Driving You Crazy: I can't safely get out of my Foxfield neighborhood onto Arapahoe Road

Can the county build a dedicated left turn lane?
Posted at 7:11 AM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 09:11:44-05

In a follow-up story to a traffic light issue on Arapahoe Road at Buckley in Arapahoe County, I received this Driving You Crazy email from Kathy in Foxfield, “I live in Foxfield and for the past 6 months or more the light exiting Foxfield heading north will not change to red. There is no way to get out of our neighborhood. I have been talking to our mayor and Jerry who you interviewed and am getting a bit of a round around. Would you be interested in writing another story as a follow-up? I have to drive south to get out of Foxfield.”

Foxfield is the small metro Denver town southeast of Parker and Arapahoe roads. It is a little over one square mile in size with about 800 residents. They have large plots of land there. Some residents have horses. It’s like country living in the city.

The intersection Kathy is talking about is the one lane road on northbound Richfield street at Arapahoe Road. It turns into Buckley Road, north of Arapahoe. That intersection has a small raised divider and only one lane to either go north onto Buckley or make the left or right turn onto Arapahoe Road. There isn’t a dedicated left or right turn lane there so drivers have to wait in a single file line if someone is turning left to make it through the intersection.

“The existing street width can accommodate only one lane of exiting traffic. This is why currently the traffic signal phasing for the northbound approach is limited to a green ball for this shared left/through and right movement,” said Arapahoe County Traffic Operations Manager Jerry Maschka.

Employees from Arapahoe County Public Works, including Maschka, came out to watch the intersection and see how traffic flows in all directions. They found the drivers trying to turn left out of Foxfield are having to wait for the right turners from Buckley to go west on Arapahoe Road before they make the turn creating a backup on the northbound side of Richfield.

The latest traffic counts done in the last few months show during the morning peak period from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., a total of 3,236 vehicles for both the northbound left turn and the southbound right turn lanes. Of these, 3,204 vehicles are southbound right turns and 32 vehicles are northbound left turns. During just the busiest morning peak hour, there are only 10 northbound left turns vs 1,299 southbound right turns.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

The traffic counts during the afternoon peak period between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. show a total of 1,675 vehicles for both the northbound left turn and the southbound right turn lanes. Of these, 1,632 vehicles are southbound right turns and 43 vehicles are northbound left turns. During just the busiest afternoon peak hour, there are only 19 northbound left turns vs 580 southbound right turns.

One of the considerations Arapahoe County Public Works made at this intersection is weighing the accident history as it pertains to the left turn from Foxfield to westbound Arapahoe Road.

“Available accident history at our disposal does not indicate an accident pattern. However, our observations have shown that there is potential occurrence for conflict when motorists do not adhere to legal right-of-way for permissive signal indications.  To this end, we did ask for the ACSO to monitor and provide additional enforcement at this location during peak hours which they agreed to do,” Maschka said.

Jerry told me his conclusion is that he would not recommend a dedicated northbound left turn lane or any other signal timing phase modifications at this time. In order to build a dedicated turn lane, Arapahoe County says it would require significant improvement work on the south side of the intersection to accommodate another lane. This work would not be county responsibility, but would ultimately fall under the Town of Foxfield.

He does recommend though “that the southbound right turn 'cat-track' striping that helps to delineate correct lane usage be re-applied when weather/pavement conditions allow.” This could make the drivers turning north feel more comfortable turning left at the same time the southbound traffic turns right.

Kathy indicated to me that she sometimes will go out of her way to the intersection of Jamison and Parker Road to avoid the left turn at Richfield. Just to the east of her home, Waco Street has two dedicated left turn lanes to go west on Arapahoe Road. It is a safer alternate to the less protected turn at Richfield.  

Jerry also said he would consider a “Left Turn Yield On Green Ball” overhead sign for the northbound Richfield approach to Arapahoe adding, “with any change to existing infrastructure, we need to be able to show that the recommended modification will not negatively affect other areas of the transportation system (in this case the Arapahoe Road corridor).  This is especially true of any potential change to the signal phasing/timing of a traffic signal,” Maschka said. 

I talk more about this issue in the 9th episode of my weekly podcast called Driving You Crazy. Available on most podcast apps including ITunes, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud. 

Denver7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 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 Facebookand Twitter or listen to hisDriving You Crazy podcast.