Driving You Crazy: The bus lane on Arapahoe Ave in Boulder is a waste of space, viewer says

The buses come to infrequently to justify the lane

Kurt from Boulder writes, “What is driving you crazy? There is a stretch in Boulder on Arapahoe Ave from 75th St. to 63rd Street where CDOT came in and installed a dedicated bus lane and removed a traffic lane. It is now taking up to 15-30 mins or more on occasion to travel through this 3-mile corridor. The problem is that a bus comes through very infrequently. It's a ton of wasted space.”

 

I can relate to your frustration Kurt. It still seems like a waste to me to have the bus lanes on Lincoln Street and Broadway in downtown Denver closed to all traffic during off peak commuting times. Maybe that bus lane could be shared with high occupancy vehicles or electric cars to maximize its usefulness. Since I will never be mayor, I will just have to deal with it.

That section of Arapahoe Avenue between 28th Street and 75 Street is a state highway. The western end is in the City of Boulder with the eastern end in unincorporated Boulder County. CDOT worked with Boulder, the city and county, to develop the improvements you mentioned several years ago.

Boulder Public Works says the two block section, between 63 Street and 65 Street on Arapahoe Ave includes a “Business Access and Transit” lane or BAT lane. They say this lane acts mostly as a bus lane but is also an acceleration and deceleration lane for general traffic going to or from business on Arapahoe Ave. This section also serves as a transition between the six-lane highway to the west with the two-lane highway to the east.

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Jean Sanson, Senior Transportation Planner with Boulder Public Works/Transportation disagrees with your assertion about the removal of a traffic lane to construct the BAT lane and its effectiveness in moving traffic efficiently.

“Your viewer’s statements about the improvements made during this project are inaccurate. Prior to the CDOT project, there was one lane of traffic in each direction between 63 Street and 75 Street. The CDOT project maintained these two travel lanes and constructed a center turn lane through the entire section, as well as wide shoulders on the east end and the BAT lanes on the west end. These improvements allow vehicles to turn on and off the corridor without having to block these through lanes, which greatly improved the operation to this corridor. The project also constructed bike lanes and a multi-use path which allows bicycles and pedestrians to be on the corridor without being in conflict with through traffic. The corridor operates much more efficiently than it did previous to the CDOT project. And, these changes were a significant improvement in safety for all modes of travel using the corridor.”

Sanson admits to me though that this part of Arapahoe Ave remains more congested than the city would like but she adds that congestion has decreased than before the BAT lane.

“It is understandable that some people who drive this corridor would wish that the state, county and city do more to try to reduce the congestion, such as constructing more lanes on Arapahoe. But this is not something our staff or policy makers would recommend. Additional through lanes might provide temporary relief, but transportation studies and history show that cars would fill these additional lanes until the road becomes just as congested as it is today,” Sanson says.

Boulder county transportation planners believe added traffic from additional lanes would induce demand, making not only the Arapahoe Ave corridor more congested but also increasing traffic on nearby roads, making those intersections and roads more congested than they are right now.

City of Boulder policy makers have determined that the traditional approach to managing congestion by adding more lanes would not improve safety, nor would they be a wise or cost-effective use of the city’s resources. The city’s Transportation Master Plan  doesn’t encourage capacity improvements.

The city of Boulder has created the East Arapahoe Transportation Plan where they would like to completely redesign the street between Folsom and 75th Streets. The redesign includes repurposing the existing general-purpose travel lanes to accommodate a combination of Bus Rapid Transit, High Occupancy Vehicles, right-turning vehicles and new shared technologies such as autonomous/connected vehicles.

The city believes once Arapahoe Ave is rebuilt all commuters, including car drivers, will benefit from decreased travel times. The city knows that while commuters would like the rebuild to happen right now, implementation will take many years and will require a phased approach. If you would like to learn more or give your two cents in person, an open house is scheduled for February 15, 2018 to present the recommendation option to the public.

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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