Joe from Denver writes:“What’s driving you crazy? Hi Jayson! I have a question about the construction on Yosemite blvd at 225. I live off Yosemite and about 6 months ago CDOT came in, put in new traffic lights, dug up all the curb ramps, and removed two 225 access lanes. Then they left. That was 6 months ago! Can you please check on this project? They haven't even turned the new signals on. I couldn't find anything on CDOT’s site and its starting to feel like they've left us high and dry. Thanks for your help! You guys rock!”
That construction is a project that Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is working on.
The largest part of it involves replacing the old span wire signals hanging over Yosemite Boulevard at the north and south exit ramps from I-225 with new poles and new signals. Those span-wire traffic signals were very old, covered in lead paint and outdated. In general, span-wire signals are vulnerable to extreme winds like from thunderstorms so they needed to be replaced.
The main reason the project has been put on hold for the last several months is that there is still no power to the new traffic signals. Yes, you read that right. No power for the new signal… at a working traffic signal.
“We currently have a single left turn lane open as a temporary treatment while we work with Xcel Energy to get power for the new signals and remove the old ones,” said Vanessa Lacayo, marketing and communication specialist for Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Xcel will need to install a new power source for the updated traffic signals, which requires additional time/work to establish. We are working with them to complete this project as soon as possible.”
So, while DOTI waits for Xcel Energy, Xcel has been waiting for Denver.
“These projects can include redesigning our system to install new electric equipment, securing permits from the city and proper easement approvals before installing new equipment and getting that work properly inspected,” Xcel Energy spokesperson Michelle Aguay said. “Weather can impact any of these timelines, as can delays with any of these steps in the process.”
The current signal equipment relies on power from the streetlights. Xcel tells me the new and improved signals need a dedicated power source, thus new power delivery equipment.
This power issue isn’t just affecting the new lights on Yosemite Boulevard at I-225. The new signals north of I-225 at Nassau and Mansfield avenues are also waiting for fresh power before those new signals can be turned on.
“We are waiting for Xcel to provide power for those signals also. They are part of a separate project from the project at I-225 and Yosemite,” Lacayo said.
“Crews have been working on the intersection this week. In the meantime, the old traffic signals in the area are still operational,” Aguay added.
Once Xcel completes their work and gets the new dedicated power source for all the updated signals established and inspected, DOTI’s goal is to have the project at Yosemite Boulevard completed, including finishing the new sidewalks, within a couple months, weather permitting.
When operational, the new signals will be more structurally sound and include LED lights, which use less power and will cost less money for the city to operate.
Meanwhile, most of the old span-wire signals and material will be recycled. Denver keeps the old signal poles, which they sometimes use for emergency replacements when poles are knocked down by a traffic collision or other problem.
The original estimated cost for this project in January 2021 was $1,178,832. DOTI says the city is paying for this project with federal funding received under the Highway Safety Improvement Program, which supports projects that aim to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries through infrastructure-related highway safety improvements.
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 25 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 iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.