Denver7 | TrafficDriving You Crazy


Driving You Crazy: How hard is it to get a traffic light installed at 56th and Picadilly?

With the increase of new homes and more traffic, residents have been requesting a new light
Posted at 5:38 AM, Jul 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-11 11:40:41-04

Eliza from Adams County writes, “What's driving you crazy? At 56th and Picadilly, there have been many, many accidents, sometimes multiple accidents in the same day. With the increase of new homes and traffic, residents have been requesting a traffic light, stop signs or really anything to be added to this intersection to help make it safer but we feel we are just getting the run around by local government. How difficult is it to actually add traffic control to this intersection?”

Covering traffic and transportation as long as I have, I can say with certainty, adding a traffic signal to any intersection, even if it seems like a no-brainer, can be a ridiculously long process. The intersection of 56th and Picadilly on the northeast corner of Green Valley Ranch is on the line between Denver and Aurora with Aurora taking the lead in developing plans for a signalized intersection.

City staff started the process last year after receiving requests from residents as well as from city council members to evaluate the intersection for a traffic signal. That evaluation found it met criteria for signalization. However, the process to install a permanent signal will take some time as installation for permanent signal poles and mast arms cannot be put in until all of the surrounding construction is complete and the adjacent roads are fully built out.

There are three different developments that have plans to widen each corner of the intersection. These adjacent developers will contribute toward this type of infrastructure, but not until they are further along in their design and permitting process. In the meantime, instead of making drivers wait for this needed safety improvement and knowing this was a priority for residents, the Aurora City Council allocated funds to move forward with the design and construction of a temporary traffic signal. Those plans are almost complete and will be put out for bids with a larger signal package later this year.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

While that sounds like welcome news to the drivers in the neighborhood, there is a problem. Aurora, like all other metro municipalities, is finding it difficult to order and receive new traffic signal equipment. They are also having a hard time coordinating with Xcel Energy to install and connect new electrical lines that will be used to power the temporary and eventual permanent traffic signals. As a result, the temporary signal likely will not be activated until the end of 2024 or early 2025.

While we wait for all of that, Aurora installed flashing stop signs and added additional “stop ahead” signage. Safety is a top priority for the City of Aurora and for the City and County of Denver, Ryan Luby, Aurora’s Deputy Director of Communications, said. “We have reviewed crash data at this intersection to see if there are immediate improvements that can be made to improve safety and we will proceed with the signalization as quickly as possible.”

The engineers at the City of Aurora tell me this is the typical process to install a traffic signal. The signal planning, design, and construction can take two to three years from start to finish. The standard signalization process starts with evaluating the intersection to see if it meets federal and local criteria to be signalized. This evaluation includes a field review, crash review and traffic volume review. Once an intersection is identified for signalization, funding needs to be allocated. Once the money is in place, the topographic survey and design process begins. The survey and design typically take six to eight months to complete.

Once the design is done, the project is advertised as part of a competitive bid process and awarded to one contractor. That process requires another three to four months to complete. Once the contract is executed, the contractor orders equipment and begins construction. Like I mentioned about the City of Aurora, the transportation contracting industry is having trouble with experiencing long lead times to procure equipment, waiting for local utilities to finish their work, finding employees to work on projects so the signal construction process is generally taking roughly 12 to 18 months to complete.

So going back to your original question, “How difficult is it to actually add traffic control to this intersection?” In this case, very difficult. But relief is slowly on the way.

Denver7 Traffic Expert Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on any odcast app including iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Podbean.