Hilltop residents vent over traffic, parking frustrations resulting from new Trader Joe's

DENVER - Neighbors who live just east of the new Trader Joe's on Colorado Boulevard say traffic has become a nightmare.

"There aren't enough parking spots," said Tim Russo. "When the lot gets full, customers look for spots on the narrow streets in the surrounding neighborhood."

Another neighbor told 7NEWS that there are traffic jams on Albion Street, especially on weekends.

Nearly 150 of those neighbors have signed a petition asking the city to find a solution.

"Our main concerns are the impact on street parking and traffic flow," said Joanne Bader, the woman who started up the petition drive. "These streets were built in the 1920s. They're very narrow and we've had neighbors' cars hit by vehicles coming out of the Trader Joe's parking lot. They're hit-and-runs."

Concerned residents packed a Town Hall meeting Thursday night to vent and to try to find a solution.

"We support Trader Joe's," Bader said. "We want to work with them to find a solution."

The Town Hall meeting was hosted by Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman.

When asked what the city can do to help relieve the congestion, Susman said, "Traffic Engineering is going to go in and see if we need some signage to tell people how far they can park from a driveway."

She also said public works is stepping up parking enforcement in the neighborhood.

When asked if traffic congestion will die down once the novelty of the new store wears off, Susman replied, "I think it will."

She said the grocery chain plans to build upward of 15 to 20 stores in metro Denver, and those additional stores will "ease some of the pressure on this store."

"I'm pretty sure this will settle down," she said. "I'd give it six or eight months."

In an email sent to 7NEWS, Trader Joe's Director of Public Relations, Alison Mochizuki said: "Trader Joe’s cares about our neighbors and being part of the Denver community.  Typically, when a new store opens, traffic is higher than normal and eventually lessens.  Presently, we have parking specialists helping to direct the flow of traffic in and around our parking lot from 8A.M.-8P.M.  We appreciate the community’s patience with the opening of our new location and we look forward to being a positive addition to the neighborhood for years to come."

Russo said the longer the traffic problems continue, the more likely tempers will flare.

"There are a lot of hikers, a lot of bikers, a lot of walkers and people with strollers," he said. "You've got all these cars coming into the city from who knows where. I just hope everyone is paying attention."

Susman says it was just a few years ago that 30,000 cars a day traveled through the neighborhood when University Hospital was still in operation a block away.

"Some residents have gotten used to not having that traffic," she said. "But Denver is growing. The population is increasing and commercial areas are being redeveloped."

Susman says she wants to hear about residents' concerns and suggestions they may have for a fix.

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