Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

Master Plan

5. Transportation

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5.1 Assessment of Existing System and Its Deficiencies
       5.1.1 Existing County Roadway Network
       5.1.2 County Roadway Deficiencies
              Existing Traffic Volumes
              Bridge Structures
              Unpaved Roadways
              Paved Roadways
              Safety And Intersection Deficiencies
       5.1.3 Bicycle Facilities
       5.1.4 Transit System
       5.1.5 Rail System
5.2 Future Transportation Plan
       5.2.1 Potential Mobility Corridors
5.3 Guiding Principles And Implementation Strategies for Transportation

The transportation system plays a key role in determining land use patterns. On the other hand, land use is an important factor in determining roadway functions and designs. Consequently, land use planning and transportation planning must be coordinated to achieve the objectives of each.
The primary purpose of a transportation system is to move people and goods in a safe and efficient manner. A variety of different travel demands needs to be considered to fulfill this purpose, as in the case of traffic passing through the County versus traffic from rural parts of the County with a city destination. The movement of people and goods also involves various transportation modes - vehicular, transit, pedestrian and bicycle - to provide for a high degree of mobility to all segments of the population.

The County roadway system is currently the key element of the transportation system in accommodating the majority of travel needs outside municipal limits. This is likely to remain the case into the foreseeable future as some form of private automobile remains the primary mode of transportation. Therefore, it is important to develop a transportation plan that will enable the County to identify a system to satisfy the travel needs of County residents.
In the past, the County roadway network was designed to serve rural and regional needs. Arterial and local roads were constructed in conjunction with low-density development patterns. Recent growth and development in the County have created an increase in traffic demands on this roadway network that are not easily accommodated.

The County's ability to construct new roads and improve existing roads is severely limited due to lack of funding. A majority of the County's road and bridge budget is currently used for maintenance and repair of existing roads. These maintenance costs are directly attributable to a high number of road miles serving a large geographic area of somewhat low density and scattered development.

5.1 Assessment of Existing System and Its Deficiencies

In an effort to understand how transportation is currently provided within the County, an inventory of the existing system's elements was conducted for the Front Range Study Area. The existing transportation system was inventoried through a variety of sources, including the County roadway database, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) bridge inventories, Larimer County Transportation Plan Technical Advisory Group, public meetings and citizens' comments. This inventory focused primarily on the roadway network but also included the transit system, bicycle facilities and rail transportation system.

5.1.1 Existing County Roadway Network

Along with the state highway system which serves as a backbone within the Front Range Study Area, the County roadway system provides the dominant transportation network in the region.
A roadway network is typically comprised of a hierarchy of road types. In general, roads serve two functions: access and mobility. The degree to which a road serves these functions defines the functional classification of the road. Local roads and collector roads principally provide access to businesses, residential developments, schools, etc. Arterial roads primarily provide mobility by connecting major destinations.

Identifying the functional classification of existing and proposed roads is important for day-to-day planning and engineering activities in at least two ways: (1) it defines the right-of-way that needs to be acquired or reserved for future roadway improvements and (2) it determines the spacing of access points onto the roadway. The functional classification, in combination with design standards for each of the roadway classes, also determines the improvements that are necessary to existing roads and how new roads should be designed and constructed. Table 5.1 summarizes the mileage of existing County roads.

Minor Arterials: Arterial streets provide for direct traffic movement from one central area to another. They frequently form boundaries for developments and provide access to abutting developments.

Major/Minor Collectors: Collector streets are the main interior streets within and between the development areas. Their main functions are to collect and distribute traffic from the local streets. Generally, collector streets do not provide access to adjacent developments. Collector street traffic typically has an origin or destination nearby.

Table 5.1 Roadway Miles By Functional Classification. 
Functional Classification 
Total County Roads  
Percentage of Total County Miles  Front Range Study Area Roads  
Percentage of Front Range Study Area Miles 
Minor Arterial  60 6% 30 7%
Major Collector  70 7% 65 15%
Minor Collector  425 43% 165 38%
Local Road  435 44% 170 40%
Total 990 100% 430 100%
Source: Draft Transportation Element, Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, October 1996 
(Does not include Schedule A Forest Service Roads which are maintained by the County). 

Local Roads: The primary function of a local road is to provide access to adjacent land uses in the area. Local roads typically have lower travel speeds and through traffic is highly discouraged. However, this is not necessarily the case in some rural areas of the County where local roads provide inter-city travel with higher speeds.

5.1.2 County Roadway Deficiencies

Vehicular travel, transit systems and the majority of bicycle travel in this area rely heavily on a well maintained and complete roadway system and network. Overall the County roadway system in the Front Range Study Area is in good physical condition. Deficiencies are noted in congestion (traffic volume exceeding capacity), structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges, unpaved roadways where traffic exceeds County average daily trip (ADT) standards, needed road improvements based on projected roadway needs, re-alignment and roadway widening (increasing from two to four lanes), and locations with high accident/hazard levels. This list of deficiencies does not include improvements needed on existing roads where travel lanes and shoulders need widening, as new design standards for each road functional classification have not yet been developed (see Section 5.2).

