While still mourning the loss of her cyclist husband after he was struck and killed while riding on West 32nd Avenue at the foot of South Table Mountain near Golden, Sharon Moghadamnia said if “anything good could come out of this,” it would be safety improvements to the narrow section of road where the accident occurred.
It took 15 years, but that two-lane road from McIntyre Street to the Coors brewery is finally being widened, something Bike Jeffco and other Front Range cyclists have been advocating since before Shahram Moghadamnia was killed while on a 50-mile ride in April of 2008.
West 32nd is a popular route favored by Denver cyclists bound for Lookout Mountain and other destinations in and along the foothills, but the section where Moghadamnia was killed had little or no bike lane. Other dangers included multiple blind turns, dips, rises, shadows cast by tall cottonwoods and heavy truck traffic to and from the enormous Molson Coors plant.
A ghost bike still stands in memorial to Moghadamnia, who was 53 and the father of two teenagers when he died. He was an engineer at Coors who liked to ride up Lookout Mountain on his lunch breaks.
“If there is any way through this tragedy that we can make West 32nd Avenue a safer place through those tight turns, Shahram would be all in favor,” his wife said two weeks after his death.
Last week, she marked the 15th anniversary of his passing. Informed this week that the road finally is being widened to include four-foot paved shoulders, Moghadamnia was thrilled.
“I had no idea it was finally happening,” Moghadamnia said. “Oh my gosh. I’m so excited, it’s really good news. It was a long time coming, and I’m delighted to hear that. Bike Jeffco, I can’t even imagine what their feelings and thoughts and reactions are.”
Mike Raber, a spokesman for Bike Jeffco, said improving that section of roadway has long been one of the group’s “critical” advocacy objectives.
“We’ve been working on this probably since 2002, 2005,” Raber said. “We’ve always had that as one of the top priority projects.”
Jeffco says the project is about 80% complete, with the finishing touches expected in June.
Andy Kerr, a Jefferson County commissioner, called it “very overdue.” Kerr is a former state legislator, an avid cyclist and a member of the Bicycle Colorado board of directors.
“Even before I ever rode it on a bike, I drove it in a car, and I’ve driven it when cyclists are using it,” Kerr said. “It has been an intimidating place to get through, whether you’re in a car or on a bike. There’s not a lot of space there for different vehicles to get through safely, but hopefully with all of the work that’s going into it, it will be more welcoming and safer for cyclists to use.”
The fix wasn’t as simple as adding a few extra feet of asphalt on the edges of the road. There is a steep hillside on the south side of the road and an irrigation ditch in places on the north side, so the roadbed needed to be built out in spots.
“There are so many places where you can put down extra asphalt on the shoulder to widen a road,” Kerr said. “You couldn’t do that there. It was much more involved.”
According to a post on the Jefferson County website:
“The project includes modification of West 32nd Avenue to a standard roadway template with the installation of four-foot paved shoulders, mill and overlay of the roadway surface, and restriping of the travel lanes. Construction will also involve necessary work for the paved shoulder widening which includes clearing and grubbing (removing vegetation and pulling roots), removal of necessary trees along the north side of the roadway for grading activities, realignment of portions of the existing irrigation ditch, and installation of retaining walls and guardrail.”
A section of the road currently under construction is limited to one lane with alternating travel controlled by traffic signals and flaggers.
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