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Arapahoe County transportation planners balancing development and traffic

traffic and development.jpg
Posted at 8:53 AM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-05 19:03:28-05

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Developing open land in eastern Arapahoe County could be one way to help ease Colorado's housing crisis.

There's plenty of available land to build new homes in the area, but transportation planners are working to balance that development without having people stuck in more traffic.

“I think it is a blessing and a challenge, and it’s a great question," said Jim Katzer, the transportation division manager for Arapahoe County. "We do see a lot of growth projected to be out east.”

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It's so much growth that transportation planners in Arapahoe County and the City of Aurora are searching for better ways to manage how people will move around.

“Roads aren’t always enough, so we try to take a tool box approach where roads are really important. Also there’s these other... tools in our tool box where you’ve got transit. You’ve also got bike and [pedestrians],” Katzer said.

Transportation planners concede that very few people who live east of E-470 will ride their bike to work and definitely won’t walk the 20 or 30 miles to the Denver Tech Center or to downtown.

“It’s going to increase congestion," Katzer. "So, what are some of the other modes that we can get people around in? Bike and ped. Not everyone is going to bike and ped, so is there a bus system that comes along and helps with that? We hope it can.”

One other solution might be in the way development builds out. Developers can fill the now empty land with a mix of industry and housing because having people living close to work or working remotely will take pressure off the transportation system.

But this all takes a lot of money the county doesn’t have. It means they have to require new developers to pay their own way through fees. A roadway fee and a rural development impact fee is paid by developers to help with traffic impacts inside and outside their developments.

However, it will take more than money to keep people moving in eastern Arapahoe County.

“New technologies are also promising where you have autonomous vehicles," Katzer said. "Those are developing and are very complicated.”

It's complicated enough to say future growth might need future solutions to keep you from sitting in traffic.