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Archive of posts filed under the Infrastructure category.

Fastracks Progress: Overhead Catenary System at Denver Union Station

Since I was a kid, overhead wires have always made my infrastructure senses tingle. This all makes sense because I grew up very close to these wonderful pylons running right down East Jewell Avenue in Aurora.


Source: Google Street View

Some, like myself, don’t mind seeing overhead wires, whereas others aren’t so fond of the visual clutter. But, enough about your friendly DenverUrbanism contributor’s personal childhood and opinions. Denver’s new visual infrastructure comes right to Downtown’s backyard: Union Station.  Let’s take a look at what’s going on under the commuter rail canopy!

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Installation of the overhead catenary system under the canopy has commenced, adding the last piece to making this beautiful station fully operational.

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Can you imagine how great this view will look with the new commuter rail trains running through it next year?


The real exciting visual, however, is just north of the canopy. These large, overhead catenary wires mean serious business and will serve three commuter rail lines pulling into Union Station!

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This post might seem silly and filled with my likings towards overhead wire systems but remember, without these systems in place, our commuter rail system would cease to exist.


Could Brighton Boulevard Become a Pedestrian Paradise?

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

WalkDenver is excited to participate in a working group that is advising the City of Denver on the design of Brighton Boulevard from 29th Street to 44th Street. Last April, the City released a plan [pdf] outlining a bold vision for transforming Brighton Boulevard into an engaging, connected, multimodal gateway. In November, City Council approved a 2015 budget that allocates $26 million for improvements along the corridor, which currently serves more as a “back door” into downtown. This funding will go a long way toward making the City’s vision a reality, and presents a unique opportunity to create a true multimodal street that sets a precedent for similar projects in the future. Redesigning Brighton Boulevard won’t be easy, however, and the proverbial devil is in the details.

Today, Brighton Boulevard is a harrowing place for pedestrians and bicyclists, which is to say, people. Most of the corridor has no sidewalks, no curb and gutter, no bicycle facilities, no streetscaping, and no tree canopy. The intrepid person who attempts to walk or bike to one of the enticing new developments or adaptive reuse projects along the Boulevard, such as The Source or Industry, is likely to encounter dirt and gravel, standing water (if it’s rained recently), cars parked willy-nilly on the shoulder of the roadway, and traffic flowing freely in and out of adjacent properties, without any clear driveways. On the bright side (pun intended), this almost complete lack of infrastructure means the Boulevard, in some sense, is a blank canvas on which the City can paint a new vision. Will the City seize this opportunity and transform Brighton into a true pedestrian paradise?


Existing Brighton Boulevard streetscape. Photo credit: City & County of Denver

The City’s plan clearly states the redesigned roadway must accommodate all modes of travel—walking, biking, transit, and driving—as well as a tree lawn and “amenity zone” with public art and other streetscaping that creates “a consistent character and attractive gateway to downtown.” The challenge is fitting all of these elements within the available right-of-way, particularly when the City envisions that Brighton will remain “an important vehicular connector” and, therefore, must continue to have four, 11-foot-wide lanes. So, the working group is rolling up its sleeves and digging into the trade-offs associated with restricting left turns versus providing protected turn lanes, on-street bike lanes versus raised cycle tracks, continuous versus intermittent on-street parking, etc.


Potential Brighton Boulevard streetscape. Photo credit: City & County of Denver

Here are a few of the issues that WalkDenver is particularly interested in:

  • Safely separating pedestrian and bicycle facilities, to minimize potential conflict
  • Ensuring a robust tree canopy and quality landscaping (rather than planting trees that are doomed to die due to inadequate access to water, air, or room to grow)
  • Innovative storm water collection facilities that capture moisture, support vegetation and create a “pedestrian-friendly micro-climate”
  • Enhancing safety and convenience for pedestrians crossing Brighton Boulevard, including minimizing the distance people must walk across the street and between safe crossings
  • Minimizing the impact of driveways (property access points) on continuity of sidewalks and pedestrian safety
  • Providing pedestrian-oriented wayfinding, particularly to the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks at 35th, the bridge over the Platte River at 31st, and the access point to the Platte River Trail at 29th
  • Street design that allows for outdoor cafes and a pedestrian-friendly streetscape
In addition to seeking guidance from the working group, the City will be hosting public meetings in the coming months to present and gather feedback on design concepts. Stay tuned for more information!


The Bike Hub at Denver Union Station – Coming Fall 2015

by Peter Bird

As Denver continues to expand its bicycle infrastructure (protected lanes, bike parking, and bicycle-specific signage, to name a few), the city recognized the additional need for a major bicycle facility to serve Downtown bike commuters. With a planned opening in the fall of 2015, The Bike Hub at Union Station will soon become the center of bike commuting in downtown Denver. The creation of the Bike Hub was led by the City of Denver, the Union Station Neighborhood Company, and BikeDenver. All images in this post are courtesy of The Bike Hub.


Adjacent to Denver Union Station and the 16th Street Mall, the Bike Hub will serve as a nexus for the city’s burgeoning bike culture. From the Bike Hub, bikers will be able to easily access downtown bike lanes, the Cherry Creek bike path, and the Platte River Greenway. In addition, riders parking their bike in the Bike Hub will have immediate access to all the shopping, entertainment and cultural activities downtown—no need to drive or worry about locking their bike up on the street.


