Lone Tree public works director talks about city's future

5 questions with Justin Schmitz

Posted 1/8/19

Justin Schmitz will serve as the newest director of public works for Lone Tree, following in the footsteps of John Cotten, who served the city for more than 20 years and will retire in February. Schmitz, a …

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Lone Tree public works director talks about city's future

5 questions with Justin Schmitz

Posted

Justin Schmitz will serve as the newest director of public works for Lone Tree, following in the footsteps of John Cotten, who served the city for more than 20 years and will retire in February.

Schmitz, a Colorado native, joined the city in November after serving as city traffic engineer for the City and County of Denver, according to a press release sent Dec. 31.

“Lone Tree is a growing, thriving city that provides a good balance between urban and suburban contexts,” Schmitz said in the release. “I believe it's going to be a leader in new technology and city building, and I'm excited to be a part of its future.”

Schmitz has begun leading major projects, such as the RidgeGate Parkway widening project, which is scheduled to start construction in 2019, and the installation of the adaptive signal technology for traffic signals along Yosemite Street.

The Lone Tree Voice interviewed Schmitz about his goals and vision for the city's transportation needs down the road:

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in Castle Rock and went to Douglas County High School. From there, I went to Colorado State University and graduated with a civil engineering degree up there. I spent a few years working for Los Angeles County public works. Then, various roles with the City and County of Denver, most recently working as the city traffic engineer. We helped design and implement a lot of the bike lanes and bikeway projects for Denver.

What about Lone Tree made you excited for the job?

I live in Centennial and I grew up around here. A lot of the excitement of things happening in the south metro area is really what attracted me. There's a lot of great businesses moving in, there's a lot of families — there's just a lot of great community in Lone Tree and in South Metro. Lone Tree has a chance to be a leader in what happens in the future of South Metro, and I'm excited to be part of that.

What are some goals you have in mind as you start out?

We're going to continue to find new technology and new systems and continue to work with our partners. Transportation doesn't always end at the city borders. It requires interaction with the county, with Centennial and Greenwood Village to the north, trying to build relationships and continue to get a smart transportation system built and moving forward.

We're also going to be continuing to use our public transit systems. The Lone Tree Link is going to relaunch with an on-demand service that I'm pretty excited about. The other goal is continue to make it as safe of a transportation system as possible for all of our users.

What do you think are the biggest challenges the city faces, and what are you most excited about addressing?

Lone Tree, very similar to this whole region of metro Denver, it's the amount of growth. There's a lot of benefits to that, obviously, but it does have certain challenges. We get more people on the roads, people using our systems, making sure that we can get them to and from places safely is really what we're going to be doing.

How do you envision the needs of the city changing down the road as Lone Tree continues to evolve?

There are some really exciting capital projects coming down the pipeline. The RidgeGate Parkway expansion, that's really exciting for everyone in the region. People come from Parker, people come from all over who are using that roadway, as well as people using Lincoln (Avenue). The improvements we make along RidgeGate are going to help people using Lincoln as well.

As we continue to see all that growth, and continue to build out that east side, we're finding opportunities to work with those developers to maximize those options people have. Having those three new light rail stations opening this year … That's a huge amenity that not many cities have. As we move forward, that's something our transportation is going to be built around.

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