Tempers run high during North Ford traffic talk

Residents say tragedy inevitable but city says it’s complicated

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/17/21

Several residents who live on or near North Ford Street in Golden expressed long-simmering frustration about what they feel are unsafely high vehicle speeds on the thoroughfare. That much was clear …

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Tempers run high during North Ford traffic talk

Residents say tragedy inevitable but city says it’s complicated

Posted

Several residents who live on or near North Ford Street in Golden expressed long-simmering frustration about what they feel are unsafely high vehicle speeds on the thoroughfare.

That much was clear from a Sept. 9 community meeting about the issue.

Golden Traffic Engineer Joseph Puhr began the meeting by explaining that residents have long voiced significant concerns about speeding in the area. However, he also said that traffic studies on Ford Street have determined that the street does not qualify for traffic calming measures based on the criteria spelled out in the city code.

“We’ve measured it dozens and dozens of times and every time you measure it you don’t really find an issue,” he said.

Despite that, he said the city recently added a series of bumpouts to the parking lanes on Ford between Seventh and Second Street in an attempt to reduce speeds. Previously, the city also held a public engagement process in which the city asked residents whether they would support the loss of on-street parking as a traffic calming measure.

Residents indicated that they would support eliminating some on-street parking for traffic calming provided it was not the parking in front of their residence, making the plan a non-starter.

Puhr also said the long-term solution for the speed and traffic concerns would likely come when Highway 93 is rebuilt so that cars can move past Heritage Road and U.S. 58 without getting stuck at long lights. Those changes are part of the long-term plans spelled out in the Golden Plan document agreed upon by the city and CDOT. However, Puhr acknowledged that pthose Highway 93 improvements may not be funded by the state for several years although he was confident it would eventually happen.

Puhr’s answers, however, didn’t sit well with the roughly 20 residents who attended the meeting and who appeared to be nearly unanimous in their belief that speeding on the street is an imminent danger that the city must do more to deal with now.

One of the residents, who did not provide her name during the meeting, said that she felt there were a variety of small interventions the city could undertake to deal with the problem.

“We’re not asking for calming measures, we’re not asking for more bumpouts, I think what I’m asking for is small interventions such as a radar sign to let people know how fast they are going,” she said. “Because I find myself that sometimes I’m going 30 mph right near Iowa and I don’t even notice it.”

Another resident who said he lived near the intersection of Alaska and Ford Streets emotionally brought up three recent accidents that have happened at the intersection, including one that involved a car flipping over. He said he worries about the safety of his dog and soon-to-be-born child as well as anyone who will inevitably die in the area.

“I am going to say right now there is going to be a (fatal) accident at some point and it’s going to be we all told you so,” he said.

During the meeting, residents pitched a variety of potential solutions ranging from installing speed bumps to stationing police officers on the street during busy times to ticket speeders.

However, Puhr responded that many of those interventions are often not ultimately as effective as residents might hope as studies suggest drivers typically speed once they are passed the cop or speed bump to make up for the time they lost. Several residents also said they would be willing to take measures into their own hands if the city did not act by raising money to put in their own traffic calming measures.

Many of those who spoke at the meeting also questioned the validity of the speed studies with some suggesting that drivers have a tendency to slow down when they notice the mechanism that measures speed.

But while the gulf remained between what residents and Puhr felt could and should be done about the issue, the meeting did produce some agreement about possible techniques to try to address the issue. Those included reviewing the signs along the street and likely both replacing existing signs and adding new ones.

“I can make sure that there are enough speed limit signs and improve the visibility of the ones that are there along this stretch of Ford,” said Puhr.

Puhr also said he would also add new signs informing drivers that vehicles over 10,000 pounds cannot drive on Ford Street prior to them actually getting on Ford Street. He said he would also request CDOT remove existing large signs directing drivers to Ford Street from other major roadways.
Several of the speakers, however, said that while they supported those steps, they did not feel they alone would be sufficient.

“This is so serious it needs to be taken care of,” said the speaker who had previously spoken about the crashes in front of his home and became increasingly emotional throughout the meeting. “The signs I think are excellent, but there is a bigger point that the data are not showing these three impacts that I think would steer you guys a different way.”

In response, Puhr said he reviews crash data and that the city is in the process of updating the process for determine which streets qualify for traffic calming measures and that crash data will be incorporated in that score, although they are not currently.

But that response again seem to inspire more frustration from residents eager to see the problem resolved more quickly.

“I think I speak to everyone that we are not trying to attack you guys,” she said. “We are really frustrated and it’s getting worse. We want positive change.”

Mayor Laura Weinberg, who was also in attendance, said she appreciated residents’ willingness to speak up for their neighborhood, which she said is what every neighborhood should do.

“I appreciate the frustration but I also know actually digging up a road or a sidewalk takes time,” she said. “So I think starting with the easy stuff, maybe some signs and maybe some enforcement makes sense even if it might not solve all the problems.”

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