EDITOR’S DESK: The storm before the calming

       Normally, the revelation that the city is about to bring “traffic calming” to an excessively busy Westside residential street (17th, between Uintah and Colorado - see story, Page 9) would be exciting news. But there has been nothing normal about the 17th Street situation, or for that matter Broadway Street (another supposedly high-priority calming segment), since the two neighborhoods separately began seeking help through what's officially known as the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP) program several years ago. The problem with the NTMP has been one delay after another. Always the intentions have been good, and it appears that no money has been wasted. Just a lot of time.
       17th Street's application goes back eight years in all, Broadway's five. There was one delay between '03 and '04 when the city lacked an NTMP director. Both projects got selected in '05 and, after meetings with the residents, work was scheduled for spring 2006. Holland Park Boulevard also made the calming list in '06, and all three were to get "test phase" installations that year. But there were more delays. A key materials supplier went out of business. The weather turned bad. City engineering staff wasn't available. Inflation raised the costs.
       Last summer, a new, streamlined plan emerged. No more test phases. No more jumping from one project to another. The jobs would be prioritized (17th Street first, Broadway fourth, Holland Park fifth), and a crew would tackle one, then the next, until the money ran out. One announced cost-saver was to assign the same crew to both 17th and a nearby project to build a new access from 18th to St. Vrain. But the St. Vrain project got scrubbed. Then the city decided 17th needed a drainage study to be sure the calming structures (such as bump-outs) didn't adversely affect storm flows.
       Now, at last the city is set to go on 17th Street. The plans should be ready any day now. Work will be starting this spring. They think. So we are told. Stay tuned.

- K.J.