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  #1  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2012, 10:43 PM
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Denver Debates Completing Its Highway Beltway

No Closure for Denver’s Beltway Loop


January 16, 2012

By KIRK JOHNSON

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/us...pagewanted=all

Quote:
GOLDEN, Colo. — Breathes there a soul who really, truly, loves a beltway? Maybe, but you are not likely to find one here in this little city in the Rocky Mountain foothills west of Denver. For decades, this has been the community that said no, arguing through courts and politics and whatever other means available that a multilane ring road circling Denver — the kind built around cities all across America starting in the 1950s and ’60s — would spell disaster. Most of Denver’s belt-loop would cruise through open prairie land; here it would cleave the narrow Golden Valley and shatter the community, residents and their leaders said in what became a mantra.

- Transportation and planning experts say there is probably no clear answer as to whether beltways have been good or bad. If in some places they led to urban sprawl, they say, by opening up undeveloped land and decentralizing downtowns, there are also examples where a belt, by diverting traffic to the edges, kept a thoroughfare from passing straight through a city’s center and ripping it apart. Memphis, for example, embraced the ring road as a way of avoiding an Interstate through downtown. Portland residents, by contrast, opposed a proposed Interstate extension in the 1970s, and the plan was scrapped in favor of public transit. Robert Moses’ dream of a superhighway loop across Lower Manhattan went the way of fins and leaded gas. South Pasadena’s opposition to the 710 Freeway in Southern California created a break in the highway that persists to this day.

- Denver, by dragging out the beltway fight for decades — the vision was put down in regional plans in the late 1950s — created a kind of third way: a belt constructed in stages amid a slow-motion fight that never ended. Just this month, Golden filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Fish and Wildlife Service of improperly allowing federal land for a proposed new section of belt north of the city. “Denver, as a result of doing it piecemeal, may not have had the curse of pushing people out into the exurbs,” said Representative Max Tyler, a Democrat who represents Golden in the state Legislature. Some prominent urban planning experts are not so sure about that. Because Denver’s partial belt was built over time, with many assuming that the project would one day be finished, business owners and residents made decisions accordingly.

- “It is an incorrect argument that if you can hold out against that last segment and not complete the ring it will be a bulwark against sprawl, because the sprawl already exists. From a regional planning and transportation perspective it makes more sense to have a full beltway than three-fourths of a beltway.” Historians say the belt idea itself was essentially a kind of arranged marriage between urban America and the Interstate highway system, which began paving its way across the nation late in the Eisenhower administration. The question, which had never before existed in a country of local and often unpaved roads, was what should happen when the Interstate encountered a city. Through the decades since, of richer and poorer and bumper-to-bumper, the answer — a circle — shaped what scores of cities became.

- If the extension north of town, called the Jefferson Parkway, is built and the belt thus closes in on both edges — a section already exists just to the south — then local streets, the critics say, could be overwhelmed by drivers creating a de facto belt by driving through Golden to get to the section of belt on the other side. Golden city officials said that projected traffic numbers on the parkway extension have been inflated to make the project appear more financially viable. “According to our studies, it would not make that much difference to traffic,” said Golden’s mayor, Marjorie Sloan. Bill Ray, a senior policy adviser to the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority, said the future would change with or without Golden’s consent. A growing population, he said, would bring congestion to the little Golden Valley, and the only question was how the resulting traffic would be managed.

.....








Residents of Golden, a small town just west of Denver, have said that allowing a highway through their valley would rupture their community.






The Golden Valley, where the city has held firm for decades.

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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2012, 10:52 PM
untitledreality untitledreality is offline
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I really hope they are able to hold on and win out. Denver has no need whatsoever for a full beltway, not with the amount of intersecting interstates that fill the Denver metro area. And especially to slow down the pummeling assault of sprawl on the foothill prairies between Boulder and Golden.
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Old Posted Jan 17, 2012, 11:52 PM
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If that photo is of the town that opposes it, then it looks like there is already a highway going through there, so why is another one needed? Is there really that much traffic in NW Metro Denver to necessitate a complete ring road?

Don't build a ring road just for the sake of having a ring road. If only three quarters of the city's circumference require some sort of by-pass, than only build it on three quarters of the city's circumference.
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Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 1:30 AM
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Originally Posted by untitledreality View Post
I really hope they are able to hold on and win out. Denver has no need whatsoever for a full beltway, not with the amount of intersecting interstates that fill the Denver metro area. And especially to slow down the pummeling assault of sprawl on the foothill prairies between Boulder and Golden.

Given that Golden has sprawled plenty all by itself over the last 20 years or so, I don't think they really have a heck of a lot of right to say much of anything in this matter, quite frankly. While I'm not the biggest proponent of completing the 470 Beltway around metro Denver, there is absolutely no question that traffic between Golden and Boulder can be pretty terrible at times, and the current road (State Route 93) isn't currently up to the challenge. I understand Golden not wanting any additional on and off-ramps through the city, that makes quite a bit of sense. And yes, it will likely produce some additional sprawl, specifically on lands owned by neighboring Arvada. However, given that a good chunk of land along the route is actually the former Rocky Flats (ie: where I believe all of the nation's plutonium sources for nuclear weaponry were ever produced), it's not likely there will be any residential or commercial growth on that land for probably eternity.

