by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
There’s lots to catch up on in our neighborhoods. Last week we covered some personnel changes. This week we’ll go over pedestrian and cyclist happenings along the central Ralston Road corridor.
THE PARK IS NOW CLOSED
We had beautiful weather during the weekend as the Garrison Street park was left open for the last time for walking, cycling, games of frisbee catch, kite flying, gold panning and crawdad fishing. The North Jeffco Community Park and Hoskinson Park are now closed to pedestrians and cyclists for the duration of heavy construction.
Closed too is the north sidewalk along Ralston Road. Both the pedestrian crossing at Field Street (more information on that below) and the north-side bus stop have been removed. The plastic orange construction fencing closing off the construction site now runs from Holland Street to Carr Street, and Brooks Drive itself is the designated detour route for pedestrians and cyclists using the Ralston Creek Trail.
While it might be possible to reopen some of the park before construction is complete, users shouldn’t count on it. Pedestrian safety seems to be the first concern for the City and even construction sites that are idle over the weekend are still a hazard for children and grownups. The entire reconstruction project is now scheduled to be complete in October of 2013.
SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL (SRTS)
The fall of 2013 is also when a new bike and pedestrian trail is scheduled to be completed on the unpaved stretch of road on Garrison Street between Ralston Road and 57th Avenue. The City was able to capture a $135 thousand SRTS grant from the federal government to replace the slippery dirt “beaver slide” that now runs down the hill next the Arvada Community Gardens.
The dirt footpath is currently signed to prohibit bicycles, but kids and adults use it anyway. Check your brakes first and try a run down the hill on your bike when the weather is dry. It’s a hoot. The new path will still have to deal with steep grades and have a separation rail next to the open Swadley Ditch, but it will be a lot safer for kids going to school when the project is done. The new walkway should also be wheelchair (ADA) accessible when complete.
TRAFFIC CALMING ON INDEPENDENCE
You may have noticed the electronic YOUR SPEED signs on both sides of Independence Street at about 53rd Avenue. District 3 Councilor Shelley Cook reports that they are temporary installations intended to gauge how effective these smart signs are in reducing speeding in residential areas. Wheat Ridge has adopted similar signs on 44th Avenue.
Arvada has not yet finalized its own traffic calming policy. The sticking point may be the required financial match from the local neighborhoods. But City Traffic seems to be taking a proactive stance by gathering data now on which traffic calming methods work the best and which don’t. In addition to telling you your speed, the signs flash a strobe light at you when you are speeding.
The idea is to encourage voluntary compliance. This type of speed detection system is not used to issue citations.
When asked about the temporary signs, Traffic Engineer Patty Lorence issued this statement:
“The City is testing solar powered radar speed signs for use on streets with long-standing speeding problems such as Independence Street between W. 51st and W. 53rd Avenues. The effectiveness of these signs is under evaluation. Further application of these signs is in the development stage. More information will be provided when it becomes available.”
There is growing concern about traffic on Independence Street generated by the construction of the new FasTracks commuter rail station and the nearby Arvada Ridge apartments being built just north of the Target shopping center. Speeding is already a problem on Independence and there have been frequent hits on residential fencing from errant vehicles. At a Council workshop held last month, Councilor Bob Dyer said he thought the City should consider providing direct access to the station from the Kipling Parkway to reduce the impacts of traffic on nearby residential streets such as Independence.
FIELD STREET PED CROSSING NOT TO BE REPLACED
The City has recently decided that the Field Street pedestrian crossing on Ralston Road will not be replaced after construction. The existing pedestrian crossing, which has been in place for decades, was permanently removed last week. We don’t yet know whether the westbound bus stop will be reinstalled at its old location after construction.
Removing the crossing makes sense. Leaving the crossing in place during the park’s reconstruction would not have been safe. The City’s construction plans also call for removing the existing (and now closed) sidewalk along Ralston Road. Those plans show a new sidewalk being built that will be set back from current walk and the arterial road.
But the decision not to replace the crossing after construction may come as a surprise to area residents who followed the development of the Ralston Road Corridor Plan last year. That plan, which the Council did not approve, called for a significant increase in the number of pedestrian crossings along Ralston Road with a spacing of no more than 500 feet between them — and spaced as close as 330 feet in some locations. Councilor Dyer quipped that even Boulder doesn’t put in that many pedestrian crossings.
Initially, the plan called for replacing the pedestrian crossing at Field Street with a crossing a little farther to the east — possibly at Estes Street. Even if a replacement crossing were installed at Estes Street that would still leave a space of over a 1000 feet between a new pedestrian crossing at Estes Street and the signalized intersections at Garrison and Carr Streets. Garrison and Carr are 2100 feet apart.
Moreover, there may be even more demand for a replacement crossing after 2013 than there was before construction started. Originally, the Field Street ped crossing was put in to serve the Fisher Pool. In addition to the normal attraction of a large central park, Apex has been predicting that the new splash pad to be installed in the park to replace the Fisher Pool will be a big draw for children of all ages.
Coming notes: park construction and project cost underruns, CLRC’s spring/summer meeting plans, parking developments in Olde Town, next month’s Apex elections, the condition of Memorial Park and more.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The City has a web site with a link to its up-to-date schedule for the reconstruction of both the Garrison Street park and the new Wolff Park at Ralston Road and Carr Street. Here’s the link to the web page
and here is the link to the static file that is now current:
The City contact for the new Garrison Street ped/bike path is Anne Tully. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she can send you a copy of a PDF file that shows where the new trail will run.
The final draft of the Ralston Road Corridor Plan is still available online as part of a City Council packet for July 25, 2011. You should be able to download it by clicking on this link:
The discussion on the pedestrian environment on Ralston Road begins on page 103 of the file (the report page is Page 51).
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community has a website at http://www.ralstoncommunity.org/ with all of our past posts. Or you can friend us on Facebook. Our name is ‘Ralston Arvada.’
John Kiljan, CLRC Notes: 303-423-9875 or email@example.com