Traffic in Littleton–A Conversation with our Acting City Manager

traffic2

Mark Relph began the evening by providing a brief history of his experience.  He is a Professional Engineer and has been in city administration for the past 20 years.   He was a Community Development Director in Delta, CO and that’s when he decided he preferred Public Works.  He has worked in California and Washington.  Coming to Littleton was coming home.

He talked about the state requirements for growth management in Washington and although it sounded like a bad idea when he first heard about it he has decided that it really was good.  Having the state mandate forced the conversation about growth in the community and they had to document how they were going to handle the projected growth.  The state reviewed the plans.

The biggest issue in the near term for Littleton is traffic and the long-term maintenance of our infrastructure.  This is not just a Littleton problem but also a problem across the nation.  Currently we have been moving the excess General Fund dollars to the Capital Fund at the end of each year.  In three or four years there will not be enough dollars in the Capital Fund to manage the pavement maintenance that will be needed.   He said they couldn’t talk about new funding options until they look internally for solutions.

Some examples of concerns expressed by Relph:

  • Signal Systems – cant’ get parts anymore for some – they are just old.
  • Broadway – can link through the signal progression but difficult to do with the traffic controllers we have.
  • Best Management Practices – the signal poles should be inspected every five years for failure (based on wind and load factors). This has never been done in Littleton and they can fail.
  • We are way behind on a signal system for Littleton
  • Transportation Master Plan – it has never been done
  • Complan – it is thin at best. We have never taken the plan and tested the transportation network – that should be a standard practice – it has never been modeled.  Within five years we should have a transportation master plan.  We are in a bad place to manage growth and development.
  • Level of Service (LOS) – A grading system for traffic flow with A being free moving and F being standing still. If we had a standard developers would have to meet the standard or mitigate the problems.
  • Santa Fe – that requires a conversation with CDOT and Arapahoe County
  • Sterling Ranch- a lot of traffic will be generated by Sterling Ranch
  • Ensor Property – there’s a developer pursuing the north thirty acres (they have an option on the property and they are looking at what they can do). They can’t do much unless the city takes on that intersection and CDOT won’t step up.  $120,000,000.00 will be needed.
  • Relph said he would be proposing to council that they begin the Federal process – the PEL – Preliminary Engineering and he forgot what the L stands for. This would be the environmental work that needs to be done first before a fix for that intersection is built.
  • Impact Fees – they are inadequate. He would like the code to state that the LOS can’t be degraded on Mineral and Santa Fe.
  • Need to partner with Arapahoe County and CDOT – they know that Santa Fe is a problem.
  • We need to put money into the Capital Fund for 2018.

Polo Ridge and Platte Canyon

Relph and the city traffic engineer (first one on staff in ten years) have come up with a few solutions to the traffic problems on Mineral between Santa Fe and Platte Canyon.  He admitted that there was some bad planning involved contributing to the problem.  They have offered a three-phase plan to help.

1st Phase – restripe the lanes making the three lanes into two lanes for movement and the outside lanes for turn lanes.  They will create a wider median in the middle of Mineral that will help those turning to enter traffic.  There will be deflector posts to visually protect the left turn lane.

2nd Phase – A double left hand turn on Platte Canyon – that will improve the LOS.

3rd Phase – move the bike trails away from Mineral and deeper into the neighborhood and provide a raised pedestrian crossing.

Relph told us that traffic signals could lead to higher traffic accidents.  There are a series of tests to determine if a traffic signal is warranted.  (The series of tests determine if a signal is “warranted” – the tests are called warrants.)

He thought you had to have the citizens help to define the problems.

At this point the audience asked questions and raised concerns.

  • The bike lane on Mineral just east of Jack Ass Hill is only about 300 feet long. Can it be extended in order to get those that want to go north on Jack Ass Hill out of the Mineral traffic?  He said he would look into.
  • Citizen mentioned that a “chunk” of concrete feel down from the RR overpass onto Mineral tying up traffic for over 90 minutes. This person was unable to get to the Mineral Station Plan meeting as a result.
  • South Park residents asked for speed bumps to discourage traffic on Mineral from cutting through their neighborhood. Many of those drivers are speeding.  Relph said there are several different ways to calm traffic.  You can do that by narrowing the street, speed bumps (which can be noisy and how many is too many).  In his previous experience they would put in speed bumps for 6 months after a petition demonstrated a 70% approval from the neighbors.  After the 6 months another petition was circulated and if 70% approval were still present the bumps would be come permanent.   He said the city has a brochure on different calming techniques and encourage the citizens to look into them.
  • It was suggested to reduce the bike lanes on the north side of Mineral – there are trails off the street that the bikes could use.
  • The traffic circle on Elati north of Runyon has a citizen concerned about the safety of the kids. She did not like the traffic circle there – Relph said he did not like the way they are done in Littleton.
  • Angelo’s Road – There will be a right in and right out of Angelo’s from Santa Fe Drive.
  • Broadway and Dry Creek – the lines on the road have been changed due to the construction and it is not clear which lines are the right ones as the old blends in with the new when it’s raining at night.
  • Bowles and Santa Fe – Relph said that is an easier problem to solve than Santa Fe and Mineral. But an environmental study was required.
  • Windermere Dead-End by the Highline Canal – Relph called it poor planning. A solution might require the purchase of property.  Could allow local traffic during the day and closed during rush hours.
  • Last mile of County Line near Phillips – Relph said it would take the city, county and Centennial to widen the remainder of County Line and there is no funding. There was a request for a traffic signal at Phillips and County Line and Relph said it does not “warrant” a traffic signal.
  • The flashing left turn light at County Line by the Harley Davidson – a request was made for a turn light instead of the flashing light. Someone else thought there was a dedicated turn light in addition to the flashing light.
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