The Bike Hub Facility Details

The Bike Hub was modeled after successful facilities across the country, but also made to be uniquely “Denver,” capitalizing on the city’s current bike-centric attitude, the rise in percentage of residents who bike to work, as well as the multi-modal nature of Union Station.

The Bike Hub will be the centerpiece of an open-air public plaza featuring bike sharing, outdoor seating, and retail. This area will also include outdoor bike parking and rentals, as well as repair stands for professional repair and do-it-yourself repair stands for member use.

Riders will be able to choose between annual, monthly, or daily memberships; and they will access the secure building with a keycard. Inside the 2,800 square-foot building, members will find 160 enclosed bike parking spaces, as well as men’s and women’s showers and changing room facilities.


The Future of Biking in Denver

Denver deserves a bicycle facility worthy of its impressive, yet still growing, bicycle culture. And it’s going to get it with The Bike Hub at Union Station. With the downtown bike commuting mode share approaching seven percent, and the number of people commuting by bike more than doubling since 2007 (now almost 10,000 people every day!), a dedicated bike facility is well deserved.

The Hub’s construction sends a clear message that the city recognizes the importance of biking for its future growth. And once completed, the Hub will serve the needs of those who already bike to work—or just downtown—and it will also encourage more people to bike into the city.


Peter Bird grew up around the country and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, moved abroad, living in Hungary and Estonia. It was there that he first developed a love for cities and the transportation patterns within them. He currently works for BikeDenver and is also pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a special interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation planning.

Crowdfunding a New Protected Bike Lane on Arapahoe Street

By Peter Bird

At the Downtown Denver Partnership’s October Member Forum, the DDP announced an exciting new project on Arapahoe Street. Following a few temporary projects on that street—and supporting the larger Denver Moves Plan—they will be implementing a permanent protected bike lane.

Here is an image of the prospective bike lane provided by Alta Planning + Design:

Proposed protected bike lane on Arapahoe Street

The lane will extend along Arapahoe from Broadway to Speer, and will serve as a vital bicycle avenue through downtown—and through a thriving business district. However, the most novel aspect of this project is not necessarily its design or planning, but its funding structure. The DDP already secured $85,000 from the Gates Family Foundation as well as $35,000 from the business community, but they have also initiated a crowdfunding campaign to cover the remaining $35,000 needed for the lane’s construction.

This crowdfunding structure for a large-scale public infrastructure project is the first of its kind here in Denver. It was originally inspired by a similar project in Memphis, TN that was very successful. Aside from the structure’s usefulness as an alternative revenue stream, its grassroots nature allows for a level of public involvement and ownership not typically available.

Many downtown businesses have already expressed strong interest in the proposed bike lane—evidenced by the initial $35,000 raised by the greater business community. The crowdfunding campaign is available here and will be open to contributions until December 12.

Aylene McCallum, Senior Manager of Transportation & Research at the Downtown Denver Partnership, commented that this structure will allow business owners as well as individuals to show the city that they want these resources. Planners often tout the phrase, “if we build it, they will come,” referring to such infrastructure projects. But this project’s crowdfunding structure turns that idea on its head. It puts the power into the hands of individuals and businesses, and says, “if we come together, they will build it.”

More and more, we’re experiencing the positive effects of protected bike lanes on cities and neighborhoods. They encourage healthy behaviors, mitigate pollution and congestion, and promote vibrant business communities, among other things. And this crowdfunding structure, if successful, will send a clear message to key decision makers: We want more urban bike infrastructure!


Peter Bird grew up around the country and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, moved abroad, living in Hungary and Estonia. It was there that he first developed a love for cities and the transportation patterns within them. He currently works for BikeDenver and is also pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a special interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation planning.

Two-Way Conversion of 18th Street in LoDo Opens

This past Sunday, November 2, Denver Public Works completed the conversion of 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake Street in Lower Downtown to a two-way street.

The conversion of these two blocks from one-way to two-way traffic is an important step in helping make Lower Downtown into an even more pedestrian-friendly district. One-way streets exist primarily as a way of maximizing the movement of vehicles through an area, but they also force people to have to drive farther to get where they are going and they also encourage people to drive at faster speeds. One-way streets certainly have their place in the city, but speeding vehicles pose a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists; consequently, one-way streets are not desired in pedestrian-focused areas like around Denver Union Station. As evidence, simply compare your experience as a pedestrian along slower-speed, two-way Wynkoop Street versus the faster-speed, one-way Blake Street.

The 2000 Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan identified 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake as one of several one-way streets in LoDo to be converted to two-way. Others included Wazee Street between 15th and 20th, converted a few years ago, which has greatly improved Wazee as a pedestrian-friendly street.

Here are a few photo (courtesy Ryan Dravitz) of the newly-converted 18th Street on Sunday afternoon shortly after the conversion work was complete:

View from Wynkoop looking southeast toward Downtown:


View from Blake looking northwest toward the Union Station area:


View from Wynkoop Plaza of the 18th and Wynkoop intersection:


Overview of the two-blocks of 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake with the integrated bicycle lane and MetroRide station.


Space provided for pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and transit—a nice multi-modal street!