Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Passion of NoBo

28th & Palo Pkwy
Iris & 47th Street
In Boulder, we've grown accustomed to "cone zones," where road maintenance is taking place. The influx of new residents to Boulder County is like the gold rush of a century ago, and the roads need fixing to keep up with the demand.

But if you look at the Daily Camera's list of road maintenance sites,
it doesn't include most of the places that have been under construction for an extended period but which still affect traffic flow. North 28th Street (new pipelines, new subdivision at Kalmia) is an example. The big open pit at 28th and Canyon Blvd. (it's been going
on so long we can't remember what it's destined to be. Am I right?). The big open pit at 30th and Pearl (we hear that will be a Google complex--someday.) The 20-story crane towering over the
two-block-long chasm downtown that used to be the Camera building. The burgeoning Boulder Junction stretching from 30th Street eastward. And many more in the works, including permanently affordable housing in Gunbarrel. And that's not including the nightmare of the widening of
US 36 (the Boulder-Denver Turnpike) that has been under way for more than three years or the chronic oversubscription of I-70 by semi trucks and skiing enthusiasts.

Former Wonderland Creek bike trail
The boom in construction in Boulder is touted by our leaders as a sign
of the pent-up demand that accumulated since the 2008 Great Recession. Long-time residents have been shocked by the huge amount of
tear down, build up happening in our city.

Bearing the brunt of this change is North Boulder. Several
neighborhoods tried to slow things down by proposing an
ill-thought-out change to the city charter that would allow them a say
in projects directly affecting them. Of course, the change was voted
down 2 to 1 by the city as a whole. Only a revolt by Boulder as a whole against the "right-sizing" of Folsom and Iris Streets to remove traffic lanes in favor of bicycle lanes made a dent in the go-go-approve-everything drive of our city planning department. Unfortunately, bad planning led to a cessation of a project that probably would have actually been beneficial.

But the fact remains that North Boulder neighborhoods are being affected disproportionately by all this construction "maintenance" and development.

This is evident when I try to leave my neighborhood in Four Mile Creek. The Iris Street construction went ahead anyway, so leaving from the east (47th Street) side of the neighborhood has become a permanent yet ever-changing cone zone.

No problem. Right. Just head west, toward 28th Street. Oh, wrong. That's being torn up for pipeline replacement.

Well, it's a nice day. How about riding my bike over to the Safeway? Woops, the Wonderland Creek bike path connector's been closed for construction of a new subdivision near Palo Park, while hundreds of trees are unceremoniously ripped from the riverbed.

Well, maybe ride the bike (putting up with tracing through the Iris construction) from the east side and taking the Goose Creek bike trail toward Whole Foods. That's in better shape after two years of construction at Boulder Junction. Yeek! The bike corridor is now a narrow canyon with high stone walls, offering no visibility of the additional walkers and bikers pouring down onto Goose Creek from Boulder Junction.

There's no bus service within a one-mile walking distance, but two new developments abutting Four Mile Creek, Palo Park, and Northfield Commons have been proposed, one already approved, and one postponed (along Iris).

Here's the deal. I can't get out of my neighborhood without a lot of stress. I can't get into or out of Boulder without a lot of stress. I'm feeling trapped in a city that is choking on its own progress. And NIMBY is not an option, unlike in central neighborhoods like Goss-Grove.

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