When it comes to Boulder’s transportation master plan, the goal is simple: making city streets safer for everyone, regardless of how they get around. The city hopes to achieve this while emphasizing equity, reliability, choice and support for Boulder’s climate commitment.
The plan includes five different policies designed to work together to fix problem areas on city streets, while making improvements to potentially dangerous areas for cyclists and pedestrians. For example, the Low-Stress Walk and Bike Network aims to improve the ability for pedestrians and cyclists to get around the city without the anxiety of commuting on busy streets, which aligns with the city’s Vision Zero program, designed to reduce the number of severe crashes and traffic fatalities to zero.
“As you make it safer and more comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists to get around, the idea is that it would create some type of mode shift within the city,” said Devin Joslin, the Principal Traffic Engineer for the City of Boulder. “That would contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emission and lower the vehicle miles traveled in the city.”
Here are some of the highlighted projects from the Transportation Advisory Board (and featured in the city’s Safe Streets Report) that you can expect to see around Boulder this year. Though not an exhaustive list, the following nine projects give you an idea of the kinds of transportation infrastructure improvements you can expect to see being built and/or completed throughout the city this year.
With 30,000 cars and 1,500 bikes traveling through on a typical day, this intersection is one of the busiest in Boulder. The city is currently installing an underpass to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
The city expects that improving the safety of such a busy intersection will decrease the number of severe crashes, considering that a crash is more likely to be severe when a cyclist or pedestrian is involved. This project, which has been underway for almost a year, is on schedule and is expected to be completed in the fall. In the meantime, the city has provided alternate routes for pedestrians and cyclists to avoid the construction.
The Lehigh corridors projects will add various new active transportation safety measures along Lehigh Street between Table Mesa Drive and Cragmoor Road. The improvements include curb extensions, pedestrian ramps, pedestrian refuge islands, and crosswalks for those walking as well as buffers on bike lanes for cyclists. These additions are intended to improve the safety of students and other pedestrians traveling to nearby elementary schools and elsewhere. In addition to Vision Zero, the measures dovetail with other city projects like Safe Routes to School and the Low-Stress Walk and Bike Network. Construction has begun and will continue through April.
These smaller projects will install or enhance pedestrian crossing treatments at these sites. They were made possible under the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), run by the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG). These improvements work towards Vision Zero and the Low-Stress Walk and Bike Network while supporting the region’s broader transportation goals with DRCOG.
Another program under DRCOG is the Regional Transportation Operations Improvement Program (RTO). This program helps implement newer technology to improve transportation infrastructure. Under this program, Boulder will upgrade signal systems at 67 intersections to enhance system connectivity and communications. The goal is to decrease travel times, reduce the number of stops people need to make and make signals more reliable.
The Boulder City Council has recently shifted its focus on transportation projects from smaller neighborhood streets to larger arterial roadways. This is partly due to the city’s most recent Safe Streets Report, which suggests that about 65% of severe crashes occur on the arterial roadways compared to only 11% on local streets. The city still plans to implement traffic calming projects on 26th Street, 55th Street and Upland Avenue, but the NSMP is not accepting applications for more projects at this time.
The building of Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes is one of many improvements planned along this section of 28th Street. These lanes are designated as public transit-only, but allow for other drivers to enter the lane when turning into businesses on 28th Street.
Since 28th Street is one of the main roads slicing through Boulder, it is a high priority for safety improvements. In addition to BAT lanes, other upcoming improvements include upgrading traffic signals at Mapleton Avenue and Glenwood Drive, and “colored conflict markings” to indicate areas where cars might cross bike lanes.
28th Street and Colorado Avenue
Another major project on 28th Street is the reconstruction of the Colorado Avenue intersection. Like other projects, the city will install BAT lanes and build a protected intersection to make it safer for cyclists. The city also plans to build a multi-use path along Colorado Avenue to offer more low-stress transit options for pedestrians and cyclists. Construction on this intersection is still in the design phase, and is expected to begin in late 2022 or early 2023.
Baseline Road and Mohawk Drive
The city plans to rebuild northbound/southbound signal approaches, add protected/permitted left turn phasing which will make this intersection safer for cyclists and drivers making left turns. This project will be designed in 2022 and will be implemented in 2023.
Broadway and Baseline Road
Broadway and Regent Drive/20th Street
Folsom Street and Pine Street
The city plans to rebuild traffic signals and provide protected left turn phasing, which will make the intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists passing through, as well as for drivers making left turns. Like Baseline Road and Mohawk Drive, this project won’t be implemented until next year.
For more on the city’s transportation master plan, visit the City of Boulder website.