Traffic
Traffic Traffic is a serious problem. It isn't just the day to day impacts of dealing with the noise and the bother of cars. It comes down to the safety of the neighborhood and, especially, the safety of our children. More cars will bring more risk. Plain and simple. As evidenced by the following image of a car accident on Manhattan one morning even neighborhood streets are at risk. Luckily no one was injured in this accident.


May 25th 2005 Accident on Manhattan

As the pictures below show traffic is already a serious problem in the area. Manhattan and 55th streets receive a large amount of traffic.

Manhattan Traffic

As shown on the map below there are just two potential access roads (shown in red) to this property, 55th street off of South Boulder Road and Kewanee off of Manhattan.


Access Roads

The following shows the current traffic counts and the estimated increase from the development (numbers from the developer's December neighborhood meeting).
StreetTotal    AM Peak (per hour)    PM Peak
Manhattan - current5900473590
Kewanee-from BCC3102330
55th Street - current1600129161
55th Street - from BCC5334151

Sioux Drive Access

The developer has proposed using Sioux Drive, as it winds its way through the East Boulder Community Center (EBCC), as an access road. The proposal is to straighten the road where it currently jogs through the EBCC parking lot.

This is a bad idea. First, it violates the EBCC Master Plan that states:

Sioux Drive shall be designed in such a way as to discourage through traffic between Baseline and South Boulder Road.
This area is a heavily used recreation corridor. Tens to hundreds of local residents use these paths and sidewalks every day to walk, jog and bike. There is a heavily used playground, park, soccer fields and school that brings a large number of children to the area.

The proposed realignment will simply bring more cut-through traffic and will expose the residents of Boulder and, especially, our children to ever greater risks.

Kewanee Access

It has been a long held promise by the city to the local residents that Kewanee would not be used as an access road to the Hogan/Pancost property.

This promise dates back to 1986 when the City of Boulder was developing plans for the East Boulder Community Center. A letter, written in 1986 by our neighbors Pete Barden and Chuck Downey, summarizes the promises made by the City of Boulder in regards to road access to the Hogan/Pancost site via Kewanee Drive:

Summary of East Boulder Community Park Planning Decisions

Nearly three years ago, the City of Boulder announced plans for a 54-acre East Boulder Community Park, which would be located immediately east of our neighborhood. In response, virtually all of the residents on Manhattan, Kewanee and Cimmaron signed a letter dated January 27, 1985 to Mr. James Piper, our City Manager. In our letter, we supported development of the new community park, but we also alerted City officials that if access to the park were not properly planned, Manhattan, Kewanee and Cimarron would become the gateway to the Park and would be overwhelmed with traffic and noise. As you know. Manhattan already carries far more traffic than it was designed for, and any increase would have a major impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. Consequently, in our letter, we made two requests:

1. Design 55th Street as a compelling automobile access route to the new community park, and design a parking lot on 55th Street within the new park to accommodate the entire demand for user parking under normal operating conditions.

2. Establish immediately a formal residential cul-de-sac plan for the eastern end of Kewanee Drive, similar to the one recently developed on Illini Way, so that potential developers of the land east of Kewanee Drive would have to abide by the City's land use plan.

THE GOOD NEWS is that on July 28, 1986, the Parks and Recreation Board approved the attached master plan for the East Boulder Community Park. And, as you can see from the drawing, both of our requests have been granted:

1. A redesigned 55th Street (shown in red) is now planned as the principal access to the Park from both the north and the south. It passes through the eastern portion of the park, and has a connecting street along the southern boundary of the Park. The existing 55th Street (shown in orange) is a secondary access route from the north, but it is an essential access to the soccer fields (shaded area) which are planned for the western end of the Park in 1987-88. On-site parking lots (shown in yellow) are designed to accommodate the needs of Park users.

2. A formal cul-de-sac plan (shown in blue) will serve to prevent access from Kewanee and Cirnmaron to the Park and its neighboring subdivision, and thereby preclude an enormous increase In traffic on Manhattan. THE BAD NEWS is that despite final approval by various City boards, the attached document is only a plan on paper, which various political pressures may someday seek to change. Therefore, it is necessary for all of us to remain vigilant on this issue, and to stand firm in our expectations of the City to develop the streets, Park and subdivisions as shown in the attached plan.

