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Driving You Crazy: When will the E470/Quincy exit ramps get traffic signals?

Viewer: It's very unsafe to exit the highway!
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Posted at 11:17 AM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 17:27:10-05

Julie from Aurora writes, "What is driving you crazy? When will the E-470 and Quincy exit/entry ramps get lights? It’s very unsafe to exit the highway.”

Julie, the E-470 Authority is well aware of the problems with the interchange at Quincy Ave. And this is an issue that is more complicated that just hanging up a traffic light and calling it good. There are many working parts with this issue.

I checked with Neil Thomson, E-470’s chief engineer, who told me they have been looking at fixing that interchange for awhile now.  

“The Authority has partnered with the City of Aurora and Arapahoe County to perform a traffic study of the long-term operation of the Quincy/E-470 ramps and the Gun Club Road/Quincy intersection,” Thompson said.

Part of the complexity of the fix involves working around the county plan to widen Quincy under the tollway, as well as improve the design and flow of traffic at the Quincy and Gun Club intersection. That work is scheduled to begin next summer. 

Thompson said they will wait until they get the results of the study, expected in early 2017, before deciding to move ahead with any signal installation.  

“If the study determines that traffic signals are warranted at E-470’s Quincy ramps, we would then work with the City of Aurora, who governs this section of Quincy Avenue, to facilitate the installation of the traffic signals,” Thompson said. 

At the public meeting held on Sept. 14, 2016 at the Arapahoe County Fairground regarding the intersection improvements at the Quincy and Gun Club interchange, project managers said before a traffic light can be installed, one of nine “warrants” needs to be met. That includes criteria like 8 hour or 4 hour vehicular volumes, peak hour volume, pedestrian volume and accident history. The county believes that it is likely that warrants will be met, but the study would confirm that belief.

The next step would then be to “determine funding responsibility." In other words, who will pay for the traffic lights if they decide to install them?

The City of Aurora and E-470 would have to work that out. If they do all this in time, they could add the signal project to the Quincy/Gun Club project, but they would have to hurry. Tentative construction at Quincy/Gun Club would begin with utility relocation in January with formal construction of the intersection beginning July 2017. Completion by September 2018.

They said the signals could also be installed separately from the Quincy/Gun Club project. Arapahoe County said those details will be worked out in the next several months, assuming the study confirms warrants being met.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

Another wrinkle in this whole thing is Arapahoe County, E-470, and Aurora are currently looking into options to relocate the northbound E-470 ramps at Quincy Avenue. This is just in the discussion phase, so no commitment beyond an effort to study the issue has been made by any side.

All agencies involved know they need to fix the interchange. The Gun Club/Quincy intersection currently is graded as F for level of service during the morning and evening rush hours. Part of the delay has been the multi-jurisdictional coordination, as CDOT owns the north leg of this intersection, the City of Aurora owns the center 60 feet of Quincy Avenue and Arapahoe County owns the south leg of the intersection as well as the portions of Quincy Avenue outside the center 60 feet.

The new intersection layout is called a Partial Continuous Flow Intersection (PCFI). It is a unique design that you can see in action from this animation video. The benefit to the PCFI is that the north/ south left turn movement on Gun Club Road is accommodated at the same time the north and south bound thru movements are occurring on Gun Club Road.  This significantly helps traffic flow through the intersection.

The original cost estimate in 2014 was $12.75 million; the most recent estimate is now $16.6 million. As part of the design process, designers are still working through a number of details and variables effecting the costs.

This is a much longer explanation that I’m sure you were hoping for Julie. My gut tells me when all the work is complete on Quincy under E-470 and at the Gun Club interchange, you will have a traffic light from the tollway off-ramp. It might be a year or so before you see it. 

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