What are the next steps for the Ralston Road Corridor Plan?
The Ralston Road Corridor Plan was originally presented to City Council on July 25, 2011. Additional public comments on the Plan were taken during the City Council meeting on October 10, 2011. In response to concerns about property impacts, medians, and on-street parking, Staff was directed to develop amodified street cross section (or template) for consideration prior to a decision to proceed. City Council also wanted Staff to determine the “best fit” of the modified 4-lane cross section along the corridor between Teller Street and Kipling Parkway. This process will help identify areas where further adjustments to the template would be needed to minimize impacts.
Once this work is complete the information will be presented for City Council review, most likely in the first quarter of 2012. After that, staff and a consultant will begin to talk with property owners one-on-one to obtain comments on the “best fit”.
Why don’t you just improve the sidewalks?
The original request from the Citizen’s Capital Improvement Committee in 2008 was to improve only the sidewalks. It became evident early in the process that the safety concerns along Ralston Road included vehicle traffic as well as pedestrian traffic. City Council directed staff to develop a plan to address both concerns, as well as future land use, rather than to only improve the sidewalks.
If the City widened the sidewalks “in place” we would impact almost every property on the roadway and no other improvements could be considered or included, such as constructing wider lanes, lighting, landscaping, etc. In addition, if in the future the roadway could only be improved by tearing out a good number of the sidewalks that were recently constructed we would have wasted taxpayer money and not acted responsibly with the funds.
If the City proceeds, will my taxes go up to pay for the improvements?
Improvements such as this are usually paid for out of the Capital Improvement Fund (CIP) which is money dedicated and allocated by the City Charter to take care of things like streets, sidewalks, parks, and other infrastructure in the City. At the present time there are no Capital Improvement Funds or other funds identified or dedicated for this project. In addition to the use of CIP funds, the City sometimes issues a bond (long term loan) to fund improvements. Keep in mind that due to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Colorado (TABOR law) any tax increase or bonds would require voter approval.
What is the timeframe for the Ralston Road Corridor Plan?
Given Council approval of the modified plan, the City will hire a consultant to continue the work initiated by Staff to refine the “best-fit” cross section for the entire corridor. This preliminary engineering would also include additional discussions with property owners, a review of driveway and access consolidation where possible, required utility relocations as well as under-grounding, drainage analysis based on curb and gutters, etc, and right-of-way needs. This step is expected to take 9 – 12 months.
There is no identified funding for the project beyond that; in other words, there is no funding for any road or sidewalk improvements at this time. In fact, the project approach itself has not been identified. Yet to be determined are priorities, phasing, and the role of private development in implementation.
At best, the entire set of changes could take 15 years or more to complete. Should the preliminary engineering results demonstrate that there are areas of sidewalk that can be constructed in the near term, or, if funding to construct short segments of the project becomes available, these will be brought before Council for approval.
Will the City be condemning property or tearing down buildings to implement the plan?
It is anticipated that the modified plan will need only narrow strips of land along a property’s frontage. If we proceed, the City will work collaboratively with property owners to minimize impacts with the aim of reaching agreement on these small acquisitions of right-of-way without the need for condemnation. The City does not anticipate the need for demolition of any buildings.
Given the long time frame for the entire project we anticipate that some changes may occur in property ownership and use. If that should happen, the template will be used to direct any future changes.
Would buses still run during construction?
Yes. The City always works closely with RTD to make sure that bus service is available along a route during any construction. Any required changes are publicized in advance to ensure transit service is uninterrupted.
What is the plan for dealing with the multiple driveways and streets along the Ralston Road Corridor?
This is a task that will be discussed with property owners during the one-on-one meetings and will be reviewed during the preliminary engineering work as noted above. This is necessary so that the City and the consultant understand how the property is used, how much parking is required, and how best to access the property.
Have other questions?