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Aurora family fed up with cars crashing into backyard

Carmen Rodriguez and her neighbors are asking the city and CDOT to do something about the problem.

AURORA, Colo. — Carmen Rodriguez has lost count of the car crashes at the corner of Havana Street and East Fourth Way, but she knows she's had to replace the fence surrounding her family's home multiple times.

"Everything you see looks different because of the crashes that have happened," Rodriguez said in Spanish, pointing to the fence patched up with different shades of wood. 

For years, Rodriguez and her family have dealt with cars careening off Havana Street and crashing into the backyard. They've even caught some of them on their home security camera.

"We don't want to see someone killed," Rodriguez said.

In early February, a car crashed through the family's fence and into the back of the brick home. It punctured a hole in the house and the room where Rodriguez's daughter sleeps.

"I want the city to do something, like a wall or a barrier or something," Rodriguez said.

On Monday evening, Rodriguez planned to plead her case before Aurora City Council, as one of her neighbors did on Oct. 10.

"Cars have damaged our properties," Gladys Lewis told city councilmembers during public comment. "Most of the accidents are cars crashing through our privacy fences and coming to rest in our backyards."

Lewis said she and her fellow neighbors had worked with councilmembers and the Colorado Department of Transportation, but their efforts had "not resulted in any significant solutions to the traffic dangers that we are facing."

Lewis said neighbors initially contacted the City of Aurora, but the city passed them along to CDOT, who directed them to the city.

"We're requesting decision-makers with the City of Aurora and CDOT help us to resolve this situation by installing a wall, a guardrail, before one of our children, grandchildren or elderly parents or a pet gets killed," Lewis said.

"I am asking as a favor that we are heard, not ignored," Rodriguez said, reading a section from her prepared remarks to city council. "Listen to us, please."

A spokesperson for the City of Aurora said they have been working closely with CDOT over the past couple of years to evaluate the area for "safety improvements."

A traffic signal is planned as part of a construction project on the west side of Havana, the spokesperson said, but the exact timeline of its installation is unknown.

Councilmember Ruben Medina represents the area. He said he's been pushing the city and CDOT to consider solutions proposed by residents, like a sound barrier wall or guardrail.

"I will continue to ask the city for a solution that is visible and tangible," Medina said. "I am proud [residents] are voicing their concerns."

Rodriguez is frustrated and tired of repairing her fence. She knows she can't build anything to stop the cars from crashing, so she hopes someone listens to her words.

"It's like they're ignoring us, and we're people," Rodriguez said. "We're human. We don't want someone to die."

The City of Aurora provided the following statement: 

The city of Aurora and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) staff have been working very closely together to evaluate this location for safety improvements over the last two years. Staff from both agencies take residents’ safety concerns very seriously and have met on several occasions and thoroughly reviewed crash data. We have explored numerous ideas to improve safety, and staff have implemented multiple safety improvements as appropriate.

City and CDOT staff also held a joint public meeting in June 2022 which was attended by an Aurora City Councilmember Ruben Medina, city of Aurora Staff, CDOT staff, and neighborhood attendees who wanted to have their concerns heard. We discussed numerous questions, concerns and suggested actions with the affected residents. The main request heard at that time was for installation of physical barriers to obstruct errant vehicles from leaving the roadway.

Aurora's and CDOT's decisions regarding introduction of fixed objects adjacent to roadways need to be in the best interest of the traveling public as well as those adjacent to the roadway. When considering such requests, crash patterns are evaluated as well as ability to install appropriate measures in a way to mitigate identified patterns. Police reports and information submitted by constituents are used to quantify crash frequency and patterns.

It should also be noted that this intersection is planned for signalization in the next couple of years as part of an adjacent development which is being constructed on the west side of this intersection. A traffic signal will change the characteristics of the intersection and further enhance visibility of the roadway geometry. The exact timeline for the signal is unknown since the project is development-driven.

Havana Street is one of the most vital roadways in Aurora, connecting corridor residents to the surrounding community and other major transportation corridors in the city and region. The city conducted the Havana Street Corridor Study to create a vision and plan for better safety and mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists, recognizing the needs of Aurora's residents, businesses, visitors and traveling public. We are currently implementing best practices from the results of the study and we appreciate everyone’s patience in our ongoing efforts to improve the corridor.

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