Again, while I'm not a huge fan of the beltway completion, Golden is simply being a fly in the ointment here, and it's done nothing but be that fly for 20+ years. Nearly everything the city has asked for has been agreed to, and even when the city seemingly agreed to drop any further legal actions, a small group of residents (seemingly the ones with the political power) have convinced them to flare up their opposition yet again.

If Golden were a place that hasn't sprawled all by itself in the last few decades, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, however, they can pretty much drop dead in my book.

Aaron (Glowrock)

edit: vid, that's Hwy 93. The 470 Beltway completion will actually use much of the ROW of the current road for several miles from Hwy 6 (just below the bottom of that aerial shot) through Golden's sprawl, and then will turn eastward and then northward again a few miles north of Golden.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 3:18 AM
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That looks like a pretty massive ring road! 30-40 miles in diameter, depending on where you draw the line!! Many cities its size have ring roads about half that size.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 3:42 AM
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It's not really correct to say Denver is debating it... Broomfield (the municipality on the northern end that's pushing it) was about 10 seconds from starting construction. But there was a land swap with the Feds that needed to happen for it to start. That happened, and now Golden (and a few others) have sued.

On what Glowrock said: the interesting thing is, with the planned alignment, it really won't serve Boulder at all, it's too far east. Nobody from Boulder will use it, that traffic will stay on 93.

My concern is about the finances. It won't be a full freeway the entire way, that's not the plan. Parts of it will be fast 4-lane arterial, basically, including the part that would slice right though Golden. I question their toll revenue projections.

When we built the Northwest Parkway (the existing piece of the northwest corner, connecting Boulder to the Airport), a lot of thought went into preserving open space, land use planning, and generally ensuring it wouldn't become a sprawl machine. And that worked. The problem was, without the development, traffic on the road has been absurdly below projections and the bond holders lost their butts. Now they're thinking, if they finish it, that'll help. But I worry they are doubling down, and they're doing it on a segment with even lower traffic potential. I'm not really opposed to the road, but I am opposed to relying on new development to generate traffic to pay for it, which looks like the likely outcome.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 3:46 AM
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You know, in all my years in Colorado, including a year and a half at college in Golden, I don't recall it ever being referred to as the "Golden Valley.".
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 4:45 AM
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Speaking as one who drives around Denver for a living:

I'd never use it. Ever. I rarely use C-470 and as for the tollway, I don't use it either.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 4:53 AM
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470 is just way too far out to be an effective beltway. And it's too big of a loop to be a useful bypass for interstate traffic, except on the very very worst of days on I-25. It's been a big mistake, pretty much from the beginning.

I-225 is the appropriate place for a beltway. If Denver was ever going to build one, they should have done it then and there.
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Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 4:57 AM
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I know that I-225 is blocked by the Arsenal, but I just don't understand why you would have a loop that only went 1/4 of the way around town. I also don't understand why you wouldn't make it 4 lanes in each direction. There's at least 100,000 people on both sides of that highway and it's still 2 lanes in each direction.
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Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 5:53 AM
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I may be crazy, but I also happen to be maybe the lone urbanist who actually favors getting this done... I live in Longmont and grew up in Boulder and can also attest to Highway 93 being far above its capacity. The beltway completion WILL help Boulderites in this regard by siphoning off Broomfield and Superior residents who have clogged Highway 93 with traffic over the past 2 decades.

Also, with the exception of the proposed Candelas development in Arvada (a reasonable sprawl concern I'll admit), the entire remainder of land along the highway's route is either already developed or set aside as open space, so this is the ONE stretch of the beltway where additional sprawl is actually of minimal concern (as opposed to the original, southern section that had been rightfully opposed and lead to the development of Highlands Ranch).

One final point on the issue of Golden's opposition... as you can clearly see in the posted picture, Highway 93/Highway 6 (the future alignment of the beltway) already carves a massive gash right through the "Golden Valley." I know I am in the minority of Americans on this matter, but to me anything that is not (or cannot be turned into) a proper urban "street" is in fact a highway, and I do not understand how stoplights make that situation any better. In fact, stoplights just make the situation worse by creating needless gridlock and causing millions of cars to idle their way through town (something that cannot be justified as "green" in any kind of way). Cross streets too would in fact be BETTER CONNECTED across the highway if it was grade separated, because cross traffic would not have to wait at a red light, and pedestrians would not have to walk across a 6-8 lane intersection as they do now. I understand there is a stigma that comes with having a "Freeway" built through your town, but in reality I think the Beltway would be FAR superior to what is there now.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 6:23 AM
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Except that the Jefferson Parkway proposal, last I saw, doesn't include upgrades to Highways 93/6 through Golden. It'll dump its traffic on to the existing road, stoplights and all.

