By R. Gary Raham
On Thursday, November 15, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) asked for input from Wellington citizens about future Highway 1 road work in their community. Citizens responded in large numbers, filling the Leeper Center. Recent growth has soared in Wellington, just 12 miles north of Fort Collins. That growth causes congestion at traffic lights installed at the I-25/Highway 1 interchange during evening rush hour, and adds more hazards for traffic and pedestrians along Cleveland Avenue—Wellington’s “main street.”
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CDOT officials made no formal presentation, but provided posters describing upcoming short-term improvements, and asked for input about future changes. One poster revealed that traffic counts in downtown Wellington during the peak hour between 5 and 6 pm average 550 vehicles/hour (vph). 1,200 vph pass through the I-25 interchange. By the year 2040 those counts are expected to double.
Long Nguyen, Professional Engineer with CDOT, said that the transportation organization looks at short term (immediate), medium term (10-15 years), and long-term (20-40 year) issues. In the short term, CDOT will be re-striping Cleveland from 6th Street to 1st Street, adding left turn and through lanes, and improving signage for pedestrian crossings and turning vehicles. That, along with synchronizing the existing traffic signals, could begin as early as this December.
Medium term concerns may include an additional traffic light along Cleveland, perhaps at Third Street. Residents also would like to see a widened bridge at the I-25/Highway 1 interchange and/or an additional southern exit for Wellington that would reduce traffic at the current interchange. Such work would require funding sources, and that Wellington move up the priority list. Safety concerns could advance such projects. Currently, Nguyen said the bridge at I-25 and Highway 1 has a good safety rating of 67. Citizens voted down road construction/maintenance proposals in the November election.
CDOT encouraged input at this meeting on proposed access control plans for future roadwork in the town. One sign declared that, “Change is NOT imminent.” Access Control Plans (ACPs) are “documents that prepare for long term future growth,” dependent on traffic increases of 20% or more, public funding by a Town, County or CDOT, and safety or operational issues.