Improvements planned for stretch of Santa Fe in Highlands Ranch

Construction from Highlands Ranch Parkway to County Line Road scheduled to begin in 2019


The future of a two-mile stretch of Santa Fe Drive that runs along the western border of Highlands Ranch looks promising.

A project to improve capacity and safety along Sante Fe, from Highlands Ranch Parkway to County Line Road, is expected to begin in 2019, according to a July 19 presentation at a Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The stretch of road is used by about 40,000 motorists per day, said Jason Longsdorf, senior transportation planner of the project's engineer firm, HDR, which is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Highlands Ranch Parkway to C-470 Project's plans accommodate anticipated traffic volume in the year 2040 — about 70,000 motorists per day.

Slated for a 2021 completion, the corridor will have three lanes in each direction — north and southbound now have two — raised medians and a continuous-flow intersection. Unlike a traditional signalized intersection, a CFI has left-turning traffic placed left of oncoming traffic and well before the signal light. The concept reduces backup caused by turning traffic and provides more green light time for main routes, according to the presentation.

The alternative design is slowly emerging in the Front Range. The first CFI in Colorado was built in 2010 in the city of Loveland. Construction of a Wheatridge CFI, at 38th and Wadsworth, is expected to begin in 2019.

The Santa Fe project's start date is two years out, in part, because of the nearby C-470 Express Lanes Expansion Project.

"It will make the project much simpler to wait until 2019 when the C-470 construction project is complete," Longsdorf said, "so we can have access to most convenient construction staging areas, and we won’t need to coordinate traveler information updates and detours with that project."

The project is the result of a 2015 Planning and Environmental Linkage study conducted by Douglas County to analyze necessary improvements along US 85 from State Highway 67 in Sedalia to County Line Road in Highlands Ranch.

The $70 million project will be paid for by county, state and federal funds, according to HDR.

Residential and commercial growth in northwest Douglas County, including Sterling Ranch, a development of 12,000 homes with a 20-year build out, and Central Park, a multi-use development under construction in Highlands Ranch, prompted a desire to look at the Highlands Ranch Parkway to C-470 corridor, Longsdorf said.

A corridor stakeholder group — of representatives from dozens of regional organizations, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, South Metro Fire Rescue, Highlands Ranch Community Association, Douglas County School District and others — formed in 2015 to provide direction and feedback on the project.

HDR is now finalizing design plans and beginning right-of-way acquisition.


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