WalMart Traffic – Nearly 20% More Vehicle Trips Than Today’s Volume on Colorado

Today I spent about 40 minutes driving from Cherry Creek to 8th and Colorado, then to Exposition and Colorado, then back to Cherry Creek.  Traffic was so thick (probably nearing peak levels) that I peeled off and cut through Hilltop on the way there, then Bonnie Brae on the way back – This  is one of the major concerns for  neighbors around the proposed Walmart ….

Did some more digging and see that according to 9news:

At Thursday’s public meeting, the topic was transportation.

Neighbors voiced concerns about the projected 14,000 vehicle trips per day the new Walmart would bring to already congested Colorado Boulevard.

Developers say that’s still a third of the traffic the old hospital brought in.

May very well be a third of the traffic, but the real question is – what is the difference in the traffic baseline when the hospital was operating vs. today’s 52 – 55k AADT???  And will the roadway on Colorado and surrounding neighborhoods support an additional 14,000 vehicles?  (Update: 70% of this goes to Colorado, rest goes to secondary and side streets) That is nearly a 20% increase in average annual daily trips over current levels (update: on Colorado).

What is the impact to the local economy and quality of life on lost productivity associated with the increase in traffic? Do worker spend 20 more minutes going to lunch each day?  Do moms spend 20 more minutes in the car with their screaming kids each day – or paying an extra 20 more minutes for a sitter? Do contractors spend 20 more minutes driving to a job site?

Today’s cost for me of a 40 minute trip, vs. 20 min. is $25.00 in lost hourly billing potential.

I have to make this type of trip maybe 10 times a year, so this cost me $250 – if today’s traffic is at all indicative of what it would look like with 25% more traffic, do I really want to pay $250 dollars more per year for the opportunity to save a few nickels and dimes on stuff from Walmart when I shop there??

Does the cost of the extra time spent in traffic, plus the additional sales tax I have to pay, plus the increased cost in highway maintenance from 25% more traffic, wipe out the savings on retail goods I might get at Walmart??

Does it make me want to avoid shopping there there in the first place??  Does it make me want to avoid going to lunch at H Burger or Heidi’s Deli, or taking my kids to Monkey Bizness?

I think that our city leaders should step back and take a look at the big picture here – are they being seduced by the shiny object of an increased sales tax base to help fill a temporary budget shortfall, when in reality the project as-designed, creates a long term net loss for the local economy and community??

Should the taxpayers really be asked to foot the T part of the TIF to enable this?

Note to readers – being in the real estate business, I am pro-development so I am not opposed to development at 8th and Colorado, BUT – given the critical infill location of the site and the stressed nature of Colorado Boulevard, I think it needs to be smart, well thought out development.  

At 9th and Colorado, my preference is for mixed use, town center type development here, with retail, residential and office uses, integrated with a long term transit solution for the Colorado Boulevard corridor.  

The threat of blight should be taken for what it is – a threat – not reality.  This site has been vacant for years – exercising patience by waiting a few more years for the right solution to become feasible vs. ruining this area for 50 years for a quick sales tax hit is the more prudent course in my opinion.