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A collaborative transportation forum in Arapahoe County that could include several cities and towns — like Aurora, Englewood, Littleton and Centennial — may be the new system that decides where federal transportation dollars go throughout the county.
The group started meeting in October and is on a monthly meeting schedule, but the intent of the agreement is to meet on an as-needed basis, said Travis Greiman, public-works director for Centennial.
Centennial agreed to enter the partnership in April. Other votes on opting into the proposed intergovernmental agreement, which establishes that the forum will govern the funds, are scheduled for the member cities’ and towns’ elected officials throughout May and June, Greiman said.
All the proposed projects are identified in Centennial’s 2013 Transportation Master Plan and its 2015 10-year plan for capital improvements, or infrastructure updates.
Tired of that thin stretch of East County Line Road between South Broadway and South University Boulevard? How about the intersections on East Arapahoe Road? Ever lament the commute through East Belleview Avenue?
Drivers may be in luck. Centennial agreed to enter a partnership between several cities and towns in Arapahoe County at a recent city council meeting, where the city opted into a transportation forum that meets to decide how federal money granted to the county will be spent.
If all entities opt in, the agreement would also include the cities of Aurora, Cherry Hills Village, Englewood, Glendale, Greenwood Village, Sheridan and Littleton; the towns of Bennett, Bow Mar, Columbine Valley, Deer Trail and Foxfield; and Arapahoe County.
“This is the first agreement of its kind” for the city, said Travis Greiman, public-works director for Centennial.
Historically, the city had to compete against the whole region of the Denver Regional Council of Governments — including a multitude of cities and towns in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and more counties — for federal transportation money, a city report said.
DRCOG, often pronounced “Dr. Cog,” leads urban-planning efforts for the Denver area and acts as the conduit for grant money to flow to local agencies.
Under a new proposed model, money would be broken up among counties in the region for local transportation projects. Cities and towns would still compete for 20 percent of the funds for regional projects, like a project on Interstate 70, but 80 percent of the money would be split among each county based on population, vehicle miles traveled and the employment in the counties. Each county would oversee the funds, and the county and its cities and towns would compete for that money.
Arapahoe County would receive about $35 million for the 2020-23 cycle of the roadway-project funding under that proposed model.
Although different transportation projects have unique requirements that determine cost, for context, $35 million is roughly half the cost of the interchange project at Interstate 25 and Arapahoe Road, Greiman said.
To oversee how the dollars are spent, the municipalities in Arapahoe County met to create an intergovernmental agreement, or an IGA, to establish a collaborative forum on transportation — that's what Centennial City Council approved April 16. The cities and towns will have say in what the best use of the money is.
And it's important to have a seat at the table — the list of priorities in Arapahoe County is long, Greiman said.
“It includes projects like a corridor study of Santa Fe (Drive) through Arapahoe County, Hampden/Broadway bridge replacement, I-25/Belleview interchange improvements (and) Parker/Quincy intersection improvements,” Greiman said. The two leading candidates within Centennial limits are County Line Road widening from University Boulevard to Broadway, and intersection improvements on Arapahoe Road from I-25 to South Parker Road, he added.
Concrete plans for what the projects would look like haven't been identified, but the projects would undergo design if grant money is awarded for them, Greiman said.
Residents may remember that Centennial announced joining a transportation alliance of similar size in September — the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, a partnership of public, private and academic institutions working to make life easier along the central Front Range.
The cities of Arvada, Aurora, Denver, Centennial, Greenwood Village, Littleton, Lone Tree, Boulder, Longmont, Westminster, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs are a part of that alliance, which plans to share best practices with its members. The Colorado Innovation Corridor, Colorado Technology Association, University of Colorado-Denver and Arrow Electronics are among the private and public entities also in the partnership.
“We're all in the situation of managing growth,” said Stephanie Piko, mayor of Centennial, in September.
Centennial plans to take the technological route and enhance its system of traffic cameras and sensors. Doing so will enable the city to time its traffic lights more accurately to traffic flows, Piko said. Police, fire officers and medical responders would also benefit from getting real-time updates about traffic and accidents.
That's the kind of project that the Smart Cities Alliance aims to share data about among its members. It meets quarterly to discuss challenges, its website said.
But that alliance and the Arapahoe County forum are likely to be independent of each other, Greiman said.
“The Smart Cities Alliance is focused on advancing technology,” Greiman said. We “don't expect federal participation in the (alliance) at this moment, whereas the transportation forum is about programming federal transportation dollars within Arapahoe County.”
For more information on DRCOG, go to drcog.org.
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