State funding next step for beltway

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Western Beltway Plan watchers have had a lot to look over this month with a major Colorado Department of Transportation agreement with the city of Golden, and state transportation funding is up for grabs.

On May 9, the city of Golden ended more than 20 years of contention with CDOT by agreeing to a shared development vision for the U.S. Highway 6 and State Highway 93 corridor.

That section of roadway was initially studied by CDOT as one of the last links in the 470 beltway design.

Initial CDOT plans envisioned the corridor as being six lanes across, with an elevated freeway and speed limits as high as 70 mph.

After years of negotiations, the leaderships of CDOT and Golden reached a joint agreement.

The pact would keep speed limits within their current range of 45-55 mph, include better sound mitigation, and limit the corridor to four lanes until traffic reaches volume levels of at least 70,000 vehicles a day.

The agreement does not address the broader issue of completing a regional beltway link.

John Putnam, special counsel to the city of Golden, said he would anticipate CDOT officials signing the agreement in “months, but not many months.”

He cautioned city officials that the agreement could be tossed out by future CDOT or Golden city councils.

“The ultimate protection for the city is to put some of those items in place in plans and in concrete,” Putnam said.

Golden has already taken two steps in that direction.

The council approved $150,000 for preliminary design engineering on portions of the new plan.

The city also applied for some of CDOT’s Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnership (RAMP) funding to help bring the agreed-upon plan into existence, beginning with improvements to the U.S. 6 and 19th Avenue intersection.

Beltway efforts

At the county level, meetings concerning the $750,000 Western Beltway study have continued.

At the county’s May 14 meeting the three Jeffco commissioners talked with Western Beltway Study’s project manager Lee Kellar, who is with the firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The beltway meeting included a review of initial RAMP applications, which contained requests for several sections of the planned beltway ramp.

CDOT is scheduled to report back to Golden and Jeffco on May 31 about which projects had been narrowed down for final consideration of funding.

The county meeting also included a report from public relations firm CRL Associates regarding outreach efforts with the public and elected officials, done as part of the Western Beltway study.

“I think it’s fair to say nobody feels warm and fuzzy about the name ‘Beltway,’” CRL Chief Executive Maria Garcia Berry said, sparking off a brief discussion about the project’s future “branding.”

Kellar also distributed draft visuals from the beltway study, showing the entire proposed route, including the future Jefferson Parkway, and associated interchanges.

“Everything in Golden’s plan is included, verbatim,” Kellar said.