Existing Traffic Volumes

Traffic volumes indicate the relative importance of a roadway in an area. When compared to roadway capacity estimates, traffic volumes also reveal, in a general way, how a road is functioning (level of service) and if improvements are necessary to increase capacity.

The most commonly used measurement of traffic volume is Average Daily Traffic (ADT). ADT is defined as the total number of vehicles passing a certain point in both directions in a 24-hour period. Existing traffic volume data were compiled from two main sources, Larimer County Department of Public Works and Larimer County Planning Department. The data provided were collected over the last five years

Corridor levels of service were determined using the existing ADT volumes for various roadway segments. The County roads performing below a level of service C are County Road 17 within and between the Fort Collins and Loveland Urban Growth Areas and between Loveland and Berthoud, and County Road 19 in the Fort Collins Urban Growth Area.

Bridge Structures

Bridges are an important element of the roadway system. Deterioration of bridges is becoming a serious problem throughout Larimer County. Bridges are inspected and evaluated by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on a regular basis. Through this inspection program, structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges are defined as follows:
  • Structurally Deficient: Those bridges in advanced stages of deterioration or in marginal structural condition but still functioning at a minimal level. This category also includes bridges that do not have desired load-carrying capacities.
  • Functionally Obsolete: Those bridges that have acceptable load carrying capacity but that impose unacceptable physical restrictions such as narrow width, restricted vertical clearance, limited sight distances, speed-reducing curves or insufficient waterway capacity.
Bridges are routinely inspected and rated based on a sufficiency rating from zero to 100. Any bridge rated below 80 is a potential candidate for rehabilitation or replacement. Currently, 216 bridges within Larimer County are included in CDOT's bridge inspection program, which includes all structures that are 20 feet wide or more. CDOT has identified 58 bridges eligible for rehabilitation or replacement projects. Of these, 54 of the bridges are within the Front Range Study Area.

Unpaved Roadways

The inventory indicates that about 660 miles of roadways in the County are currently unpaved. State air pollution regulations require owners and operators of unpaved roads with vehicle traffic exceeding 200 vehicles per day to use all available, practical, reasonable methods to minimize particulate emissions. Paving is the most effective available control method. Using these criteria, approximately 100 miles of the existing roadway system have been identified as requiring paving for all of Larimer County. Approximately 60 miles of the 100 total miles are located within the Front Range Study Area.

Paved Roadways

Roadway deficiencies were identified based on projected roadway needs, re-alignment and roadway widening (increasing from two to four lanes). Approximately 42 miles of roadway in the County were considered for improvements based on these needs, of which 37 miles are located within the Front Range Study Area.

Safety And Intersection Deficiencies

A review of reported accidents over the last four years and calculated accident rates within the County identified numerous high accident locations. Perceived high accident/hazard locations were also identified by the Larimer County Transportation Plan Technical Advisory Group and the general public. This process identified 21 projects, of which 16 are located within the Front Range Area.

5.1.3 Bicycle Facilities

The Larimer County Parks Department has been implementing a bikeway system over the last ten years. These bikeways include designated bike routes, on-street striped bike lanes and off-road multi-purpose trails. Each bike facility has very specific definitions, as follows:
  • Bicycle Trail: A trail, path or segment of a bikeway completely separated from the roadway and used exclusively for bicycles and pedestrians (i.e., off-street recreation trails and sidewalk trails).
  • Bicycle Lane: A portion of a roadway designed for bicycles, distinguished by a paint stripe, curb or similar device.
  • Bicycle Route: A system of bikeways which interacts with motorized traffic, does not have a separate lane and is designated by route markers. Bicyclists must share the same roadway with motor vehicles.
The Cities of Fort Collins and Loveland are also developing a bikeway and trail system. Coordination between jurisdictions is essential to provide linkages between city and County facilities and among the communities within the County.

5.1.4 Transit System

The existing transit system serving County residents includes public and specialized providers, commercial providers and inter-city providers.

TransFort currently provides fixed-route public transit in Fort Collins, oriented towards Colorado State University students and persons who are transit-dependent. . Commuter Pool provides carpool matching and vanpool services in Larimer and Weld Counties.

Paratransit services are oriented to the needs of persons who are elderly or who have disabilities. Providers include Dial-A-Ride and Senior Alternatives in Transportation provided in Fort Collins and Loveland, Extra Special People Transportation in Loveland and Berthoud Area Transit. Foothills-Gateway also provides a significant level of services for its clients, generally in the communities of Fort Collins, Loveland and Berthoud. Other areas of Larimer County have little or no service.

Inter-city bus service (TNM&O and Greyhound) is available in Larimer County. In addition to regular inter-city services, there is currently regular service to the Denver International Airport through Airport Express and Shamrock Taxi.

Larimer County participated in the 1996-2002 Transit Development Plan in 1995-96, which identifies improvements to transit services in Fort Collins, Loveland and Larimer County to help provide effective transit services in the region. The plan was developed through the North Front Range Regional Air Quality and Planning Council, the regional transportation planning organization for the Fort Collins-Loveland-Greeley urban area. The Transit Development Plan identifies how transit services can be improved to provide a viable alternative to automobile travel. Because each area is starting with a very different level of transit services and has different needs, the steps to improve services in each area are different.

