W Rail Line: Mapping the road ahead

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Lakewood used a creative and interactive way to find out from residents how connections along the W Rail line are going, and what needs to be worked on.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the city, RTD and several consulting groups laid out a 15-foot-by-40-foot map of the line, and invited people to write their comments about what needs work and where directly on the map.

“We want to get as much public input as possible on the things we still need to do, and how things are going now that the line has been open for six months,” said Ben Waldman, transportation and engineering manager with the city. “We’ve had so many public meetings, but we thought instead of that this would be the best way to get out and hear from people.”

Waldman said the impetus for the meeting came from the fact that during the whole planning and building process of the line, the city told residents that there would be follow up to see what kind of work still needed to be done.

All along the map, riders posted comments about sidewalks needing improvement, lack of trail connections at certain points and places where there are bike and pedestrian conflicts.

“We want to see where improvements can be made for walking and biking safety,” said Carlos Hernandez, part of the consulting group that is working on the project. “We sent out invitations to 5,000 people who live along the line so we could get input from people who live right on the line.”

According to Waldman, improvements are already planned along Wadsworth, thanks to a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation. In several phases there is going to be a widening of Wadsworth, and improvement of the sidewalks along it, which Waldman said are currently subpar and not ADA accessible. There will also be the removal of some drainage pipe crossings.

There are other projects coming down the line, like building a roundabout at the Lamar Station, and the addition of public art to many of the stations.

One of the things that resident David Rothenburger would like to see is an improvement on some of the bike connections and trails.

“I’m a runner and use these trails a lot, so I’ve seen the places that need to be fixed,” he said.

Waldman said that all the comments gathered by the public will be taken by the consulting groups, who will organize it and find out what the most pressing issues are.

“They’ll make recommendations for improvements and prioritize them, since we have only so much funding,” he said. “Once they have it all ready, it will be presented to city council, some time in March.”