Jonathan from Lafayette writes, “What is driving you crazy? The population explosion in Lafayette and Louisville is causing grid lock on roadways. CDOT and local city planning says they have no plan to move forward to improve lanes to handle the population explosion. I use Highway 7 eastbound and there is stop and go traffic 119th to Sheridan Parkway during rush hour. That section takes 12 min. eastbound and 40 min. west bound on the same section of road. I believe on primary streets we should never encounter 4 miles of stop and go traffic. Also, no plans to have safe shoulders for bikes to travel. I would ride my bike to work, but there is no shoulder near the Erie airport turn off on Highway 7."
You are right Jonathan, that the north metro Denver area has seen an explosion of population, housing and employment in recent years. This has led to an increased numbers of commuters, traffic congestion and bike riding safety issues on many of the roads to the north including Highway 7. The explosive growth in the northern communities is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
In February 2014, CDOT conducted a study called the State Highway 7 Planning and Environmental Linkages Study (SH 7 PEL). It provided recommendations for transportation improvements on SH 7, from US 287 on the west, to US 85 on the east. The study also identified “both a desire and a need for transit service along the SH 7 corridor in the future,” and included transit recommendations.
Boulder and Adams counties have been awarded a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) grant to develop a detailed plan for a multi-jurisdictional Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route between downtown Boulder and downtown Brighton. The study will also conduct a PEL analysis on the portion of State Highway 7 between 75th Street and US 287 in Boulder County to provide recommendations for transportation improvements, consistent with those produced in the CDOT Highway 7 PEL Study.
One way CDOT thinks they can move people better is with bus rapid transit. CDOT tells me the State Highway 7 Bus Rapid Transit study is a cooperative partnership between Adams, Broomfield, and Boulder counties, the cities and towns along the SH 7 corridor, RTD, and CDOT. They logically call it the State Highway 7 Coalition. These two studies began in March 2016 and are anticipated to be completed in May 2017. Based on the recommendation of these studies and availability of funding, projects will be lunched to do transportation improvements.
In the meantime, there are already planned improvements going on at the Highway 7 and I-25 interchange. CDOT, in partnership with Adams County, City of Thornton, and City and County of Broomfield, are beginning the preliminary design of a diverging diamond interchange that will make the interchange look like the one at Highway 36 at McCaslin Blvd. They are also looking at including direct bus ramps to a Park and Ride next to the interchange and access to the future commuter north rail project. Right now, RTD’s north commuter line will stop at 124th Ave. with future plans to extend it to Highway 7 on the east side of I-25.
The design of this project has just begun and is anticipated to last until late summer 2017. CDOT doesn’t have funding set up yet for the final design or construction, but the preliminary design will help CDOT be ready when money is available to build.
Denver7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is about 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 and Twitter or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast.