With a few pen strokes, years of failed negotiations and legal sparing were put to an end July 11, as officials with the city of Golden and the Colorado Department of Transportation signed an agreement regarding the future design of the U.S. Highway 6 and State Highway 93 corridor.
CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt and Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan participated in the formal signing ceremony, which was attended by several elected officials, including two Jefferson County commissioners, and Arvada Mayor Marc Williams.
Golden city leaders had long opposed regional transportation plans to complete the 470 beltway system, saying that invasive freeway modifications to U.S. 6 and Highway 93 would damage the Golden community, which would be cut in half by the changes. The most recent round of negotiations between CDOT and Golden proved successful, however, and in May, the seven-member City Council approved that agreement, 6-1.
Councilor Bob Vermeulen voted against the agreement in May, saying approval of the agreement gave the appearance of approving the entire beltway plan.
The July signing represented CDOT’s official acceptance of the Golden plan.
Commissioner Marcie Miller said she had been an active opponent of beltway plans for years, but was happy to see the agreement become a reality.
“We figured out what would work for our community. That’s what good government is, you find the way through,” Miller said.
The agreement sets parameters for “a shared vision” for long-term improvements to the roadways, including setting speed limits, road alignments, landscaping guidelines and sound mitigation for the highway sections through Golden’s city limits.
The agreement grants CDOT a plan for long-term improvements to the busy traffic corridor, allowing the department to increase lanes (including adding toll lanes), and remove intersections. In exchange, the city was able to keep speed limits at their current levels, and have many of the new freeway sections lowered beneath grade instead of creating overpasses. Other CDOT concessions included promising to maintain all current lanes as toll-free, providing improved landscaping, soundproofing, and also promising to keep the corridor to two lanes until traffic reaches certain congestion levels.
Funding for all of those upgrades remains a challenge.
“There are miles to go and a lot of pennies to gather along the way,” cautioned Councilwoman Saoirse Charis-Graves. Still, she said, she was happy to see the “Golden Plan” be officially adopted by CDOT.
“This is a great path forward but let’s not stop here, and continue working together,” Hunt said.