Hwy 24 comments: Public likes some, not all, SPUIs

       The following is a continuation of last week's story summarizing the respective features of the design options for each intersection, as currently proposed for Westside Highway 24 by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and coupling that information with a tabulation of written public comments from the May 10 meeting at the West Center.
       First on this week's list is Option 13 for 21st Street, one of the most popular of the state engineering team's plans. As with another that had a majority in favor (Option 19 for Eighth Street), Option 13 calls for a single point urban interface (SPUI), which has the advantage of needing just one stoplight on the street at the interchange instead of two.
       But SPUI is not an automatic favorite. SPUI-type options that would swing 21st Street well to the north (Option 14) or south (Option 15) drew mostly thumbs-down responses from the meeting attendees.
       In all, just 7 out of the 20 total design options (including those presented in last week's Pioneer) got majority support from the public at the meeting.
      
       Option 13 (21st Street Tight Diamond / SPUI): Creates interchange, with highway accel/decel lanes coming up to 21st intersection (under highway) in both directions. Wider roadway than previous options.
       21st STREET IMPACTS: Same as in Option 10.
       BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Same as described in Option 12.
       SAMPLE “YES” COMMENT: “Best Option - suggest you take some more land and straighten Highway 24 west of 21st.”
       SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “Adds too many lanes for interchange.”
       COMMENT TALLY: 30 responses: 18 yes, 6 maybe, 6 no.
      
       Option 14 ( 21st Street Tight Diamond / SPUI North): Relocates highway right of way to the north, with footprint reaching to Sheldon Avenue. Other-wise, similar configuration/alignment as in previous options for this intersection.
       21st STREET IMPACTS: Greater widening to north than previous options, to about Cucharras Street.
       BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Elimination or loss of land for businesses on both sides north to about Cucharras. Removes or takes land from homes/businesses on north side of highway for about two blocks east of 21st.
       ONLY “YES” COMMENT: “Would be my choice.”
       SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “Out of the question - Devastating impact on homes, businesses and lives.”
       COMMENT TALLY: 32 responses: 1 yes, 0 maybe, 31 no.
      
       Option 15 (21st Street Tight Diamond / SPUI South): Relocates highway right of way to the south, with footprint reaching south of Bott Avenue. Otherwise, similar configuration/alignment as in previous options for this intersection.
       21st STREET IMPACTS: Greater widening to south than in previous options, extending south of Broadway Street.
       BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Elimination or loss of land for numerous homes and businesses south of current highway intersection past Bott/21st intersection and west to 23rd Street.
       SAMPLE “YES” COMMENT: “Showcases Van Briggle, good safety features - the best.”
       SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “You will bring a freeway to the doorstep of an elementary school. You will also take out significant homes.”
       COMMENT TALLY: 38 responses: 3 yes, 1 maybe, 34 no.
      
       Option 16 (I-25 Direct / 8th Street Overpass / 13th Street Diamond): Overpass with no access at Highway 24 and Eighth Street. Wide footprint, especially with flyovers and long off-ramp from southbound I-25 for drivers going west.
       There would be two highway off-ramps and two on-ramps each for northbound and southbound I-25 traffic. Northbound off-ramps would be a flyover off northbound I-25 and a “normal” off-ramp coming to the highway just east of the interchange. Southbound would have a long, curving off-ramp taking cars a few hundred feet west of I-25 and a straight off-ramp coming to the highway just west of the interchange. The on-ramps will be explained below.
       Traffic from the “normal” northbound and southbound off-ramps would come together for two dedicated westbound lanes that would go over Eighth and through the intersection at 13th.
       A median-divided 13th Street “shortcut” would go southeast to connect with Garner Street, which would intersect with Eighth Street just south of the Fountain Creek bridge.
       Traffic from southbound I-25's long off-ramp would join with its flyover counterpart from northbound I-25 to create two dedicated westbound lanes that would go over Eighth and could use or “fly by” the interchange at 13th Street.
       Eastbound highway traffic would get two extra lanes east of 13th - these would fly over Eighth Street to become dedicated on-ramp lanes for I-25 south or north; the southbound on-ramp would be a long curving affair, while the on-ramp for I-25 north would be a flyover loop above I-25. Traffic going through the Eighth Street intersection could access the interstate in either direction next to the interchange.
       In addition to the lanes on the westbound and eastbound flyovers, there would be three highway through lanes in each direction west and east of Eighth Street.
       OPTION UPDATE: In response to Westsiders' Option (“Do no harm” plan), CDOT is considering a “shortcut” from the overpass/interchange between 8th and 21st streets to go through Gold Hill Mesa to Broadway Street south of 21st. In response to concerns about excessiveness and visual issues, CDOT has developed a new Option 21 that eliminates the flyover off-ramp for northbound traffic going west and the long off-ramp for southbound traffic going west.
       8th STREET IMPACTS: Median dividing street south to Garner.
       13th STREET IMPACTS: Widening with median to Colorado Avenue. Would become through street to Eighth Street.
       BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Eliminates current corner businesses at Eighth and Cimarron/Highway 24. Elimination or loss of land for businesses/homes on north side of highway to 13th. Elimination of homes or loss of land along 10th to Colorado. Loss of land for hotel on south side of highway east of intersection and for several properties south of highway and west of interstate.
       NOTE: Possible highway encroachment onto current path of Fountain Creek.
       SAMPLE “YES” COMMENT: “Good idea to split traffic off 8th behind current trailer park to 13th & Cimarron. Bridges good for flow at 8th & Cimarron.”
       SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “This proposal cuts off all business - you will kill businesses.”
       COMMENT TALLY: 37 responses: 11 yes, 1 maybe, 25 no.
      
