The intersection of 32nd Avenue and Youngfield Street has been a busy one for years, especially during rush hour, but the city of Wheat Ridge will soon begin a project to change that.
The intersection, which is near ramps connecting to Interstate 70, is very congested, said Wheat Ridge Director of Public Works Tim Paranto.
About 13,700 cars travel through the intersection every day.
To help reduce the congestion and make the intersection safer for motorists, the city is going to expand 32nd Avenue.
“We’re going to widen the road under the interstate and end up with two lefthand turn lanes in each direction,” Paranto said.
The widening of 32nd Avenue will begin at Wright Court and end at Alkire Street to the east, and of Youngfield at 31st Avenue and end north past 32nd.
The additional turn lanes in each direction will help motorists get through the intersection faster, reducing the number of cars waiting at the lights to turn on or off of I-70.
“It will make it easier for everyone,” Paranto said. “It’s been a concern for the community for at least 20 years, so we’re looking forward to making the improvements.”
Though the widening will help solve some of the problems the intersection causes, the widening project is only phase one of a two-phase project.
Phase two, which has been approved by City Council, but has no timeline for completion, would move the on-ramp to I-70 east to Zinnia Street, eliminating the light at Zinnia and allowing for a smoother flow of traffic onto the interstate, among other changes.
Phase one has been in the planning stages since 2005, so it is not known when phase two will start, Paranto said. The city is still looking for additional funding possibilities for phase two.
Construction of phase one, however, is slated to begin in January and be completed in the spring. The project will be done by Concrete Works of Colorado from Lafayette.
Paranto said the city has worked with Concrete Works to establish a construction schedule that will minimally affect the flow of traffic through the already-congested intersection.
“We’re trying to minimize the impact of the widening,” he said. “We’ll maintain traffic at all times, so it won’t interfere with any one direction. We have an agreement with the construction company that they can’t close the road.”
The project is estimated to cost upwards of $5.5 million. It is being paid for with a federal grant of $2.9 million and local funding.
Wheat Ridge is responsible for picking up the remaining $2.6 million, but Jefferson County has agreed to reimburse the city for $1.25 million because part of the affected area is in unincorporated Jeffco.
Paranto said the project was budgeted for $5.5 million, but he expects it to actually cost about $4.6 million.