them choose between the two options.
Traffic modeling dominated the next section of the room. This involved several pictures showing the changes in the intersection and where these will affect traffic. There was also two detailed videos that demonstrated the traffic flows through the intersection. One video showed the traffic flow in the morning and the other showed what it would be like at rush hour. Both demonstrated that the new flow of the intersection will definitely speed up people’s commute through Golden, as there will no longer be a set of lights that people are forced to stop at. With this decrease in traffic congestion, that was caused by the traffic lights, there will, hopefully, no longer be lines of traffic that can back all the way up to the Jefferson County Municipal Building. This is something that everyone is sure to appreciate.
Next in the line-up of information areas was the Lid Alternatives and Aesthetics section. This area was focused entirely on the small details regarding the appearance of the lid over Highway 6 after all of the construction is finished. There were several areas that they asked for residence opinions. One of these aesthetic decisions to be made was about the arc/pillars that would be displayed on the side of the bridge that drivers on the highway would see. The two choices presented were the Rock Outcrop and Golden Arch or the Lariat Loop Pillars. Both of the options clearly displayed the name of the city and both has appealing appearances so it was completely based on personal preference of which design people preferred.
The next aesthetic topic that was discussed was the type of park that will be on top of the lid over the highway. The three options presented were the Active Park, Linear Park, and the Mountain Park. They got progressively more wilderness like towards the end, with the Mountain Park. The Active Park was very well groomed and full of kids climbing implements and running tracks. The Linear Park was more like what most people picture of a park with green grass, trees and not much more. The Mountain Park as the most wild-like, contained wildflowers and natural Colorado grass and had little human intervention. Of course, the price increased with the more effort required to build the park, making the Mountain Park the least expensive and the Active Park the most expensive.
The final aesthetic decision that residents were asked to ponder was the appearance of the wall finishes on the ramps. These are the different options for what the sides of the highway walls would look like. The options increased in price and elaborateness, with the first being simple concrete walls. The second option was a slightly detailed concrete walls, with a similar feel to the ones that cover the sides of I-25. The final option featured fake stone walls that looked very intricate and which were the most expensive. Residents were asked to pick their favorite choices out of the various aesthetic option available for each topic.
The fifth area of discussion consisted of Construction Phasing and when each part of construction was planned for and what it would look like. This also detailed what parts of the roads would be open during each period of construction. The overall time frame for the construction on the intersection is planned to occur between November of 2015, when they will break ground, until July of 2017 when they plan to be finished with everything, including the aesthetic details on the lid. While this might seem like a fairly long construction period, in light of how much they are planning to do, it is actually quite impressive. Representatives at the meeting were quick to assure people that there will be pedestrian crossings across the highway during every step of construction and that the pedestrian and car access during the construction process was one of their highest priorities.
The last section with details about the plans for the changes to the intersection was focused on Traffic Calming and how to ensure that cars, bikes and pedestrians could safely coexist on their way down 19th Street and the best way to ensure that this happened. There were also two options here for people to choose between. People in the attendance at the meeting were invited to choose between keeping the existing sidewalks and bike lanes or if they would prefer for the downhill bike lane to be removed in favor of making the sidewalks wider.
Overall, the purpose of the meeting aimed to show the residents of Golden what changes were being planned for the intersection at US Highway 6 and 19th Street and to figure out what the people of Golden thought of each of their suggestions. Everyone who attended the meeting was encouraged to voice their opinions about the project, both to representatives and on provided questionnaires. The meeting successfully demonstrated the process that the city has gone through to determine what layouts will best suit Golden and the particular intersection and how the feedback from locals has been taken into account. All in all, the city has acquired even more information about how they can best improve the intersection. Residents of the area and anyone who is interested will be very intrigued to see how the planning moves forward. Everyone will be excited to see the city break ground on the new intersection construction and before residents know it, there will be a brand new junction that is sure to be safer and more user friendly than the current one.