       Option 17 (I-25 Direct / One-Way Pair 8th & 10th Streets / 14th Street Access): [interchange at Highway 24 and Eighth Street. Features would include:
  • Eighth Street one-way north from Garner Street to Colorado Avenue.
  • Tenth Street one-way south from Colorado Avenue to the highway - where it would join with Garner Street - and continue as a one-way to Eighth Street.
  • Off-ramp, but no on-ramp for eastbound highway traffic at 10th Street.
  • On-ramp, but no off-ramp, for westbound highway traffic at 10th Street.
  • Off-ramp, but no on-ramp, for westbound highway traffic at 14th Street.
  • On-ramp, but no off-ramp for eastbound highway traffic at 14th Street.
  • Limit Street, now one-way south, would become a cul de sac.
  • Same I-25 off-ramp scenario initially as described in Option 16. Traffic from the “normal” northbound and southbound off-ramps would then come together for three westbound through lanes going through the intersection at Eighth and 10th, then over 14th without possible access.
           Traffic from southbound I-25's long off-ramp would join with its flyover counterpart from northbound I-25 to create two westbound “fly-by” lanes that would go over 8th and 10th, then could join the through traffic or get off at 14th.
           Eastbound highway traffic would get two extra lanes between 14th and 10th - these would become dedicated on-ramp lanes for I-25 south or north, with the same flyover on-ramp design as described in Option 16.
           Eastbound highway through lanes would go over 14th, and through the 10th and 8th street intersections.
           OPTION UPDATE: As described in Option 16.
           8th STREET IMPACTS: Three lanes one-way north from Garner to Colorado, with capability to go west or east from turn lanes at highway intersection. Median to Garner as described in Option 16.
           10th STREET IMPACTS: Widening from highway to Colorado Avenue (remaining two-way in that segment). Would become through street to Gold Hill Mesa and Eighth Street.
           14th STREET IMPACTS: Loss of street's current westbound access onto highway (would retain exit). Would become through street to Gold Hill Mesa.
           BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Same as described in Option 16 at Eighth Street/Highway 24 intersection and south of highway and east of interstate. Elimination or loss of land for businesses/homes on north side of highway to 14th. Elimination of homes or loss of land along 10th to Colorado. NOTE: Possible highway encroachment onto current path of Fountain Creek.
           SAMPLE “YES” COMMENT: “Like the I-25 flyovers & still keeping local access & adding an access.”
           SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “Funnels Gold Hill Mesa residents onto Colorado Ave = a problem!”
           COMMENT TALLY: 32 responses: 9 yes, 1 maybe, 22 no.
          
           Option 18 (I-25 Direct / 8th Street Signalized Intersection / 14th Street Access): Partial interchange/stoplight at High-way 24 and Eighth Street.
           Same off-ramp scenario initially as described in Option 16. Traffic from the “normal” northbound and southbound off-ramps would then come together for three westbound through lanes that would go through the intersection at 8th then over 14th without possible access.
           Traffic from southbound I-25's long off-ramp would join with its flyover counterpart from northbound I-25 to create two westbound “fly-by” lanes that would go over 8th, then could join the through traffic or get off at 14th.
           The I-25 on-ramp scenario for eastbound traffic would be the same as described in Option 16.
           Eastbound highway through lanes would go over 14th and through the 8th Street intersection.
           Three left-turn lanes for westbound traffic going south on Eighth.
           Same 14th Street on/off-ramp scenario as described in Option 17.
           OPTION UPDATE: As described in Option 16.
           8th STREET IMPACTS: Widening to three lanes each way from about Garner to the highway. Northbound would also have two left-turn lanes and two right-turn lanes at highway.
           14th STREET IMPACTS: Same as described in Option 17.
           BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Same as described in Option 16 at Eighth Street/Highway 24 intersection and south of highway and east of interstate. Elimination or loss of land for businesses/homes on north side of highway to 14th and at least a block west (to edge of map). Elimination or loss of land for businesses on Eighth Street south of highway to about Garner. NOTE: Possible highway encroachment onto current path of Fountain Creek.
           SAMPLE “YES” COMMENT: “Preferred traffic flow - more on/off with minimal neighborhood invasion.”
           SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “Concerned about traffic speed on side street accessways to 8th and highways.”
           COMMENT TALLY: 31 responses: 13 yes, 1 maybe, 17 no.
          
