Railroad, Wadsworth Grade Separation Project Begins

The long-awaited separation of Wadsworth Bypass from the railroad tracks and Grandview Avenue commenced at 10:30 a.m. this morning.

Vintage automobiles representing every decade since the 1910s carried dignitaries including Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Executive Director Tom Norton and members of the Arvada City Council across Wadsworth Bypass on Grandview Avenue, marking a ceremonial “last turning of the traffic signal” at that intersection. When the vehicles had crossed, traffic engineers “darkened” the signal; Wadsworth Bypass will no longer be accessible from Grandview Avenue as a result of the grade separation project.

“This is a momentous day, not only for Arvada but for the northwest metropolitan area,” stated Arvada Mayor Ken Fellman at the ceremony. “This project is going to make a huge and positive impact on transportation. With an average of five trains per day, creating as much as a 20-minute traffic delay each time, this at-grade crossing is not only inconvenient, it’s a public safety nightmare waiting to happen.”

Once completed, the project will alleviate the traffic problems that occur every time a train crosses at Wadsworth Bypass. The project will lower Wadsworth Bypass by nearly 25 feet, creating a bridge overhead for the railroad tracks and also a bridge for Grandview Avenue. In addition to accommodating the Burlington Northern tracks and Grandview Avenue, the project will also create a pedestrian plaza on the north side of Grandview Avenue and will be designed to allow for the future FasTracks light rail project.

"Before I was even sworn in as a Member of Congress, I met with the City leaders in Arvada to find out what I could do to help them at the Federal level. They told me funding for the Grandview grade separation,” said Congressman Bob Beauprez. “So I am enormously pleased to see this day finally come. Not only will this make traffic run more smoothly, public safety will be greatly enhanced as well.”

Construction, expected to last approximately 18 months, is under CDOT’s jurisdiction. CDOT and Arvada have worked together closely over the past several years to complete project studies and design work and ensure that the needs of the Arvada community are met. The current estimated cost of the project, including design, property acquisition, and construction, is approximately $30 million. Funding has been secured from a number of sources, including $19 million in Federal and State formula funds, $6 million from Arvada, and $5.7 million in Federal earmarks.

“We're very pleased to see this project finally begin. It's been difficult to fully fund this project but ultimately it’s the partnership between the federal, state, and local government that brought this project to fruition,” said CDOT Executive Director Tom Norton. “We especially want to acknowledge the efforts of Congressman Bob Beauprez who secured $5.7 million for the project, nearly one-third of the total cost of construction.”

During Construction

During construction, traffic on the Wadsworth Bypass will be temporarily detoured to a new roadway that will be built along the west side of the existing road. The detour will maintain three lanes of traffic in both directions, but access to Wadsworth Bypass from Grandview Avenue will be permanently closed at the start of the project. Delays may occur so alternate routes may be advised. The final project with all landscape and architectural enhancements is expected to be completed by August 2008.

Project History

In the early 1900s, an interurban trolley line serving the Leyden mine area was built where Wadsworth Bypass exists today. In fact, the line was grade separated from the rail line that existed along what is today the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe track. The 1902 photograph attached to this press release shows the first cut being constructed.

In the 1950s, the Colorado State Highway Department built Wadsworth Bypass and filled in the cut for the new roadway. Over time, however, the volume of traffic on Wadsworth has increased dramatically. The impact of an at-grade railroad crossing at this location has become unacceptable. An average of five trains per day cross Wadsworth Bypass—several during peak traffic periods—stopping traffic for eight to ten minutes, with a traffic “recovery” period lasting as long as 20 minutes. Given that over 50,000 vehicles travel through the area each day, it is estimated that a total of 40 hours of vehicle delay occurs with each train passage, or 24,100 vehicle delay hours annually.

Participating Vehicles at ‘Groundbreaking Ceremony':

1914 Model T Roadster: Don Whissen
1923 Ford Model T touring car: Dana and Rick Holdaway
1939 Ford Tu-Dor standard: Craig Kocian
1940 Ford Deluxe Tu-Dor sedan: Keith Lemons
1952 Chevy Pickup: Daryl Saccomano
1965 Mustang Convertible: Bryan Archer
1970 Chevy Camaro: Adam Quintana
1982 Corvette: John Harper
1995 Hummer: Dave Breggin of BlueHummer Outfitters
2003 Mustang Convertible: Arvada City Councilmember Lorraine Anderson