The intersection of US 6 and Heritage Road is often one big headache — as anyone who has driven through that intersection at the wrong time of day surely knows. But a cure could be on its way in …
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In 2003, Golden citizens and leaders came together to discuss strategies for reimagining roads and managing traffic in and around the city so to better maintain Golden’s small town character and connectivity. That led to the adoption of the Golden Plan, which outlined improvements that could be made to reduce the impacts of U.S. 6. The reconstruction of the U.S. 6 and Heritage Road interchange would be the second major project to be completed to fulfill the Golden Plan following the reconstruction of the interchange at U.S. 6 and 19th Street in 2017.
The intersection of US 6 and Heritage Road is often one big headache — as anyone who has driven through that intersection at the wrong time of day surely knows.
But a cure could be on its way in the form of a reconstruction of the interchange that the city of Golden has been eyeing for decades. While the project has not received full funding, the city has hired the Muller Engineering Company to design the eventually-new interchange, once funding is secured from the state.
On Feb. 24, the Muller Engineering Company held a public meeting over Zoom at which its team presented four alternative concepts for how the interchange could be designed. Here is a look at those concepts, the feedback that was received and what is next for the project.
All of Muller’s designs call for the creation of a new Heritage Road overpass that would allow its traffic to pass over U.S. 6. That’s also the case with the neighboring interchange at U.S. 6 and 19th Street, which was completed in 2017. But while all of the designs involve separating the traffic on the two roadways, they each would give the intersection a different look and feel and present their own pros and cons.
Probably the most standard design of the bunch, this design would involve a bridge with one lane in each direction and traffic signals controlling traffic on Heritage Road as well as traffic going from Heritage Road to U.S. 6 and vice versa via ramps.
Pros and Cons: Project Engineer Nancy Lambertson said pros of that design include its familiarity to drivers, the possibility of continuous on-street bike lanes and its relatively small bridge footprint relative to other designs, which would reduce costs. Cons include the use of traffic signals, which would mean longer vehicle delays, and a lack of mechanisms to slow vehicle speeds, which have been cited by residents as a concern on Heritage Road.
A newer type of design that is likely to be unfamiliar to many residents, a diverging diamond allows traffic to move more freely than a signalized diamond because it is governed by stop lights rather than signals.
“Vehicles moving through the intersection would only have to stop once with minimal conflicts,” Lambertson said.
Pros and Cons: Among the advantages of the design is that it would reduce vehicle conflicts, Lambertson said. The design is also the most similar to that of the U.S. 6 and 19th Street interchange. Disadvantages include that the design is unfamiliar to drivers and difficult to plow in the winter.
This design would add two new roundabouts to the city of Golden (although they would be connected) with vehicles able to enter the interchange as gaps in traffic occur without having to wait at a light or stop sign.
Pros and Cons: A roundabout design would effectively manage speed while resulting in reduced delays for vehicles and less severe crashes. However, it would be more challenging to construct than other designs, with particular attention needing to be paid to the design of the roundabouts.
This design would orient the interchange around one larger roundabout that both Heritage and the ramps to U.S. 6 would feed into.
Pros and Cons: This interchange design would have the most compact overall footprint and provide more room for trails and other amenities to be constructed alongside it, Lambertson said. However, it is an unusual configuration to design, would involve a larger and more costly bridge and would require more detours during construction.
The community can continue to make comments and complete the polling questions about the four concepts at guidinggolden.com. Dan Hartman, Golden’s Director of Public Works, said the Muller team will review feedback and input from the meeting and Guiding Golden in order to likely come up with two alternative final designs.
Community members can go to www.guidinggolden.com and click on the U.S. 6 and Heritage Road topic to give their input.
At that point, a third open house will be scheduled where residents will be able to offer further input. At that point, a final design option will be identified and the city will finalize a plan. Hartman said the city is hopeful that once the design is finalized the city will be able to secure funding for the project from the state.
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