I checked the submittals to DRCOG, and everything indicates regional aterials south of 64th. CDOT recommends upgrade to interchanges in the long term vision, but that is "outside the jurisdiction" of the Jefferson Parkway. That sort of concerns me...we are going get stuck upgrading those interchanges with regular state money to, in effect, subsidize the private tollway.
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Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 6:38 AM
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This is interesting (from the DRCOG stuff):

SH 93.
- SH 93 traffic (north of 64th Avenue Parkway) will generally flow at 23,000+ trips per day in 2015 without the project. The 2035 No Build continues with this trend at 24,000 to 30,000 trips per day.
- The SH 128 intersection with SH 93 will operate at LOS D in 2015 and worsening to LOS E by 2035 without the project. With implementation of the project, LOS B occurs in 2015, but by 2035 LOS F will occur at SH 128 and SH 93.
- SH 72 and SH 93 will operate at LOS E and F regardless of the project.
- Further to the south, LOS at SH 93 is not influenced by the Parkway to the extent that LOS F is anticipated at SH 58 and US 6 locations by 2015 with or without the project.

Nothing like a highway that either increases or has no effect on congestion. . Fascinating read. http://www.drcog.org/publiccomment/d...arkway_All.pdf

Like I said, this road generally doesn't bother me all that much. Sucks for Golden, I agree... but... eh. I do think there should be some shared responsibility for funding future improvements south of 64th. Either way, though, I won't be investing in it. Seems like a risky proposition.
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Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 4:33 PM
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Has it not been suggested that more highways leads to more cars on the road than there were before.
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Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 7:06 PM
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This article implies that the Jefferson Parkway will complete the beltway but it will not. It is just a standalone toll road dumping traffic into residential streets on both ends. I would rather see it connect directly to the NW Parkway and have a proper interchange with 36. This would help the NW Parkway numbers and the lack of this interchange has probably contributed to its current low usage.

I also have fears they will do something with 72 & 93 forcing the use of the new toll road. Maps I have seen show it overlapping with these two roads and I’m not really sure what that means. Both roads can get busy but never really seem that bad. At least not bad enough to necessitate this new toll road.

I am not completely against the idea for this new road but would just like to see a proper connection with 36 and the rest of 470 to fully be behind it. It just seems there are bigger roadway issues to address in the Denver area then a standalone stretch of toll road.
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Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 7:49 AM
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Again, while I'm not a huge fan of the beltway completion, Golden is simply being a fly in the ointment here, and it's done nothing but be that fly for 20+ years. Nearly everything the city has asked for has been agreed to, and even when the city seemingly agreed to drop any further legal actions, a small group of residents (seemingly the ones with the political power) have convinced them to flare up their opposition yet again.

If Golden were a place that hasn't sprawled all by itself in the last few decades, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, however, they can pretty much drop dead in my book.

Aaron (Glowrock)

edit: vid, that's Hwy 93. The 470 Beltway completion will actually use much of the ROW of the current road for several miles from Hwy 6 (just below the bottom of that aerial shot) through Golden's sprawl, and then will turn eastward and then northward again a few miles north of Golden.
Which is why it will be completed. They already have the workings of a freeway there: all that's left is to eliminate the at-grade crossings and it's over.
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Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 4:28 PM
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I will concede that the toll road doesn't do much good with the Flatirons and Golden at-grade crossings... but that said, I also agree with Rail Claimore that this project will make them virtually inevitable at some point in the future. The only reason they aren't connecting to 470 through Golden is because the city has been fighting the project so hard for years and years. Dumping all that traffic onto their city streets seems almost fair game, making it Golden's problem alone after many years of them refusing to cooperate with their neighbors.
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Old Posted Jan 21, 2012, 2:11 AM
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I will concede that the toll road doesn't do much good with the Flatirons and Golden at-grade crossings... but that said, I also agree with Rail Claimore that this project will make them virtually inevitable at some point in the future. The only reason they aren't connecting to 470 through Golden is because the city has been fighting the project so hard for years and years. Dumping all that traffic onto their city streets seems almost fair game, making it Golden's problem alone after many years of them refusing to cooperate with their neighbors.
The area in question- from 9 o'clock to 11:30 on an analog dial- is filled with some of the richest 5-10 acre property owners in the State. Property owners in this quadrant- including ever gentrifying west and north Golden- tend not to be interested in property development, but, in what they correctly perceive as their possessing some of the least disturbed, high quality foothill land in the Metro Area.

Likewise, many in the city of Golden- believe it or not-are rather eclectic, and, educated concerning subjects like suburban sprawl aka the 'Broomfield Mess', the boring big box wasteland clear up past 168th on I-25 and, have studied Boulder's greenbelt philosophy very well.

At this point, there are too many middle level players- those that can easily put $1,000 or more in their favorite politician's pocket to be silenced.

Besides, should'nt we be using more public transit anyway? Or is that just another property development scheme centered in Lodo?
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  #19  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2012, 2:56 AM
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Which is why it will be completed. They already have the workings of a freeway there: all that's left is to eliminate the at-grade crossings and it's over.
Well then the Jefferson Parkway folks should be on the hook for paying for $50-100 million in grade separations that will become "inevitable." We have enough unfunded needs without arbitrarily creating new ones.
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Old Posted Jan 21, 2012, 4:00 AM
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Boulder's greenbelt philosophy
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