In rural Larimer County, the mission is "To work together to provide public and specialized transit services which contribute to a balanced multi-modal transportation system in the county, which foster the economical social and environmental well-being of the area, and which are financially feasible."

5.1.5 Rail System

The rail transportation system in Larimer County serves the primary purpose of moving freight. Although passenger rail service in Larimer County is not available at this time, the concept of commuter rail to serve this area is beginning to develop. CDOT has initiated a feasibility study that will evaluate 15 potential commuter rail corridors in the state. The three existing rail corridors in the County are included in this study.

5.2 Future Transportation Plan

Larimer County road

Larimer County is in the process of developing a Transportation Plan based on existing conditions, projected land uses and expected growth and development in the region, and the principles and strategies of this Master Plan. The Transportation Plan will contain several parts, including:
  • a revised functional classification for the County roadway system, and
  • a bikeway plan that addresses the needs of both commuters and recreational users.
When the Transportation Plan is complete, it will be adopted as an element of the Larimer County Master Plan. Additionally, the County will develop design standards for roads and bikeways, which will be incorporated into the Land Use Code and a methodology for developing the capital improvement program for transportation facilities.

5.2.1 Potential Mobility Corridors

The concept of a mobility corridor is to provide/accommodate future transportation technologies including light rail or other passenger rail systems. It is anticipated that mobility corridors will be a key in the future transportation system serving development centers identified by the land use plan.

The purpose of identifying potential mobility corridors is to reserve right-of-way in the development of land use planning for future roadway extensions and expansions to accommodate this concept. Therefore, as part of the future roadway network, it is essential that various mobility corridors be identified for future transportation needs. The following roadways have been identified by the PLUS Steering Committee and the Technical Advisory Group as potential mobility corridors:

  • Interstate 25
  • US 287, College Avenue, Lincoln Avenue
  • US 34, Eisenhower Boulevard
  • State Highway 1
  • State Highway 14, Mulberry Street
  • State Highway 56
  • State Highway 392, County Road 32

5.3 Guiding Principles And Implementation Strategies for Transportation

In the section below, each primary paragraph (in bold type) is a statement of principle. The subparagraphs are strategies for implementing the principle.
TR-1 The Larimer County transportation planning process shall complement the development patterns and principles of the Master Plan.  

TR-1-s1 The Functional Road Classification Map shall be used as the official future roadway plan for the County.  

TR-1-s2 The Land Use Code shall establish roadway standards that enhance capacity and safety, improve air quality and aesthetics and implement the development patterns of the Land Use Framework Map. 

TR-1-s3 County road projects shall be designed and constructed in a manner that minimizes the impact on water quality and sensitive environmental areas and considers aesthetics. 

TR-2 New development shall occur only where existing transportation facilities are adequate or where necessary improvements will be made as part of the development project. 

TR-2-s1 Adequate facilities and service levels for transportation shall be clearly defined in the Land Use Code. In Growth Management Areas, service level standards shall reflect those of the adjacent municipality. In other areas, standards shall be based on the density and intensity of the use.  

TR-2-s2 The Land Use Code shall establish traffic impact requirements to identify the need for improvements created by future development in order to meet adopted level of service standards. 

TR-3 New development shall pay its equitable share for necessary improvements to the County transportation system. 

TR-3-s1 The Land Use Code shall require construction of improvements identified through a traffic impact study.  

TR-3-s2 The Land Use Code shall include a traffic improvement fee to support other future improvements to the County transportation system made necessary by the impact of the development, including cumulative impacts.  

TR-3-s3 The Land Use Code shall establish a mechanism to allow a party who initially funds an improvement to be reimbursed by future developments that also impact that facility. 

TR-4 Larimer County shall encourage the development and use of alternative modes of transportation. 

TR-4-s1 Larimer County will continue to participate in cooperative efforts with cities and counties in the region to develop a preferred transit system within Growth Management Areas and between cities and towns, consistent with the adopted Transit Development Plan. 

TR-4-s2 Larimer County shall establish a bicycle plan that recognizes the need to serve both commuters and recreational users and that coordinates with the plans of adjoining cities and counties.  

TR-4-s3 Larimer County shall support the regional Travel Demand Management (TDM) program by encouraging all major employers to adopt a TDM program and by adopting incentives for promoting use of alternative modes of transportation and for implementing telecommuting programs. 

TR-4-s4 Larimer County shall continue to support the study and development of commuter rail service in the Northern Front Range. 

TR-5 Larimer County shall establish a Capital Improvement Program for County transportation facilities. 

TR-5-s1 The Capital Improvement Program shall identify a methodology for prioritizing projects which emphasizes the importance of maintaining the existing roadway system. 

TR-5-s2 The Capital Improvement Plan for roadway maintenance and improvement shall consider consistency with the Master Plan as an element of project prioritization.  

TR-5-s3 The Capital Improvement Program shall identify methods to share costs with adjacent cities and other governmental entities. 

TR-5-s4 The Capital Improvement Program shall consider funding for alternative transportation mode projects including facilities for bicycles and transit. 

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