West of Kipling, West 38th Avenue is arguably not the safest place to bicycle or walk, due to lack of sidewalks and poor drainage on some segments of the roadway.
Wheat Ridge City Council has agreed to fix that, but it depends on what the community wants and who will pay for it.
“Re-examine and Advance Sidewalks on 38th Avenue” was identified as a priority in the city’s 2021-2022 Strategic Plan, and city staff asked for feedback and direction on a potential master planning design process at the Dec. 6 study session.
“Staff will be returning to city council in 2022 for consideration of a scope of work and a request for a budget supplemental to create a master plan study and drainage plan for West 38th,” said Wheat Ridge Public Information Officer/Communications Manager Sara Spaulding in an email to the Neighborhood Gazette. “The initial phase of work for 38th Avenue would be to gather community input. There would be significant community outreach to gather that input.”
Although the staff memo included a possible three-year schedule and $18 million cost estimate, Spaulding reiterated that community outreach is the first step, and no specific improvements have been selected.
But the problems have been identified.
“The current street facilities are still substantially substandard from a walking and biking standpoint. The existing bike/ped facilities are inconsistent throughout the corridor with many pedestrians using the shoulders to walk and bike…” according to the staff memo. “In addition, the middle 70 percent of 38th Avenue West does not have adequate drainage facilities to handle even minor storm flows. The existing roadside ditches do not have adequate capacity resulting in water often ponding on the side of the road and flooding the roadway shoulder in locations throughout the corridor.”
The Neighborhood Gazette asked how a roadway can be acceptable when built, but not so much today.
“We believe the most significant reason things have changed regarding West 38th over the years is that multimodal needs have increased since the roadway was first established,” said Spaulding after talking with Ken Johnstone, Director of Community Development. “Today, more people are focused on their physical health and maintaining an active lifestyle to include walking, running, and biking. For roadways in some communities this often means adding sidewalks and bike lanes.”
“There are currently ordinances in place regarding new development requiring sidewalks as well as requirements for stormwater drainage directed by the citywide drainage plan in conjunction with the Mile High Flood District.”
This is not Wheat Ridge’s first attempt to improve the corridor. In 2008, voters were asked to approve a temporary sales tax increase and bond to reconstruct 38th between Kipling and Youngfield streets, according to the memo. The issue failed, with 9,142 against and 5,592 for.
Some incremental improvements have been made since, including speed zones and flashing beacons at pedestrian crossings between Nelson Street and Ward Road. That 2017-18 project was funded by a Kaiser Permanente Active Living Neighborhood Grant secured by Localworks.
Spaulding said opportunities for community input will include neighborhood meetings, open houses, commenting on What’s Up Wheat Ridge, Wheat Ridge Speaks and at council meetings.