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What's Driving You Crazy?: Why isn't there an acceleration lane for Central Park traffic from westbound I-70?

Central Park I-70 turn
Posted at 6:25 AM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 09:05:40-04

John in Denver writes, “What’s driving you crazy? Why isn't there an acceleration lane when turning north onto Central Park from the westbound off-ramp from I-70? There is already space for one, but pavement markings require a turn into the oncoming traffic lane over the Central Park I-70 bridge. The topography of the bridge also makes it difficult to see oncoming traffic. An acceleration lane would solve that problem and be much safer.”

That is an area of Denver that is seeing explosive growth and much more traffic along with it. Not just people driving, but people walking and biking as well. When I took a look at that turn, I could see the problem with the limited sight distance from the elevation of the bridge. And yes, there is room to repaint the road to create a dedicated acceleration lane on northbound Central Park.

However, in a multimodal world, changing the road layout for one mode can change the safety and efficiency for another. In this case, adding an acceleration lane to allow for vehicle traffic from westbound I-70 to go north on Central Park Blvd could make that movement safer for drivers. However, the city of Denver believes that change in the road layout would make the road less safe for pedestrians and bike riders.

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“An acceleration travel lane would create more conflicts between pedestrians in the crosswalk and drivers turning off the highway,” says Heather Burke with Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “DOTI always tries to find a balance between keeping people moving and the safety of all commuters, especially our most vulnerable roadway users (people on foot, on bikes, and on motorcycles), which also aligns with Denver’s Vision Zero Program.

DOTI believes they might be able to make that merge safer by making a change to the traffic signal. Right now, there is a sign prohibiting a right turn on red but only when pedestrians are present. I was told traffic engineers would look at further restricting right turns only allowing them on a green light and not on a red light. That prohibitive right will hold traffic on the ramp and reduce the conflict between right turners and northbound drivers coming past that limited sight area over the I-70 bridge.

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 iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.