Stuck at the light on Hover in north Longmont? Enjoy the eastside landscaping

Dear Johnnie: I noticed the city is repairing the concrete curbs, gutters and street on Hover between 17th Avenue and Belmont. When is the city going to have the landscaping on the west side of Hover look as nice as the east side between 17th and Belmont?
Also, I have contacted the city twice in the past couple of years about the signal light at 15th and Hover not being in sync with the signals at 17th Avenue and Mountain View Avenue. To date, nothing has been done about it. It is a little bit frustrating to just get up to speed after leaving 17th and Hover southbound or Mountain View and Hover northbound and have to stop at 15th and Hover. Can something be done? — Observant Citizen

Dear Observant Citizen: You can take another route. Seriously.

I emailed your second question to traffic engineer Bob Ball. “I don’t recall specific

North of 15th Avenue, dirt and weeds dominate the landscape along the west side of Hover Street.

complaints about this,” he replied, “but I’m not surprised if it happens. The spacing of traffic signals for 40 mph speed limit should be about one-half mile to maintain decent two-way progression of traffic through these signals. 15th Avenue is about one-quarter mile from Mountain View and 17th, so it’s really not possible to provide good two-way progression along this stretch of Hover.”

But, I asked, wouldn’t it help if the cross-traffic signal at 15th were severely limited, so as to be less of a problem for traffic on Hover?

“The short answer to your question is that a shorter side-street green time might help a little,” Ball said, “but it will not eliminate a stop for Hover traffic in at least one direction.”

I’ll try to explain in Q&A columnist terms.

If the stretch of Hover from Mountain View to 17th were one-way, the nonstop traffic flow you are looking for would be much easier, because the traffic lights would have to be in

On the east side of Hover, however, is grass, flowers and trees. Photo taken Wednesday, July 20, 2011.

sync going only one direction — Mountain View go, then 15th go, then 17th go. Side-street traffic could be released after the main group of cars has passed each intersection.

But, as Ball noted, the physics don’t work when trying to accomplish this in two directions.

If the lights at 17th and at Mountain View turned green simultaneously, groups of automobiles from both directions could arrive at 15th as it is turning green, allowing all to pass the intersection unimpeded. However, with the spacing of these signals, having green lights waiting for the drivers at Mountain View and at 17th would be just about impossible. To do so would mean one of two things:

Either the lights at 17th and at Mountain View would remain green the entire time, meaning that traffic on Mountain View, 15th and 17th would have to wait for an excessively long time while packs of northbound and southbound vehicles clear the half mile stretch; or the signal timing at each of these signals would be significantly shortened so that all side-street traffic and left-turn-only traffic could not be adequately served before the pack arrives.

In either case, there would be significant traffic backups at these intersections, especially for side-street traffic and turning traffic.

I hope I explained this clearly.

As to the landscaping, there’s hope. “This section of Hover is identified in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2013,” Public Works’ natural resources manager, Kim Shugar, wrote to Johnnie. “Funding for the project will be considered during the development of the 2013 budget. The project will improve landscaping.”

In the meantime, Shugar said, city staff will monitor the site and mow and spray as needed. Recently, the weeds were sprayed, which explains what you see in the photo. Additionally, the site is scheduled to be seeded in the fall.

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