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The Downtown Westminster Smart City Mobility Initiative is a transformational project in the heart of  the U.S. 36 Tech Corridor in the Denver metropolitan region. The initiative will spur economic development, increase public private collaboration, eliminate an at-grade trail crossing, reduce crash levels, increase transportation options and improve the quality of life.

The proposed project reconstructs and widens Sheridan Boulevard (State Highway 95) while building an underpass that would eliminate one of two  remaining at-grade crossings for the U.S. 36 Bikeway. The widening of  Sheridan Boulevard will capitalize on the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) U.S. 36 Express Lane project investment by bringing Sheridan Boulevard to its ultimate configuration and capacity.  The widening will allow full utilization of the roadway that is used as a major connector to the Denver and Boulder economic centers.The smart underpass will provide a direct, comfortable, and safe connection between Downtown Westminster, the U.S. 36 Bikeway, and the Regional Transportation District's (RTD) U.S. 36 / Sheridan Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Station that will not impede traffic flow. on Sheridan Boulevard. The technology construction components incorporated into this application will build the foundation for Westminster  to become a Smart City. 


PROJECT LEAD

City of Westminster

FUNDING PARTNER

Colorado Department of Transportation

BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS RESULTS

3.0 : 1 at sevent percent discount rate

PROJECT BENEFITS
  • Reconfigures Sheridan Boulevard to allow the full utilization of the bridge over U.S. 36.
  • Decreases time travel delays, crashes, and congestion-related vehicle emissions.
  • Eliminates an at-grade separation on the U.S. 36 Denver-to-Boulder Bikeway.
  • Provides safer pedestrian and bicycle connection to RTD’s Sheridan Station. 
  • Enhances the economic vitality of the new Downtown Westminster by improving access to all modes of  transportation.
  • Improves the long-term efficiency and reliability of the movement of workers and goods. 
  • Assists with long-term productivity growth and job creation.
  • Sets the stage for the launch of autonomous vehicle shuttle for Downtown  Westminster.

Application Narrative and Supporting Documentation

Downtown Westminster Smart City Mobility Initiative - Narrative 

Attachment A - Detailed Cost Estimates

Attachment B - Memoranda of Understanding

Attachment C - Letters of Support

Attachment D - Project Schedule

Attachment E - NEPA Review

Attachment F - Cost Benefit Analysis

Attachment G - Federal Wage Certification

The proposed project is in response to the increased levels of congestion on Sheridan Boulevard,  the fast-paced redevelopment of Downtown Westminster, the lack of direct safe connection between RTD’s U.S. 36 / Sheridan Station and commercial areas nearby, and the opportunity to lay the foundation for smart city solutions in Westminster.

SHERIDAN BOULEVARD

Sheridan Boulevard is a major roadway running parallel to the U.S. 36 Denver-Boulder Turnpike. It is a major north-south connector for the Denver Metropolitan Area. The roadway provides five to six travel lanes between the U.S. 36 interchange and 88th Avenue. A median separating opposing traffic ends just north of the U.S. 36 interchange.  Posted speeds are 40 m.p.h. and the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) is approximately 56,000 trips per day. Sheridan Boulevard and 88th Avenue currently maintain a Level of Service (LOS) C.  If no improvements are made to address traffic congestion, Sheridan’s LOS will decrease to an F and 88th Avenue to a D. 

At the U.S. 36 / Sheridan overpass, southbound travel lanes are reduced from three to two, creating  a choke point for motorist looking to continue traveling south. Additionally, the U.S. 36 eastbound off-ramp continuous right turn on to Sheridan presents a challenge for vehicles wishing to merge to continue straight.

 U.S. 36 BIKEWAY

The U.S. 36 Bikeway is the bicycle highway of the north Denver Metro Region. The $16.6 million Bikeway is an  18-mile shared-use trail that links Westminster to Boulder. The Bikeway was designed as a high-speed facility that provides recreational, utilitarian, and commuter bicyclists a safe, direct, and convenient ride through the U.S. 36 corridor. 

