Golden City Council voted 6-1 to approve an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding future improvement plans for U.S. Highway 6 and State Highway 93. The council meeting was held Thursday, May 9.
The agreement sets parameters for “a shared vision” for those improvements, setting speed limits, alignment, landscaping and sound mitigation.
Ward 3 Councilman Bob Vermeulen cast the lone opposition vote.
“I feel this will be seen as us accepting the beltway,” Vermeulen said. He added that the agreement does not provide funding sources for any of the envisioned improvements.
More than 145 individuals attended the council meeting, with some having to walk down the street to watch the proceedings on a video screen in an overflow room in the city’s fire station.
A total of 28 area residents gave public comment on the issue, with most saying they were in favor. Golden Public Works Director Dan Hartman presented the agreement, after going into some of the history behind it.
“I’ve been at this 25 years with (CDOT), and this is by far the best good-faith effort,” Hartman said.
The agreement plan calls for many elements that Golden had long negotiated for:
• Current speed limits to remain: 55 mph from Heritage Road to 19th Street, and 45 mph for the rest of the corridor;
• The roadway would be lowered below grade in sections, allowing cross-streets to cross above;
• Natural earthen berms and other sound walls are called for to lower noise impacts of the road to Golden city standards of 55 decibels.
Hartman said the city compromised on some items.
While CDOT agreed to leave the highway corridor at four lanes wide, the agreement includes “congestion triggers” that would authorize the building of additional lanes. Those triggers would involve 75,000 vehicles per day being seen through the area over a four month period.
CDOT had also sought to include toll roads along the highways to help pay for future road improvements.
“The capacity lanes that are there today, will remain free,” Hartman said, describing that as crucial to Golden during negotiations.
The compromise was to allow CDOT to toll any new lanes that are built, including those created by the congestion trigger. Even before the congestion trigger, CDOT would be allowed to widen highway 93 in north Golden from two lanes to four, and toll the newly built portions.
The compromise agreement makes no mention about policy, or plans regarding the larger regional plans by CDOT and Jefferson County to build out the northwest quadrant of the 470 beltway system — consistently opposed by Golden.
Gwyn Green, a longtime member of the group Citizens Involved in the Northwest Quadrant, was the first member of the public to speak.
“”I have not and will never flinch from never supporting the beltway,” Green began. She added that in spite of that, she liked the compromise agreement, especially the speed and sound limitations since she lives close to the highways.
“It’s safe, slow and quiet. I’m impressed that it’s a compromise in our favor,” Ward 4 Councilman Bill Fisher said.
Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan said she was eager to shake off the city’s “NIMBY” label, and begin spending more city resources on improvements, instead of opposing CDOT.