A terrible tragedy occurred in the early hours of Saturday, September 8 when three teenagers were killed at the intersection of W. 62nd Avenue and Ward Road in Arvada. Many people have questioned whether this tragedy could have been avoided had a traffic signal been in place at the intersection. We cannot be sure a signal would have prevented this tragedy, but given that the accident occurred after midnight with almost no traffic on the road and the driver either did not see or ignored the stop sign, this incident could have happened at any intersection, whether or not a signal was warranted.
The placement of signals and traffic signs and the setting of speed limits is guided by detailed policy that has been developed based on decades of experience across the nation. Many factors are considered when evaluating an intersection for the possible installation of a signal, including traffic volume, line of sight, and travel speeds to name a few. Because Ward Road is a State Highway (SH 72), it is under the authority of the Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT has determined that its intersection with 62nd Avenue does meet their criteria (or warrants) for a traffic signal. However, because of competing needs across the State, this intersection has not ranked high enough to have funds budgeted for the construction of a traffic signal. Similarly, the City of Arvada conducts analyses of City-maintained intersections on an annual basis. At any given time there may be a number of intersections that meet warrants for a traffic signal. Both CDOT and the City of Arvada must prioritize the placement of signals due to the simple fact that traffic signals are extraordinarily expensive. On average, a signal for a four-way intersection costs $250,000.
Because the intersection of 62nd and Ward is under CDOT's jurisdiction, it is up to CDOT to determine whether the intersection merits the placement of a traffic signal based on their prioritization of intersections throughout the State of Colorado. If CDOT makes the decision to install a signal, the City of Arvada will work with CDOT on placement and right-of-way. The cost of installation, however, is CDOT's to bear.
City of Arvada traffic engineers will be meeting with CDOT engineers to review and better understand the causes of the accident and options that might mitigate or correct any future accidents in this area.