Longmont May Readjust Pike Road Improvement Plan to Abate Resident Opposition

March 2, 2019
Traffic is seen on Pike Road near South Coffman Street in Longmont on Jan. 28. Longmont is planning improvements to the road between South Main Street and South Sunset Street, including the possibility of installing of concrete curb and gutter along the south edge of Pike Road near South Coffman Street to create a barrier between vehicles and nearby trees.

Planned improvements for Pike Road

• Installation of dedicated left-turn lanes for both eastbound and westbound Pike Road at South Coffman Street

• Installation of concrete curb and gutter along the southern edge of Pike Road in the vicinity of South Coffman Street “to provide a barrier between errant vehicles and nearby trees” and to remedy existing storm drainage issues.

• Realignment of South Pratt Parkway at Pike Road so traffic on South Pratt Parkway approaches Pike Road at a perpendicular angle rather than the current skewed angle.

• Addition of paved on-street bike lanes along the entire length of Pike Road.

• Installation of detached concrete sidewalks north of Pike Road from South Sunset Street to Left Hand Creek and from South Coffman Street to South Main Street.

• Installation of raised medians at various locations to provide safe passage across Pike Road and cross streets.

• Rehabilitation of the road’s aging existing asphalt pavement with limited replacement and overlay.

• Installation of a second westbound travel lane from South Main to South Coffman, intended to receive traffic from an additional left-turn lane for northbound South Main to westbound Pike Road.

Source: City of Longmont

Longmont officials are probing whether tweaks to the city’s planned Pike Road improvement project are feasible to abate opposition to their current vision by residents of neighborhoods along the street.

Residents of the Prospect New Town and Rainbow Ridge neighborhoods, among others, turned out at two meetings last month to voice their concerns with the project, lamenting the planned removal of 58 trees on Pike Road’s south side — out of the 238 there now, according to city officials.

“Does anyone enjoy walking along a hot, treeless street?” Prospect resident and homeowner’s association board member Linda Pryor said. “We would love to see a canopy of shady trees along Pike.”

Longmont plans to replace the trees removed from along Pike — which will mostly be those in the vicinity of South Coffman Street and Kristy Court — but the new trees might not get planted where the old ones were rooted.

“Any trees scheduled for removal have been evaluated by the city forrester to determine the health and feasibility of transplanting the trees. For any trees that are not transplanted, an equitable value of trees will either (be) planted on site or elsewhere in the city,” Longmont Civil Engineer Alden Jenkins said.

Worries have also been expressed that the road improvements planned would create an even greater “bottleneck” effect for traffic on the road that has experienced increased motor vehicle congestion in recent years.

“We received quite a bit of feedback about the project at the two public meetings, which is what we hoped for,” Jenkins said. “Based off the public comments there are changes we plan to make as well as changes that we are investigating further to determine their feasibility for inclusion in the project.”

The city has budgeted nearly $1.7 million for the project, which is aimed to boost accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians along Pike between South Main and South Sunset streets. Officials say the project will also improve safety for drivers at Pike’s intersection with Main, which the Colorado Department of Transportation has identified as an intersection experiencing a high frequency of broadside collisions.

Pike and Main saw the 12th-most collisions of any intersection in the city from 2013 to 2017, according to a city report compiled last year, with 92, including 15 involving at least one injury to a vehicle occupant and 21 that involved possible injuries.

Only one 12-foot travel lane in each direction is on Pike now, with dedicated left and right turn lanes at its every intersection except South Coffman Street, and there is no on-street bike infrastructure on the stretch of Pike being targeted for renovation.

CDOT has agreed to reimburse the city up to $685,000 in construction costs for the project so an additional left turn lane from northbound Main onto westbound Pike can be installed, and, to accommodate the increased traffic, a second westbound travel lane on Pike will be laid from Main to South Coffman Street.

Delays on eastbound Pike, though, are now caused by cars getting stacked up in the left turn lane as drivers try to get onto northbound Main, unable to make the turn in the time allotted by the green light because of the need to yield to oncoming traffic from across Main, said Rainbow Ridge residents Ray Petri and Beverly Rogers.

“If three cars can get through, it’s a miracle,” Rogers said.

They don’t see how the current plan will address that issue.

Residents already fear that several new developments arriving in the area of Pike and Hover Street — including a senior living facility and two new apartment housing complexes that will both include more than 200 units — will exacerbate the traffic problem on Pike.

While the Envision Longmont plan sets as a goal the conversion of Pike into an arterial roadway with more capacity, Petri also opposes expanding the road into a four-lane thoroughfare because of the increased traffic he thinks it will bring to his neighborhood.

“Trying to get out of Rainbow Ridge onto Pike even now during rush hour is almost impossible, unless you go down to Sunset where there is a light,” Petri said.

But when, and whether, more of Pike Road will be further expanded is unknown.

“This project is intended to address immediate needs such as deteriorated asphalt pavement as well as multimodal transportation and safety enhancements,” Jenkins said. ”... A timeline has not been established for when, or if, Pike Road eventually needs to be upgraded to full arterial standards.”

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz .

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