October 20, 2018

Golden’s Two Main Options for Keeping the Beltway Out of Town

Over the next month or so, the Golden community and the Golden City Council will need to evaluate our two major options for keeping the beltway out of Golden. Each of the two options involve trade-offs and they both have pros and cons.

Option #1: Golden can continue to fight the building of the Jefferson Parkway five miles north of Golden but make no progress on fixing existing and future transportation problems on U.S. 6 and Highway 93 in town.

or

Option #2: Golden can reach an agreement with Jefferson County that allows us to begin implementing Golden’s own Muller Plan for improving City connections and protecting against traffic impacts on 6 and 93 in exchange for not suing to stop the Jefferson Parkway north of town.

Over the next couple of weeks, the city will put up a website explaining both of the options and those trade-offs so that everyone in the community can ask hard questions, kick the tires, and weigh in with your thoughts.

Here are a few questions I encourage everyone to ask about both of these options:

  1. What are the trade-offs with each option? What does Golden gain and what does Golden give up?
  2. What are the risks with each option?
  3. What are the impacts to Golden of traffic growth with or without the Jefferson Parkway, and what are the additional impacts that occur if the Jefferson Parkway is built?
  4. Regarding Option #1: if Golden sues to stop the Jefferson Parkway outside of Golden, what will it cost, what is the likelihood of Golden prevailing, and what are the consequences if we lose? When it comes to the courts, no outcome is ever certain, regardless of the strength of our case.
  5. Regarding Option #2: if Golden agrees not to sue to stop the Jefferson Parkway north of Golden and, in exchange, Golden makes progress on the Muller Plan improvements, how much does that improve transportation and neighborhood connectivity in Golden, and how much does that strengthen the City’s ability to ensure that no one ever is able to build a six- or eight-lane high-speed beltway through Golden?

I strongly encourage everyone to become informed about both of our options for trying to keep the beltway out of Golden, and about the trade-offs of both.

Keeping the Beltway Out of Golden: Neighborhood Meetings Scheduled

As part of community conversation about how best to keep the beltway out of Golden, we’ve scheduled four neighborhood open houses in late January and early February.  You’ll have a chance to review the history of Golden’s beltway fight, compare the two main options for continuing to keep the beltway out of Golden, get all your questions answered, and weigh in with your thoughts.  We’ll also have updated maps and descriptions of Golden’s community-based Muller Plan, our own plan for fixing transportation issues in Golden like noise, pollution, congestion, neighborhood connections, and safety.

  • Southern Neighborhoods: Monday, Jan. 31 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Shelton Elementary
  • Central Neighborhoods: Tuesday, Feb. 1  6:30-8:30 p.m. at Fossil Trace Clubhouse
  • Northern Neighborhoods: Wednesday, Feb. 9  6:30-8:30 p.m. at Mitchell Elementary
  • Daytime Open House: Wednesday, Feb. 9  1-3 p.m. at City Council Chambers

 

 

Potential Resolution to the Beltway Fight

The City of Golden has been fighting the idea of a new superhighway through our valley for two decades, and we’ve been very successful so far: there is no superhighway, CDOT abandoned plans to build this superhighway, and even the proponents have now scaled back their proposal to a proposed ten-mile stretch of highway well north of town. One serious downside of the fight, however (in addition to the cost to the city), has been an inability to make virtually any of the seriously needed transportation improvements within the city. We know what we want in Golden. Golden’s Muller Plan detailed how we would rebuild all of the major intersections on U.S. 6 and Highway 93 in the city and make other improvements along the 6/93 Corridor to reduce speed, reduce noise, reduce congestion, and better connect our west-side neighborhoods with the rest of Golden. But the ongoing fight over the beltway has made it impossible to make any but the most modest of these improvements.

Golden’s position has been that we would fight hard to protect our community from harm and that – at the same time – we would be open-minded about the possibility of resolving the dispute if we could reach a reasonable agreement with the beltway proponents that meets Golden’s needs. We’ve had on-and-off-again discussions with the proponents for a long time, and in recent months Jefferson County made some key concessions that gave the negotiations some traction they didn’t have earlier. I believe that the agreement we are negotiating – if and only if all the pieces come together – would be good for Golden. Why? Golden’s sole concession would be to adopt a neutral position on their plan to build a ten-mile toll highway from Highway 93 (a little north of 64th) around the east side of the Wildlife Refuge to Highway 128 which they call the Jefferson Parkway. In other words, we would no longer fight their attempts to build a highway we don’t think many people will use, five miles north of Golden, that we don’t believe will have much impact on Golden.

In exchange for this, Golden would have:

  1. An agreement with the County that codifies all of our community protection requirements (keeps noise levels down, restricts 6 and 93 to four lanes through Golden, keeps speeds at 45, dramatically improves neighborhood connectivity, etc.);
  2. Golden’s highest priority project (rebuilding the intersection at U.S. 6 and 19th using Golden’s own design) would become Congressman Perlmutter’s highest priority for federal funds (not a guarantee but it does provide a high likelihood of funding); and
  3. CDOT would buy-in to the agreement (helping ensure that they enable these projects within Golden rather than obstructing them).

In addition, Golden would retain its ability to fight against any other toll highway proposal and any attempt to impose inappropriate projects or impacts on Golden. Moreover, we could substantially reduce the amount the city spends every year on this fight and spend it on other community priorities.

A number of folks associated with CINQ are expressing a different view. They believe that stopping the proposed Jefferson Parkway is more important than making appropriate, Muller Plan-style transportation improvements within Golden. While we all share the same goal of doing what’s best for Golden, and while many of the CINQ folks have worked very hard on this beltway fight for a long time, reasonable people sometimes disagree. If I have to choose, I believe getting appropriate transportation improvements within Golden is more important than stopping the Jefferson Parkway.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t ever have to make those kinds of trade-offs between different goals. In a perfect world, Golden would be able to stop all inappropriate highway construction in and north of town and make all of the improvements we want within the city. But the reality has been that in stopping highway construction north of town (which we may or may not be able to do for much longer), we’ve also made it impossible to make any of the improvements Golden residents really want within our community. This agreement, if Jefferson County is able to meet all of Golden’s terms, seems like a reasonable way to move forward on the things Golden residents care most about (what happens within the city) while still protecting Golden from harmful impacts.

Whether we can make this agreement come together is still an open question. While Golden and Jeffco have agreed in principle, there are still quite a few details to be worked out, we would still need to nail down the commitments from Congressman Perlmutter and Governor-elect Hickenlooper, and we still need to do our thorough due diligence to make sure we haven’t missed anything and that we maintain all of our important community protections.

City Council held a special study session last week (scroll down to the November 30 special study session and click on “video”) to brief the community on the potential agreement, and we are working now on some updated information, including updated drawings showing what build-out along U.S. 6 and Highway 93 in Golden would eventually look like. I also encourage you to consider CINQ’s perspective. As of the time I’m posting this blog entry, their latest newsletter doesn’t seem to be up on their web site yet but I suspect it will go up soon. I welcome your thoughts and questions. You can post them here on this blog or send an email to citycouncil@cityofgolden.net.