Lafayette last week installed a set of traffic signals at the U.S. 287 and Lucerne Drive intersection, ahead of the eventual build-out of the city‘s new commercial development, Lafayette Promenade.
It‘s the latest salvo in the city‘s ongoing border dispute with neighboring Erie, which earlier this year requested the Colorado Department of Transportation revoke Lafayette‘s ability to erect the traffic signals, as part of an appeal for its own access permit at the Nine Mile Corner development.
CDOT denied Erie‘s access last fall for several reasons, though officials at the time said it was due most notably to its proximity to the intersection already approved for the Lafayette Promenade development just a few hundred feet south.
CDOT regulations surrounding traffic volume, flow and spacing between street lights along Colorado highways are a few of the reasons the two access permits would be unable to coexist, according to Tim Bilobran, a CDOT permit manager for the region in which the U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road intersection sits.
Erie‘s motion also includes a clause requesting that Lafayette‘s access permit for the Promenade development be revoked, according to legal filings obtained from the Office of Administrative Courts in Denver.
“Lafayette was issued a permit from CDOT for the traffic signal being installed at the intersection of Lucerne and Hwy 287,” Lafayette spokesman Debbie Wilmot wrote in an email Thursday. “The suit Erie has pending with CDOT does not affect our work at the Lafayette Promenade entrance.”
Lafayette City Administrator Gary Klaphake said in February, “We have the permit here to build the intersection. We also have the signed permit to actually put up the cross-arms — there are no more contingencies.”
Lafayette attorney Dave Willamson on Friday echoed a similar sentiment: “There‘s no reason to stop installing (the traffic signals), we have the permit.”
Efforts to reach multiple Erie officials for comment were unsuccessful.
However, records suggest that Erie is arguing that the denial was based on an “invalid amendment to the U.S. 287 Access Control Plan requested by the City of Lafayette,” Attorney Michelle Berger wrote on behalf of Erie to CDOT in August, “and for which Lafayette and the Department entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement on December 30, 2011, but which did not include the proper notice to, or involvement of, the town.”
In response to Erie‘s appeal, however, Lafayette has since hired a special legal counsel to give the city a “seat at the table” with the upcoming litigation, officials say. Lafayette officials hired John Putnam, a managing partner at the Denver-based law firm Kaplan Kirsch and Rockwell. Putnam‘s rate is $425 per hour.
It‘s unclear what will happen if Erie is successful in its appeal — a hearing is slated for later this summer. Williamson on Thursday said that it is CDOT‘s prerogative as to whatever it wants with the intersection, though it‘s unclear if there is any precedent to tear out existing traffic signals after they have been operational for several months.
Wilmot said the traffic signals likely will be operational in “a week or two.”
Lafayette and Erie still are mired in litigation over the latter‘s Nine Mile Corner project, the development at the focus of Lafayette‘s condemnation lawsuit filed in late 2016.
Oral arguments in Lafayette‘s appeal took place earlier this year; a decision has yet to be made.