Bikeway counts conducted at Sheridan and 88th Avenue showed an average of 117 trail users per day. It can be calculated that under existing land-use conditions, this section of the bikeway  sees approximately 816 users per week, 3,611 per month, and 60,175 annually. During  weekdays, approximately 48 % of bikeway users were commuters. Bikeway users must cross 17 travel lanes, about 300 feet, to utilize the surrounding commercial services, continue on the trail, or reach the RTD station. 

RTD'S U.S. 36 / SHERIDAN STATION

Sheridan Station is one the busiest stations in the region. The station is serviced by 10 different bus lines including RTD’s U.S. 36 Flatiron Flyer BRT service, that was added as part of the FasTracks program. The service encompasses 18 miles of express and high frequency bus service between downtown Denver and Boulder, with six stations along U.S. 36. U.S. 36/Sheridan Station sees nearly 500 buses per day and more than weekday 1,600 boardings.

Of the six Flatiron Flyer stations, four have grade-separated crossings that connect BRT users to adjacent economic centers.  The two crossings without grade-separated direct connections are located in Westminster− U.S. 36 / Sheridan Station and U.S. 36 / Church Ranch Station. On average, 135 pedestrian activations are triggered at the Sheridan Boulevard and 88th Avenue intersection. Bicyclists and pedestrians must wait an average of four minutes to cross the intersection. 

SAFETY CONCERNS

The project area has experienced an array of safety issues due to Sheridan Boulevard travel lane reductions, the U.S. 36 off-ramp merging concerns, the lack of median, and the increased exposure of pedestrians and bicyclists at the existing roadway crossings. Currently southbound Sheridan Boulevard has two through lanes, with northbound operating with a total of three through lanes.  Between 2010 and 2016, the project area experienced a total of 511 vehicular crashes. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $4.35 million.  Southbound Sheridan has experienced more than double the number of same direction crashes as compared to northbound. 

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The Downtown Westminster Smart City Mobility Initiative proposes to reconstruct and widen Sheridan Boulevard while building an underpass that would eliminate one of only two at-grade intersections for the U.S. 36 Bikeway. 

The project includes transforming Sheridan to a typical six-lane  roadway section with the appropriate acceleration/deceleration lanes and a  median barrier from the U.S. 36 west-bound ramp intersection to 88th Avenue. The additional road capacity will improve traffic flow extending as far north as 92nd Avenue and as far south as 80th Avenue, improving efficiency not only to the roadway but also to U.S. 36, the RTD U.S. 36 / Sheridan Station parking lot access points, and the U.S. 36 Bikeway. The median will separate opposing traffic creating a safer and more efficient roadway. 

As the roadway construction takes place, the project incorporates the construction of an underpass to remove the at-grade trail crossing of the U.S. 36 Bikeway. The underpass will realign the regional trail and provide a seamless connection between the U.S. 36 Bikeway, U.S. 36 / Sheridan Station, and Downtown Westminster. The underpass will be located approximately 800 feet north of 88th Avenue and is expected to be more than 150 feet in length. It will  include bi-directional travel lanes to accommodate autonomous vehicle shuttles in the near future.

The project also incorporates the acquisition cost for an intelligent thermal traffic sensor for the intersection of Sheridan Boulevard and 88th Avenue.  This kind of traffic signal integrates intelligent thermal sensors to  detect  vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles in the darkest of nights over a long range and in the most difficult weather conditions. This Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology allows a more dynamic control of  the city’s transportation network. It will result in reduced vehicle idling time, improved traffic flow, and improved safety and mobility for bicyclists. 

                                                                                    Downtown Westminster-Rendering

The City of Westminster has embarked on an ambitious journey to become the next urban center of Colorado’s Front Range. It begins with Downtown Westminster, the redevelopment of the 105-acre former Westminster Mall. The city has invested significantly in the new Downtown, with $35 million in land acquisition and $40 million toward infrastructure including utilities, streets, sidewalks, bike paths, a parking structure, streetscape and park development. The city plans to double this investment over the next 15 years with completion of parks, parking facilities, and additional infrastructure.  

