With more population comes more traffic, and with that comes lane expansions and added noise.
The Colorado Department of Transportation had two open houses at the Highlands Ranch Metro District headquarters Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 to present its analysis of traffic noise generated by C-470, which is being widened by two and, in some places, three toll lanes starting in 2016.
CDOT researched noise levels during “worst-case scenario” travel hours and peak traffic times, and projected what those numbers will be when the entire widening is completed around 2018, said Jon Chesser, environmental project manager for CDOT.
Officials presented the numbers to homeowners who live near the interstate, along with recommendations to mitigate the increased noise, during the open houses. The second night drew more than 60 people who had questions pertaining to everything from how the studies were conducted to what impacts the noise might have on home values.
Any homeowners exposed to sound below 66 decibels are considered not impacted by traffic noise, Chesser said, citing state and federal standards.
Those who are affected will have the opportunity to vote on whether they want a noise barrier, such as a wall or berm, and a vote of 50 percent in favor is required to build a barrier. The extent of mitigation measures will also be weighed against construction costs.
Some residents were upset that their homes were not within the zone that recommended noise abatement features. That included William Berg, who bought his home on Mallard Place, near Colorado Boulevard and Venneford Ranch Road, just six months ago. He was attending his first public meeting about the widening Feb. 11 after receiving a letter and postcard from the state. Berg, whose top concern is noise, was surprised to find there was no recommendation for a wall or berm behind his house on the poster boards at the meeting, despite his proximity to C-470.
“Even though my house backs up directly to 470 and it's going to expand closer to my house with more traffic, I'm not a candidate for noise mitigation,” he said, before pointing out homes on an enlarged map that appeared to be equal distance or further from the lanes of traffic that will have the option.
Berg was unaware of the plans to add the toll lanes to C-470 before purchasing his home and said he is considering selling before the project starts.
Others who carefully eyed the maps at the open houses were glad to see noise barriers recommended for their area of the heavily used corridor. Ray and Mary Gutkowski, who moved into the Villas at Verona near C-470 and Santa Fe Drive more than a year ago, pointed at a wall that has been suggested as a buffer between the development and the highway. Ray Gutkowski pointed out that traffic noise will also be blocked by four-story buildings on the development’s south end.
They are not concerned about a drop in property value because they believe the value is “based on the property itself,” not its proximity to C-470, Mary Gutkowski said.
Numerous experts in fields from sound acoustics to civil engineering were on hand to answer questions from homeowners at the Feb. 11 open house. It was the latest meeting in what has thus far been a two-and-a-half-year outreach effort to include the public.
“We want your feedback in your words,” Chesser said.
Berg hopes that public sentiment will resonate with decision-makers, particularly because homeowners near the highway want to protect their investments and quality of life. Although residents can do so online, Berg planned to submit his comments in writing and knock on doors in his neighborhood to promote awareness.
"Hopefully the process will work,” he said. “That's what it's in place for.”
For more information or to provide input, go to www.codot.gov/projects and click on 'C-470 Express Lanes' below the 'Denver Metro - Region 1' icon.
Project by the numbers
$269 million — cost for construction, which will be partially funded through the issuance of bonds that will be paid back by tolls.
112,000 — current number of vehicles per day on C-470 between Quebec and Yosemite streets
3 — toll lanes to be built between I-25 and Colorado Boulevard; two westbound and one eastbound
13 feet to 20 feet — height of walls that will act as noise barriers along certain parts of C-470
42 percent to 52 percent — average weekday traffic increase between 2013 and 2035
10 decibels — no homeowner is expected to experience an increase of 10 or more decibels as a result of the widening
Neighborhoods affected: Columbine Hills, Villas at Verona, Meadowbrook, Wingate, Redstone Ranch, Chatfield Bluffs, Palomino Park, Canyon Ranch, Shadow Canyon, Province Center/Gleneagle and Township at Highlands Ranch, among others.
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