Agreement addresses traffic concerns in northwest Douglas County

New roads will ease traffic congestion, improve public safety, county officials say

Posted 12/13/18

A partnership between the Sterling Ranch Community Authority Board and Douglas County will address traffic concerns in the growing northwest region of the county. Per an intergovernmental agreement …

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Agreement addresses traffic concerns in northwest Douglas County

New roads will ease traffic congestion, improve public safety, county officials say

Posted

A partnership between the Sterling Ranch Community Authority Board and Douglas County will address traffic concerns in the growing northwest region of the county.

Per an intergovernmental agreement signed Nov. 13, construction of two roadways that will offer motorists a third route in and out of the Chatfield Valley will begin next year.

County officials say the project will ease traffic congestion in the area. Sterling Ranch is expected to grow by 33,000 people over the next 20 years. At completion, the $4.4 billion multi-generational development is expected to have 12,000 homes on 3,400 acres with schools, churches, shopping, recreation and innovative technology.

About 260 homes are currently filled. On Dec. 4, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a third preliminary filing that will bring hundreds more.

County officials say the additional route is necessary for incident management and emergency-response time.

“When all completed, these projects will provide additional access to the Roxborough and Chatfield communities to Highway 85 and Waterton Canyon to address traffic issues of access, convenience and safety for years to come,” Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge said in an email.

Alternate route

In February 2019, Douglas County will begin construction of a two- and three-lane road —known as the Southern Connector — connecting Moore Road to the intersection of Airport Road and Louviers Boulevard, west of Highway 85. The county's Road Sales and Use Tax Fund will fund the $15 million, roughly three-mile stretch.

Sterling Ranch has agreed to fund $15 million of phase two of the project, called Waterton Central. The two-lane road — with room for up to six lanes — will extend Waterton Road east from the North Rampart Range Road intersection in Roxborough to Moore Road, about 3 miles.

The county will provide an advancement of $5 million to fast-track phase two. Sterling Ranch is required to pay back the funds with interest within five years, according to county documents. Construction of phase two is expected to begin in the middle of next year.

When both roads are completed in an estimated three years, motorists will have an alternate route from the Chatfield Valley south to Castle Rock or Colorado Springs. County officials say travelers will save two to three miles of driving.

Public safety

Currently, only two roads exist in and out of Roxborough, a community of about 9,000 people west of Highlands Ranch. Titan Road — the majority is two lanes —connects Roxborough to Highway 85 and Waterton Road stretches north to Wadsworth Boulevard and C-470.

The limited access puts pressure on Titan Road, which sees about 17,000 motorists a day on a stretch near Highway 85, according to Matt Williams, Douglas County's development review manager. A variety of motorists travel the road, from commuters to school bus drivers to residents of Sterling Ranch.

In 2017, 13 accidents happened on Titan Road, according to Chief Deputy Tim Moore of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. In 2018, there were 23.

“An accident can back up the road for two hours,” Moore said. “A serious accident could close the road for a couple of hours.”

The additional route will also improve safety in the case of a natural disaster, such as a wildfire or flooding, county officials say.

In Moore's 28 years with the sheriff's office, Roxborough has had to evacuate two times due to wildfires. Both instances occurred at night.

“There is no way that the two current roads can manage that type of vehicular traffic when there is not an emergency,” Moore said of the projected growth of the area. “When there is an emergency, it's a huge problem.”

Moore said the project is long overdue.

“We see this as a massive improvement for public safety to get in and to get out when there is heavy traffic or an emergency,” he said.

Solving a regional problem

Harold Smethills, managing director of Sterling Ranch, foresees the additional route benefiting existing residents of the Chatfield Valley and future residents of his development. Traffic has been an ongoing concern among residents in the region, he said.

“The one prevailing message that we heard time and again from the Roxborough community was related to transportation and connectivity throughout the Chatfield Valley,” Smethills said in a news release. “We're looking forward (to) providing a solution that has been on the Douglas County Master Plan for many years but without the funding or partner to solve it.”

Amy Sherman, CEO of the Northwest Douglas County Economic Development Corporation, has a similar outlook.

“Our organization has long been an advocate for the Waterton Extension and Southern Connector,” Sherman said in the news release. “This important addition to the mobility network in our region will help residents and employees travel safer and more efficiently.”

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