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Denver considers using wireless technology to keep truckers out of neighborhoods

Posted at 7:16 PM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 21:37:41-05

DENVER -- Every time a truck cuts through Paulette Bruton's North Denver neighborhood, she not only hears it, she feels.

"When I heard that, the mirrors that I have on my wall was like shaking," she said.

With Interstate 70 and lines of warehouses in their backyards, the sound of heavy truck traffic is something Globeville, Elyria-Swansea neighbors have learned to live with.

"You get used to it, but it's not what you want to hear," Bruton said.

"Oh, it's an everyday thing, every day they go through their all-day long," another neighbor, Antonia Montoya, said.

"It's safety, it's pollution, making sure we are working to keep truck traffic out of the neighborhoods and really protect the small kids that walk to school," said Denver city councilwoman at-large, Debbie Ortega.

Ortega fears the problem is only going to get worse when the I-70 reconstruction starts later this year.

"Once construction starts you're basically taking the volume of traffic that is currently on that corridor and putting it all just on half," she said.

It is illegal to for freight trucks to drive on roads that aren't marked as a route, including neighborhood streets but they can cut through when there's no other option.

"Eighty percent of the pollution comes from trucks so the health of the community is critical," Ortega said.

Denver project plans show the city is considering tackling the issue with an innovative experiment that would use wireless technology to transform how truckers move around the city.

The technology would give truckers more green lights on main routes as a way of encouraging them to stay off neighborhood streets.

It works similar to technology used by ambulances, and can communicate with traffic signals to change lights remotely.

According to Denver project plans, these devices would be installed in the cabs of certain trucks. Those truckers would then be able to turn red lights green and better move through the city.

But the technology would only work on main arteries or routes. An incentive the city hopes will keep trucks out of neighborhoods.

"They need to respect the fact that we live here, and their extra traffic, and extra pollution isn't any good for our kids playing on the streets," said Montoya.

While it all sounds great, it still far from a done deal. Trucking companies still have to agree to install the technology, and the city has said it plans to focus on companies who travel through Denver most often.

The city is considering North Denver as a location to test the technology, but has not finalized those plans.

Denver would be the first in the nation to offer a service like this to the freight industry.

Denver set aside $12 million dollars to make vehicle and traffic signals smarter. Half of that money came from a federal grant.

Ortega also said she is looking at more immediate options like increased signage warning truckers to stay out of neighborhoods as well as stepped up enforcement.