A new approval process to receive federal transportation funds has allowed smaller communities in Douglas County to have transportation needs addressed.
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The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) approved 10 Douglas County projects to receive federal funds over the next four years through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), worth almost $23 million total. The projects range from simple safety and pedestrian improvements to larger undertakings to improve capacity on major roadways as the county’s population surges. The 2020-2023 TIP was approved Aug. 21.
Two projects received federal funding in Parker, two in Lone Tree, one in Castle Rock, one in Larkspur, one in Highlands Ranch and three others in unincorporated parts of Douglas County, according to the approved TIP document for 2020-2023.
“They were looking to spread the peanut butter,” said Todd Cottrell, the DRCOG’s TIP senior planner. “They wanted involvement from every community, so every community had a project.”
Rather than have member municipalities apply individually for funds, each of the eight counties in DRCOG’s jurisdiction put together a proposal based on collaborative discussions with all its municipalities.
As a result, the Town of Larkspur will receive federal transportation funds for the first time ever, a $400,000 share to go toward constructing a new sidewalk along Spruce Mountain Road.
“Sometimes, especially with smaller communities, we’ve encouraged them to talk to their other jurisdictions to see if they can work behind the scenes to use local money on these projects,” Cottrell said. “Now what we’re seeing is these smaller communities stepping up to the plate.”
Every four years, DRCOG approves the TIP for projects within its jurisdiction, which includes municipalities throughout Denver, Boulder, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Broomfield and Douglas counties and part of Weld County.
DRCOG selects funding through regional and subregional categories. Regional shares make up about 20% of DRCOG’s funding allocation and include projects that affect every municipality in DRCOG’s jurisdiction. Subregional shares are split between municipalities within the county and make up 80% of DRCOG’s funding allocation.
The largest sum of federal funds in the Douglas County forum will go toward widening County Line Road from Broadway to University Boulevard. The $10 million project will pull $5.5 million from the Douglas County forum’s allotted $23 million and $4.5 million will come from the Arapahoe County forum.
Highway 85 is set to receive funding to eventually widen the road from Sedalia to Castle Rock. DRCOG awarded just under $1 million to the county to complete preliminary steps for this project.
Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge said the projects were decided based on need throughout the county and the region. The projects were graded on a 1-3 scale, three being the highest priority.
“It’s very objective. There’s pretty much nothing subjective on it.” Partridge said. “We look at congestion because congestion not only effects quality of life, but it’s also an air quality issue. We look at the condition of the road. We look at the life cycle of the road. We look at safety … There’s a lot of factors we look at and it’s a long list.”
The Douglas County projects followed three main themes: Making safety improvements to roads, providing better access for cyclists and pedestrians and improving traffic flow.
The High Plains Trail/Cherry Creek Connector project drew $2 million from the regional share to complete what Parker officials have dubbed the United Nations of trail connections. It was the highest rated trail project this year within DRCOG.
Chris Hudson, public works manager for the Town of Parker, said the collaborative process played a big role in Parker’s projects. Parker was able to pull funds from DRCOG’s multimodal fund for Douglas County as well, which is roughly $4 million of the $23 million for the county.
“There was a lot of discussion to be forward-thinking and trying to solve problems before they get worse,” Hudson said. “(Highway) 83 was one of those.”
Two projects along Highway 83 will receive a total of $2.75 million in subregional funds for improvements to bicycle lanes and sidewalks. One section from Lincoln Avenue to Pine Lane will receive $1.75 million for traffic flow and safety improvements. The section from Twenty Mile Road to Hess Road will receive $1 million for cycling and pedestrian safety improvements.
Another $5.5 million in subregional funds will go toward safety improvements on Highway 83 from Bayou Gulch Road up to the El Paso County line.
The interchange at Lincoln Avenue and I-25 has long been identified as a project that needs improvement in Lone Tree. The project received $1.25 million in subregional funding. The project will begin a preconstruction phase to determine long-term solutions for the interchange.
A grade separation will be installed for the C-470 Regional Trail over Acres Green Drive as well. The 2.3-rated project received $2 million in subregional funding.
Castle Rock received $4.3 million in funding for improvements to the Highway 86 and Founders Parkway intersection.
“Part of this collaborative effort is … we’re also able to understand the long-term county needs,” Hudson said. “This will set the groundwork for what we’ll see in four years.”
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