Jeffco engineers have pieced together the Western Beltway in increments for the past 45 years.
As the project circles back to the west, developers had an open house on Sept. 10 at the Jeffco Fairgrounds, showcasing the history and progression of the transportation project, and inviting public feedback on possible funding options for the remaining segments.
Although the segments are still in the planning phase, the four portions left to discuss, design, and construct are the Interlocken Loop; the Jefferson Parkway; Highway 93 to the northern limits of Golden and its continuation to U.S. 6 in Golden.
Open house visitors got a chance to weigh in on potential funding options like increased property tax, sales tax, and license plate fees. One option that received the most votes was funding through tolling, with increased license plate fees coming in a close second, and a tolled managed lane in third.
“It’s going to happen,” Rex Davis of unincorporated Jeffco said about the WestConnect project. “The thing we can only do is ensure it happens in a good manner,” with little impact on residents.”
An agreement was made earlier this year between CDOT and the city of Golden to relocate Highway 93 to the west so its alignment is consistent with Golden’s desire to maintain current speed limits, develop structures to help mitigate noise, and provide opportunities for pedestrian crossing.
As the city and county continue to work together, there is still one more issue facing Golden: The impact a toll funded highway will have on Golden’s city streets. Traffic in the city could increase should commuters decide to use “side streets” as a way to avoid toll costs.
“Implementation of any tolling option, all-toll or managed lanes, can have several positive and negative aspects,” Kevin French transportation and engineering director for Jeffco said.
“One negative aspect is the shifting of traffic by folks unwilling to pay tolls or sit in congested lanes of traffic. The reality is that there needs to be a reasonable, competing alternative that folks will use and there really isn’t a good option for folks that use State Highway 93/U.S.-6 through Golden,” French said.
Improvements would be studied in more detail if and when the projects move forward, French added.
For more information about WestConnect including illustrative plans go to www.westconnectjeffco.com.