Driving You Crazy: Can Aurora fix the Tower Road bottleneck at Smith Road?

It backs up to I-70 every day

Ken from Aurora writes, “What’s driving you crazy? Can you look in to if something can be done for turning from Tower road to 38th ave going south to east & going north to west from Tower. There are turning signal's on Tower from the west & east. Why not from the north and south. Also can something be done with bottle neck on Tower from I-70 to Smith road. People are in the turn lane to turn right and jumping over into the left lane to keep straight”.

 

Ken, often I hear from drivers who would like a dedicated turn light from one busy road to another busy road. At the 38th/40th Ave and Tower Road intersection there is only one movement, southbound to eastbound, that has a turn arrow. All the other left turns are treated as a yield to oncoming traffic.

Aurora’s traffic manager, Anna Bunce, tells me there are certain criteria that must be met before they add a turn arrow for a specific turn.

“These include consideration for number of lanes, posted speed limit, sight distance, volume of traffic making left turns, volume of opposing through/right turn traffic, accident history, etc. The northbound and southbound left turn movements at this intersection have not yet met the necessary criteria, but will be re-examined as part of the city of Aurora’s impending citywide traffic signal timing study”.

   MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

If that signal timing study show the need for turn arrows the city will need to buy more than just a few more lights. The current traffic signal pole and mast arms for the northbound and southbound directions are too short to support the required standard left turn arrow lights. That means the intersection will have to be partially reconstructed in order to put up the new lights. That costs money and right now the city doesn’t have that money to make the upgrade but that could change in the future if the work is deemed a priority. 

As for the problem farther south on Tower Road, obviously drivers who start off in the dedicated right turn lane and don’t turn but go straight is a major safety problem. If you asked any of those drivers why they do it they would tell you they are frustrated with how Tower shrinks from two lanes to just one lane south of Smith Road. The design of Tower Road is the problem as it comes down to the overall width of Tower Road. It is just too narrow to allow for public works to do anything but to end the second lane at Smith. Aurora’s traffic manager, Anna Bunce also told me no changes will be made until Tower Road is widened from the current one lane each way configuration between Smith Road and Colfax. And that is dependent on the development of adjacent properties.

The best way to deal with the frustration of watching drivers pull that move is to let Aurora police know you would like them to come take a look and increase enforcement. There are signs in place and the pavement markings are in place to direct drivers to get over if they plan to continue south of Tower Road. Not making the turn and continuing on south violates several traffic laws.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, and Podbean

 

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