Council decides to yank ‘fishhook’

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By a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Golden City Council approved plans at their June 6 meeting to close the “fishhook” westbound on-ramp at Clearview Parkway/Boyd Street and Highway 58 to make room for a sound-blocking dirt berm.

The vote came after Deputy Public Works Director Vince Auriemma presented information on “two distinct, but definitely related projects.”

The first project begins in the next few weeks when CDOT will begin bridge replacement work on the Highway 58 bridge over Ford Street. The bridge, built in 1957, will cost the state an estimated $9.1 million to replace. The work will reduce Highway 58 to one lane in both directions.

“They’re estimating at least 11 months for construction,” said Auriemma.

During the construction, the fishhook on-ramp will remain closed. Auriemma said that due to the sharp turn, and proximity to the Washington Street off-ramp, CDOT proposed closing the ramp permanently. He said that the ramp closure could allow the city to build an earthen berm to block roadway noise for nearby residents.

Ten residents who live nearby spoke at the meeting.

“I listen to those big 18-wheelers going westbound, and when they’re shifting or breaking they’re extremely loud,” said Terry Sanchez.

She added that in her 16 years at that location, the road noise occasionally rattles her whole house.

City sound studies found the neighborhood experiences decibel levels ranging from 62 to 69 due to highway noise. With the berm installed, Auriemma said the study predicted sound levels would be brought down to 56 or less.

Normal conversation is set at around 60 decibels. On the decibel scale, 70 decibels is twice as loud as 60, with the high 60’s being identified as the level at which most people report irritation.

The city planning goals calls for 55 decibels.

One local resident said the projected sound benefits were not worth the inconvenience of losing the on-ramp, but most of the speakers echoed a sentiment Sanchez had shared.

“I use the fishhook every day, but enhancing our quality of life is much more important,” Sanchez said.

The City Council agreed, and voted unanimously to approve the ramp closure and building of the berm.

Auriemma said the dirt berm, which will be identical in design as existing ones along Highway 93, would cost $50,000 to $80,000. He said it would take more than a year to find the required 6,000 cubic feet of dirt.

One percent growth ordinance

Also discussed at the meeting was the possible modification of the city’s one-percent residential growth limit policy. The proposed changes include an end to the senior housing exemptions in 2014, while adding more flexibility for potential developers in proximity to the new Light Rail station. Starting in 2015, the new policy would actually require the city to average a maximum 0.9 percent annual growth.

A first reading of the proposed changes will be given at the Thursday, June 14 council meeting. A public hearing on the proposed changes is scheduled for the city’s July 11 meeting.

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