New Castle, RFTA ask CDOT to lower speed limit by 15 mph near town’s park & ride

New Castle's RFTA Park and Ride.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The town of New Castle and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority are requesting that state highway officials lower the the speed limit on U.S. 6 & 24 near the town’s park-and-ride lot.

The RFTA board agreed at its monthly meeting Thursday to pen a joint letter with the town to the Colorado Department of Transportation seeking the change.

Currently, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour on that section of Highway 6 & 24 where passengers hop on and off of RFTA buses at the east end of New Castle.

“The best case scenario would be to make [the speed limit] consistent with downtown ,at 30 miles per hour,” New Castle Mayor Art Riddile said.

Located at 774 Burning Mountain Drive, the New Castle park-and-ride lot opened in 2016. Since then, it has seen a noticeable increase in cars and subsequent bus ridership.

The bus stop services riders heading east toward Glenwood Springs and Aspen 10 times a day, and those traveling west eight times a day, with departure times beginning at 5:47 a.m. and running until 8:42 p.m.

“There’s more going on down there,” RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said of the increased pedestrian activity.

Additionally, with last year’s passage of RFTA’s 2.65-mill property tax question, new service increases will go into effect in December.

“Then, more people are going to start to use it and there are going to be more crossings from the bus stop that is just below the McDonalds, to the park and ride lot in the evenings,” Blankenship said.

Riddile and Blankenship will likely pen the joint letter within the next week or two before sending it to CDOT’s Region 3 officials.

Being that the bus stop resides on a state-maintained highway, CDOT would ultimately dictate whether to reduce the speed limit.

“CDOT is very responsive, and Region 3 is great to work with,” Blankenship said.

CDOT’s Region 3 includes several Western Colorado counties spanning from Moffat to Hinsdale. Given the region’s size, exactly when CDOT would respond to the joint letter from RFTA and the town will be a matter of prioritization.

“They have a huge region and a lot going on. They will have to look at this and see what kind of a priority is it,” Blankenship said.

According to Blankenship, CDOT may reduce the speed limit as a simple matter, but also may elect to conduct a traffic study to see if the speed reduction was in fact warranted.

Riddile said that the joint letter was not in response to any recent accident occurring at or near the park-and-ride, but rather a precautionary safety measure, particularly with the increased pedestrian and bicycle activity surrounding it.

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