AP NEWS

Boulder County to Present Staff Suggestions for Transportation Master Plan Updates

March 16, 2019
Traffic on U.S. 287 near the intersection of Colo. 7 on Thursday.

If you go

Upcoming public meetings about Boulder County staff recommendations for updating Boulder County Transportation Master Plan:

• Boulder County Planning Commission: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, third-floor hearing room, Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder. Public testimony will be taken.

• Joint transportation planning open house with Boulder County, city of Boulder and University of Colorado, including panel discussion: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Millennium Harvest House Ballroom, 1345 28th St., Boulder.

• Louisville open house to review County Transportation Master Plan update recommendations, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 2, Kestrel 55+ Community Room, 1130 S. Kestrel Lane, Louisville.

• Longmont open house to review County Transportation Master Plan update recommendations, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 4, Ron Stewart Parks and Open Space Building, 5201 St. Vrain Road, Longmont.

Further information: BoCoTMP.com

Boulder County officials say the county’s six-year-old Transportation Master Plan needs updating, and its staff has been working for months on preparing possible revisions.

Next week, the county Transportation Department is to unveil the initial draft of its recommended updates, which will be presented during a set of public meetings where residents can comment on those suggestions.

The draft recommendations — based in part on public suggestions made last year, after the update got under way — include policies, programs and proposed projects “that will help Boulder County Transportation continue to develop a multimodal transportation system that will serve the public far into the future,” according to a news release announcing the scheduled meetings.

“Now the public is asked once again to review and provide feedback on the recommended updates developed using public input,” the county staff said.

George Gerstle, director of the Boulder County Transportation Department, said the Transportation Master Plan “is our road map for the development and maintenance of the county’s transportation network, so current and future residents, workers, and visitors can live their lives while preserving what makes this place so special.

“We want to make sure everyone who lives, works, and visits Boulder County has a convenient, sustainable, affordable, and safe way to get to where they’re going,” Gerstle said in a statement.

“We need to figure out how to move people back and forth,” he said in a Thursday interview.

Facing numerous challenges

The county’s draft updates will also be made available for review and comment on a county website, BoCoTMP.com , possibly as early as Monday or Tuesday, officials said, but community members can also visit with staff in-person at any of several upcoming meetings and open houses:

The first will be a 1:30 p.m. Wednesday staff master plan update status report to the Boulder County Planning Commission during that panel’s 1:30 p.m. Wednesday meeting in the third-floor hearing room in the Boulder County Courthouse. Public testimony will be taken at that meeting.

Then, Boulder County’s work on revising its transportation master plan, along with information about comparable and collaborative efforts underway by the city of Boulder and the University of Colorado, are to be featured parts of a “Connecting People and Places” program from Thursday at the Millennium Harvest House Ballroom in Boulder.

Thursday’s event is to include a panel discussion — moderated by Will Toor, the Colorado Energy Office executive director and a former Boulder mayor and former Boulder County commissioner — with panelists from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Board of County Commissioners, the city of Boulder, CU, the Regional Transportation District and the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

“Transportation challenges across Colorado range from a lack of funding to a growing population and increasing demands on our infrastructure, yet this also is a time of great opportunity,” Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said in a statement about Thursday’s meeting.

“It is imperative that we collaborate and take a holistic view of the region’s road, transit, and trail systems so we can combine resources to make a better transportation network that works for everyone. Roads don’t end at city and county boundaries; people need to be able to move freely throughout their local community, around the region, and across the state,” Jones said.

Boulder County’s Transportation Master Plan update will also be the topic of two open houses scheduled for early next month. One will be April 2 at the Kestrel 55+ Community Room, 1130 S. Kestrel Lane, in Louisville, and the second, April 4 in the Ron Stewart Parks and Open Space Building in Longmont.

County officials said additional open house meetings are expected to be held at locations in western Boulder County.

The master plan is being updated to include: new or trending transportation-related technology; changes in demographics, land use, and travel patterns, and opportunities for infrastructure and economic resiliency. The work also includes identifying funding challenges and opportunities.

Officials said the revised document, expected to be acted on by the county commissioners later this year to replace the current plan adopted in December 2012, will include updates showing completed projects, travel patterns, and project cost estimates.

The update is to include looks at such things as safety improvements, “low-stress access” to the transportation system by cyclists and pedestrians, family and school transportation needs, and mobility.

Aging and younger populations have different needs

Gerstle and Stacey Proctor, the update project manager, wrote county Planning Commission members that while the 2012 plan predicted future trends, in the years since, “there have been many changes in Boulder County and the region that ... impact the transportation system.”

That includes an aging population that has different transportation needs and members of a younger generation with “different mobility and vehicle ownership characteristics,” Gerstle and Proctor said.

The updated plan should consider the “implications of rising housing costs and lack of affordable housing” on the transportation system, they said, as well as increased lengths of commutes, and increased traffic volumes, from areas outside the county″s and municipalities’ current planning boundaries.

Gerstle said Thursday that there have been major increases in traffic between Boulder and Weld counties and between Boulder and Larimer counties, often on highways and roads that were not designed to accommodate that many vehicles.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc