RTD holds public forum on Highway 119 project
February 15, 2019
About 35 people attended a public forum Feb. 7 at the Left Hand Grange in Niwot to give their opinion on proposals for bus rapid transit alternatives along Highway 119 (the Diagonal) between Boulder and Longmont. It was the second forum held in Niwot.
Projections by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) show a 25 percent increase in vehicle traffic on the Diagonal by 2040 is possible, prompting RTD to work with Boulder County Transportation to find a way to lessen the use and impact on the stretch of highway. In addition, Colorado Department of Transportation planners are conducting a bicycle/pedestrian path feasibility study for the corridor.
“We want to move as many people as we can as efficiently and sustainably as possible in this transportation corridor,” said Chris Quinn, RTD’s Highway 119 project manager.
Boulder County Transportation Director George Gerstle emphasized that this project is “not at all” related to the stalled Northwest rail project. “The funding sources for this work are completely separate from the Northwest rail project,” Gerstle said. “This funding will come from federal highway dollars, CDOT, and monies from the cities and county. They don’t compete with each other.”
RTD officials are hoping to start construction in 2023 on the Highway 119 bus project, once final funding has been locked down.
Attendees were asked to consider what routes, stops and frequency of run times they preferred, along with where the buses will run along the highway and where parking and platforms will be located. Possible bus stop platform designs also were included.
In addition, those attending were given a look at a possible bike pathway being studied by CDOT. Final funding has not been set yet for the bike path, according to CDOT project manager Adnana Murtic, but is likely to be from grants. “We want a path that is safe, has easy access to the park and rides, and the bus platforms, and connects to existing trails,” she said.
Questions were asked about whether bus platforms would be nicer, and Quinn replied that the intent is to “construct much nicer stations, with lights, electricity, benches and security cameras.”
Audience members pointed out that the bus shelters don’t really shelter riders from any wind and asked that it be considered in the designs. They also suggested that bicycle share/rentals be made available at the Niwot stop and that buses should accommodate suitcases for users planning to use SkyRide. The number of Park and Ride parking spaces should remain the same or slightly increase, RTD officials said.
One resident asked if plans were being made to keep people from driving on already-congested side roads during the Diagonal bus lane construction. “You should anticipate problems with this,” he cautioned.
Mitigating the impact on wildlife in the Highway 119 corridor also was discussed. One of the proposed configurations for the bus platform would entail cutting down most of the tall cottonwoods in the median of the Diagonal near Niwot. “That would be completely unacceptable,” one resident said.
Bus platform design survey
The Niwot Community Association and Niwot Business Association, working with Boulder County, have put together a survey about three proposed designs for bus platforms to serve Niwot. The survey includes details and images of the proposed designs. More than 69 people have already taken the survey, according to NCA president David Limbach. A link to the survey can be found on the NCA website at Niwot.org.
RTD officials have received more than 400 comments about the Highway 119 project, had about 1,400 responses to its survey about the project (now closed) and has held several public outreach meetings. Information about the project can be found on the RTD website at https://www.sh119brt.com/.