At a PLAN-Boulder County forum on Friday, August 10, Julie McKay, planning division manager for the Boulder County Transportation Department, presented the main elements of the proposed Transportation Master Plan of Boulder County and acknowledged that the county intends to feature Arapahoe Avenue as the main conduit for an anticipated substantial increase in east-west traffic.
McKay announced that the proposed plan will probably be completed by the county staff in mid-September and, after public hearings, adopted by the County Commissioners in October or November. She said that it would probably be revised at five-year intervals. The plan represents an effort by the Boulder County Transportation Department to shift from a fairly traditional streets and roads operation to one which concentrates on moving people rather than moving cars. McKay predicted that the county will change its emphasis from building and expanding roads to creating multi-modal systems.
McKay explained that the plan identifies trends, issues and needs, describes five strategies to address those trends, and sets out projects, programs and investments with which to implement the strategies.
McKay remarked that, because of relatively strict land use controls, Boulder County will experience more modest growth in trip volume than the rest of the Denver metropolitan area. She projected that trips by Boulder County residents will increase 17 percent by 2035, while trips throughout the metro area will rise by 50 percent within that same period. As part of the county’s projections, she estimated that there will be only a 12 percent increase in trips within the county, but a 28 percent increase in trips between the county and other parts of the metro area. East-west trips will constitute a large portion of the increase, particularly ones that originate in the eastern part of the county. East-west trips west of 95th Street are expected to rise by 35 percent, trips between 95th St. and State Highway 287 by 57 percent, and trips east of State Highway 287 by 80 percent by 2035. McKay noted that most people leave their communities to work.
She listed as demand management strategies parking management, employer-based programs, residential-based programs, pricing, land use and smart growth, school-based programs, communication, marketing and education, incentive programs, and intelligent transportation systems. Examples of these strategies, she asserted, would be a Boulder County EcoPass program and cash for multi-modal, commuter trips on US 36.
Overall strategies consist of development of a multi-modal transportation system, creating “a complete trip,” investment in key travel corridors, addressing travel needs, and support for local transportation needs and mountain connections. McKay specified that Boulder County intends to invest in three key travel corridors—US 36, State Highway 119 (the Longmont Diagonal) and State Highway 7 (Arapahoe Avenue)—and cited the plans for US 36 that include a bikeway, two regular vehicle lanes each way, and a Bus Rapid Transit/High Occupancy Vehicle lane each way as exemplary.
During the question-and-answer session at the end of McKay’s talk an audience member commented that growth in surrounding counties cannot be controlled by Boulder County and that that growth will precipitate major increases in trips by Boulder County residents. McKay noted, however, that the Denver Regional Council of Governments has adopted a new goal that 75 percent of new housing and 50 percent of new employment be located in existing urban centers. In response to a question from the audience, McKay claimed that RTD’s FasTracks system, if it ever gets built, is not expected to increase commuter transit use significantly.