The city’s investment is already paying off as over one million square feet of development is underway, including 600 residential units, 80,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail space including a movie complex, a fine foods grocer, a 125-room boutique hotel, and a $5.5 million Central Square. Over time, Downtown Westminster is expected to comprise up to 2,000,000 square feet of office space, 750,000 square feet of retail space, 300 hotel rooms, 2,300 residential units and a vibrant cultural district. The district will bring 4,500 new residents and 8,000 new employees. 

                                                                                       Downtown Westminster - Current Development

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While exiting, the redevelopment of the new Downtown Westminster will increase the number of vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and transit trips in the area. The Downtown  Westminster Mobility Plan estimates that at build-out,  Downtown Westminster will increase daily traffic on Sheridan Boulevard by 15%  (8,900 additional vehicles). This estimate does not take into consideration the growth in the commercial areas surrounding the Downtown. The Downtown Westminster Smart City Mobility Initiative will address the current and future levels of congestion and safety while providing innovative transportation and enhancing  quality of life.

Visit Downtown Westminster for more information about all the new development in Downtown Westminster or the Downtown Specific Plan.

The City of Westminster is requesting $5,000,000 in TIGER grant funds, which is 62% of the total $8,046,000 project cost. These funds will be used for project design, construction and oversight. Westminster will commit $2,316,700 (29% of the project cost) in city funds from the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget.  CDOT has pledged $729,300 (9% of the project cost) in state funds from the Statewide Transportation Program - Metro (STP-Metro) budget. 

                                                                                                     Budget Pie Chart-1.jpg

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                                                                                       Underpass looking west_from inside tunnel-1.jpg

The Downtown Westminster Smart City Mobility Initiative generates benefits across a variety of long-term outcomes: safety, operations and maintenance, mode shift, economic competitiveness, quality of life,  and environmental sustainability. Due to the nature of the project, a Benefit-Cost Analysis was conducted for four different project scenarios: no-build,  lane widening,  underpass  and  bikeway,  and  combined. Each scenario incorporated sensitivity analysis resulting in three impact levels (low, medium, high). For the purpose of this project, the city used ‘medium’ level of impact. 

At a 7 percent real discount rate, the net present value of the proposed project is $12.3 million, with an estimated internal rate of return of 18.5%. Over 20 years, the benefits of this project exceed the cost by a factor of 3.0 to 1.0 when discounted at 7 percent. Not included in this assessment are the health and recreational benefits.  More in-depth information is provided in Attachment F - Cost-Benefit Analysis. Following is a summary of the undiscounted findings. 

  • The proposed project will cost an estimated $8,046,000 to construct and, on average, an estimated $13,000 per year to maintain (undiscounted and rounded). 
  • After construction, the proposed project would encourage an estimated reduction of between 24.6 million and 35.7 million vehicle miles  traveled (VMT), helping to save the taxpayers an estimated $2.9 million to $4.1 million in roadway maintenance costs over the life of the project. 
  • The estimated reduction in VMT could help prevent between 11,000 and 16,000 fewer metric tons of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants from entering the atmosphere between 2016 and 2040, the equivalent of $0.7 million to $1.0 million in avoided environmental damage or mitigation costs. 
  • The proposed project would encourage more walking and bicycling trips.  During the 20-year post-construction period an average of 280 to 380 additional people per year would meet the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended amount of weekly physical activity, helping residents save $8.3 million to 11.2 million in healthcare expenses over the life of the project. 
  • With a safer, more efficient street network for all modes of travel, Westminster residents will save an estimated $1.0 million to $1.5 million in traffic congestion costs, $6.4 million in travel time savings, and $14.7 million to $20.4 million in household transportation costs over the life of the project.

More in-depth information is provided in Attachment F - Cost-Benefit Analysis

    The Downtown Westminster Smart City Mobility Initiative is  the result of a decades long regional alliance. This application is submitted by  the City of Westminster in partnership with the Colorado  Department of Transportation (CDOT). Westminster's Resolution of Support and CDOT's Financial Support letter can be found in Attachment B - Memoranda of Understanding. In addition to the financial partnership with CDOT, the city has received letters of support from the following organizations.

    Contact information

    Gabriella Arismendi
    Transportation & Mobility Planner

    Phone:  303-658-2613
    E-Mail: garismen@cityofwestminster.us