           Option 19 (I-25 Direct / 8th Street SPUI / 14th Street Access): Interchange/stoplight at Highway 24 and Eighth Street. Much wider footprint than other options for this intersection because of desire to make curved instead of perpendicular turns.
           Same off-ramp scenario initially as described in Option 16. Traffic from the “normal” northbound and southbound off-ramps would come together for three westbound through lanes that would go through the intersection at Eighth then merge with other westbound lanes with optional egress at 14th.
           Traffic from southbound I-25's long off-ramp would join with its flyover counterpart from northbound I-25 to create two westbound “fly-by” lanes that would go over 8th, then join the through traffic lanes with optional egress at 14th.
           Eastbound highway through traffic and dedicated-lane traffic would be as described in Option 18.
           Same limited 14th Street access as described in Option 18.
           OPTION UPDATE: CDOT is now presenting a n option with a SPUI intersection under I-25. Other updates as described in Option 16.
           8th STREET IMPACTS: Same as described in Option 18 .
           14th STREET IMPACTS: Same as described in Option 17.
           BUSINESS/HOME IMPACTS: Because of wider road space, there will be more businesses impacted than described in options above at the Eighth Street/ Highway 24 intersection, along north side of highway to 14th Street and along highway between Eighth and I-25. Also, there will be those impacts as described in Option 16, as well as south of the highway and east of interstate, and in Option 18 along Eighth Street south of highway. NOTE: Possible highway encroachment onto current path of Fountain Creek.
           SAMPLE “YES” COMMENT: “Seems to be the only one that makes sense.”
           SAMPLE “NO” COMMENT: “Wow! Incredibly confusing.”
           COMMENT TALLY: 35 responses: 22 yes, 2 maybe, 11 no.
          
           There was a final question for the public on the CDOT comment form May 10: “What are your thoughts about additional corridor elements and aesthetics? What elements should we focus on as we refine the Expressway Alternative?”
           The following is a sampling from the 107 answers to this question that were submitted to CDOT:
           “For these presentations, may I suggest a written brief statement of what distinguishes an individual option from those offered as alternatives. For those with tired brains, it takes a long time to stand and analyze the differences for every option…(help!) Clues to the major differences would be appreciated.”
           “This whole plan [options 16, 17, 18, &19} has many quirks and many good points. The two drafts #18 & #19 (a little of both) at 14th and 8th need revision. I'll have to say the off-ramp is also a concern close to the power plant.”
           “The committee in charge or CDOT needs to establish resolve & determination [not] to be deterred because Miss Mally Wally is complaining that her delapidated dog house and three-fourths dead Siberian elm weed tree will be compromised. We end up with a Band-aid on a broken leg - reality dictates only a freeway will resolve the required solution for effective traffic flow.”
           “Focus on the lives of the people your project will impact.”
           “Every one of your choices eliminates the statue and the fish shop. That is not necessary. Take traffic away from 21st on 14th.”
           “I have owned & operated my business on 21st St for 21 years. I counted on the value of my property for my retirement. Plan #15 would render my property valueless. If this plan is chosen I can assure you I will sue the state and hold you up in court (for years if possible). Plan 15 also adversely affects many people (including a number of very elderly people) who will be displaced from their homes. Some of those elderly will simply die if displaced from their homes.”
           “None of the options I saw tonight I liked. Where is the Westsider option? Using 14th street - minimal impact. Why is it necessary to have 6-8 lanes in a 4 ˝-mile stretch - going back to 4 lanes (total) west of Manitou and east of I-25? Where do cars come from only to disappear again?”
           “Regardless what options are chosen, I would like 24 to be an attractive gateway to the Westside. I would like to see landscaping w/native plants & trees as well as attractive sand barriers if necessary.”
           “I don't want $240 million spent just so people can traverse this route five minutes faster. Whole idea is ridiculous except Ridge Road - something needs to be done there immediately.”
           “It would be preferable to incorporate empty land tracts south of 24 in the Gold Hill development. It is Gold Hill that is the cause of projected increases in traffic, therefore, Gold Hill should provide land for corridor improvement.”

    Westside Pioneer article