Retooled Ford smooth so far

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Here’s the skinny on the skinnier Ford Street: The three-lane format seems to work.

The stretch of the street between 10th and 14th street had previously been two lanes in both directions. Starting in mid-September the city began a scheduled $90,000 resurfacing project. When the city restriped the street, they painted one lane both ways, with a central turn lane. The extra space was used to create wider turning radius space, and dedicated bicycle lanes.

Golden Public Works Director Dan Hartman said so far the reality of narrowing Ford Street has matched what the traffic model software had calculated, that decreasing lanes would not increase congestion.

“It will get better, but it’s very encouraging that we’re not seeing a big problem out there today,” Hartman said, explaining that the stop lights along Ford had not yet been reprogrammed to reflect the lane changes.

When the street narrowing was announced, members of the Downtown Business Association of Golden were skeptical of the benefits and concerned that traffic backups would result.

“In general it seems to be OK,” association chairman Roger Tapia said last week. “It just takes some time, but people will get used to it, because that’s just the way it is.”

Tapia said he takes his son to Golden High School most mornings, and his only major gripe with the lane changes is the lack of warning signs about only one lane of Ford continuing north, past the 14th intersection.

“There’s no warning and people are trying to get over at the last second,” Tapia said.

There had been concerns that traffic and tour buses from the Coors Tour parking lot, between 13th and 14th might have an issue with the new lane configuration. A spokesperson for MillerCoors declined to comment, saying the company was still evaluating the change.

John Boyle, owner of the Golden Mill Country Store at 1012 Ford, was also concerned about the reduction of lanes.

“But personally, it did me a favor by giving us a (left) turn lane. That’s helped immensely with customers and our delivery trucks,” Boyle said.

Traffic does back up along the street on occasion, according to Boyle, and he still wants to see what happens on Ford when Washington Avenue is closed for a special event, but that so far he could not complain.

Hartman said the city would conduct a traffic study once the traffic signals are recalibrated. The results of the traffic study and public input will then be presented to the City Council in a few months, to determine whether to keep the new lane configuration.