This promise is reiterated in other City of Boulder memos. From a 1992 meeting summary held with the city attorney:
TO: Kate Bernhardt, Parks and Recreation
FROM: Linda Macintyre, Public Works
SUBJECT: Hogan-Pancost Property
DATE: January 23, 1992

On January 14, several staff members met in the City Attorney's office to 
discuss issues related to the Hogan-Pancost property,
which abuts the East Boulder Community Park property to the south.
Jane Greenfield provided a list of questions, which included the
following three related to transportation:
...
3) The Hogan-Pancost property owners are interested in extending Kewanee
to the east. Is there a transportation or safety related reasone (as opposed
to a political reason) why this connection should not go through?
    There is no transportation or safety reason why Kewanee should not be 
    connected to future development on the Hogan-Pancost property. From
    a strictly transportation perspective, this connection is in fact
    desirable. However, during discussions on the future of traffic
    circulation in the area (related to the development of the park), 
    staff and Planning Board made assurances to the neighborhood on 
    Manhattan Dr. that this connection would not be made in the future.

In 2003 Spense Havlick, ex-city council member, wrote a message to the City's Hotline mailing list:

Body >>> Spense Havlick 9/15/2003 11:36:17 PM >>>
There is circulating around planning department and around town a proposal to put 139 residential units on 23.6 acres of non city land near the East Boulder Community and Rec center. It has some fine designers involved but there are serious shortfalls that should be reviewed carefully. There are wetland issues. There are flood plain issues . No traffic study has been done to show those infrastructure impacts. I remember how we agreed to close Kewanee Drive when the Rec and Community center was built. This project wants to open that street with Manhattan Middle School right nearby.
This has also been brought up in two previous meetings that the city planning staff has had with the Hogan/Pancost developer:
PRE-APPLICATION MEETING SUMMARY
Date: October 9, 2002
...
Secondary, emergency only access can be provided by using Kewanee 
Drive to the northwest.
Unfortunately, when the citizens of Boulder have brought up this promise with City planning staff we have been met with denial and evasion. We have heard on a number of times from staff that those promises were made by City boards and staff that no longer work for the city. Well we feel that a promise is a promise. This is fundamentally an issue of trust.

Manhattan Traffic

As the developer's recent traffic study reported Manhattan Drive receives an average of 5900 car trips per day. This far exceeds the Design Traffic Volumes for Residential Collector streets of 1000-2500 cars a day as defined in the City's Transportation Standards.

The developer justifies adding to this traffic burden by stating that it is only a 5% increase of the traffic. However, what about the 500% increase that this development wil bring for car trips on Kewanee ad Cimmaron.

Either way 55th street and/or Kewanee will bear the brunt of the traffic of 127 homes. This equates to approximately 1200 car trips per day. In the past, when the issue of traffic was brought up, the developer reasoned (perhaps wrongly) that with senior housing in the area they do not drive very much and that would reduce traffic impacts. This, of course, has been greeted with doubt and skepticism (not to mention humorous derision) by the many seniors in the area. Even if the 50 units of senior housing produce no traffic we are still left with 700 car trips per day from the remaining 70 homes.

55th street already has extensive traffic from the East Boulder Recreation Center and bisects the Greenbelt Meadows neighborhood. A serious issue will be the increase of traffic through the recreation center parking lot to the north. Though city staff considers 55th street a regional collector and that it has enough capacity, the residents of Greenbelt Meadows consider it a neighborhood street. Twenty five houses back up to the street:


55th Street

This is a heavily traveled pedestrian thoroughfare. Every day many children cross the street to get to the school bus, the HOA park on the east or the pool complex on the west.


55th Crossing

Furthermore, in the Transporation Master Plan, 55th street is intended to continue to the north, which would add even more traffic as it becomes another north/south road corridor for commuters:


Local Road Network

Manhattan has seen an upsurge of traffic with the conversion of the neighborhood Burbank Middle School to the regional Manhattan Middle School. Manhattan is also seeing more non-local commuter traffic that utilizes it as a bypass from South Boulder road to Baseline. Residents have noted a marked increase in peak hour traffic at the Baseline and South Boulder road intersections.

 

 

 

The views expressed on this web site are solely those of the author. If you have any concerns or comments or believe anything on this web site is inaccurate or in error please contact the author at jeff.mcwhirter -at- gmail.com