Golden’s Proposed Plan
Golden citizens and city leaders came together in 2003 to outline a vision for improving transportation. The result of a year of study and extensive community discussions, including nine public meetings and hundreds of citizen comments, this plan was unanimously adopted by City Council.
Golden last year held another community-wide transportation conversation with residents to evaluate possible 6 and 93 corridor designs that would be consistent with residents’ vision for our small town. Based on that feedback, City Council directed Golden staff to work with CDOT for the past year to identify potential improvements for the 6 and 93 corridor in Golden that work for our community. This was part of a deliberate strategy to have the political folks step back and let technical staff see if there was a compromise that might satisfy Golden, CDOT, and benefit the entire region.
Those meetings led to some changes to the original 2003 Golden plan, which include:
- Maintain the current speed limits of 45 mph for any future road improvements, except between Heritage and 19th on US 6, which would stay at the current 55 mph speed limit. CDOT originally showed 70 mph speed limits throughout the corridor. Golden’s original position was a maximum speed of 45 mph for the entire stretch of road to control noise levels.
- Leave the section between Heritage Road and 19th Street as is. We originally were looking to rebuild it with a few 45 mph curves to keep speed down. As a part of this proposed compromise, we would use the median as a raised and landscaped area, like Johnson Road, to help with both speed and noise. This can be seen if you click on the button in the first panel on the left above and then hit the orange button.
- Golden staff is considering a compromise with CDOT that would prohibit expansion of US 6 to six lanes unless traffic volumes reach 70,000 vehicles per day. CDOT had always wanted to complete a six-lane freeway through Golden. We cannot predict when or if that traffic volume trigger might be met, but traffic modeling shows that even by 2035 we will not be close to that threshold. Modeling we have completed shows traffic volumes in 2035 of only 31,000 vehicles per day on SH 93 and only as high as 51,000 vehicles per day between 19th Street and Heritage Road. Golden has always insisted on a maximum of four lanes because of these model numbers and because we fear that additional lanes would attract additional traffic. So this compromise would ease our concerns but also allow for CDOT’s expansion needs decades from now if traffic levels warrant it. The plan shows how the bridges would accommodate this if you click on the button in the second panel on the left above, and then hit the orange button. It is also seen in the pictures in the two panels along SH 93.
- The final change is the possibility that an additional lane in each direction could be managed. Managed lanes may have variable tolls or carpool requirements depending on traffic congestion or the time of day. The City has always been against tolling within Golden because residents need the corridor for trips to school, the grocery store, into downtown, etc. US 6 since 1951 has served as a community street, as well as a route for regional traffic. Tolling for Golden residents has always been out of the question. CDOT understands this, which is why its staff proposed the possibility of tolling only on the new lanes. With this proposal, there would always be at least two free lanes in each direction on US 6 and one free lane in each direction on 93. All the updated pictures in all the panels show the potential future managed lanes.
Last year’s community-wide conversation indicated that Golden residents could live with these modifications to the city’s 2003 plan, provided that the safeguards (not less than 70,000 vehicles per day required for additional lanes and no tolling on existing lanes) are clearly documented.
City staff has developed a draft agreement with CDOT that would incorporate the compromises outlined above and define what the corridor would look like. Council is now considering the formal adoption of this agreement.
Because the agreement between Golden and CDOT staff reflects long and delicate negotiations, Golden believes that City Council has only two choices – to endorse it in its entirety or to reject it outright. Staff believes that any changes by Council to the plan would cause the negotiated agreement to collapse. This proposed agreement in no way states that Golden has lifted its opposition to plans for the Jefferson Parkway north of Golden.
Council will listen to community comment and vote on this issue on May 9. If the agreement on these transportation improvements is approved by City Council, Golden would apply for funding through CDOT’s new Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnership (RAMP) funding program. The city would apply for funding for the 6 and 19th interchange and potentially for widening and noise improvements to 93. Completing this agreement with CDOT is necessary to make those applications for funding. Even with an agreement, the projects will be done only when funding is available. But the likelihood of getting available funding increases with CDOT’s blessing to our project list.