Skip to content

RTD A-Line Opening Countdown: TOMORROW!

It’s Thursday, and what a great Thursday it is! The ‘Train to the Plane’, ‘Denver’s Gateway to the World’, officially opens tomorrow! We couldn’t be more excited about this great accomplishment that RTD and the public/private partners achieved.

Today we will be focusing on two things: the Denver Airport station and the final details for this weekend. Let’s start with the Denver Airport Station. As you probably know, it is incredibly hard to access the station at Denver International Airport because of location, security, and the fact that it’s under construction with a single access point.

RTD has some great photos on their Flickr featuring this station; I recommend checking these out. Or, if you are in for a surprise, wait until tomorrow and see it for yourself. So what do I have to offer? When I was flying out in February, the plaza was open and I was able to get some night photos.

The Denver Airport Station features a brilliant glass canopy which you can look down on from above.

2016-04-20_DIA-05 2016-04-20_DIA-04

Once you get off the train and go up to the main level, you have two options: Enter the airport or hang out on the plaza where there will be various activities and events. The plaza is quite a spectacular sight in person, especially with the new hotel above.

2016-04-20_DIA-01 2016-04-20_DIA-02

That wraps up our countdown! Now for some final details.

This Weekend

Here is how this weekend is going to work:

Tomorrow, April 22nd – The grand opening ceremony will take place at the Denver Airport station at 10 am. After that, at 12 pm, the first trains will start running on normal 15 minute intervals. Rides will be free from 12-9 pm

Saturday, April 23rd – Free rides on RTD’s entire rail system will be offered from 5 am – 10 pm. There will be station parties at each of the stations along the A-Line for the public to enjoy from 10 am-2 pm.

This is a once in a lifetime event for Denver, so we hope to see you there!


RTD A-Line Opening Countdown: TWO DAYS!

It’s Wednesday which means only two days stand between us and the A-Line grand opening. We, here at DenverUrbanism, are so excited! Now that we’ve gone in depth about the technology and trains, let’s focus on the bookend stations; Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport. We have already covered the 38th and Blake and the Central Park Station in our previous posts and mentioned that all of the other stations in between will be nearly identical to these two, with the exception of Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport.

Today, we are going to highlight Denver Union Station. We have covered the commuter rail canopy so many times, but bear with me for just one more post since it is highly relevant to this line. The A-Line will be pulling into the first track, which will be closest to the historic station. This is great for quick connections to the bus terminal and Downtown Denver.

From shell to finished product, the commuter rail canopy is truly breathtaking; taking notes from Denver International Airport along with carrying its own identity.

2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-01 2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-07

As we know, this station will serve all of the commuter lines in the FasTracks system as well as Amtrak and private trains, such as the ski train when it comes back. The structural system is comprised of 11 steel arch trusses, which span 180 feet, and is clad in tensioned PTFE fabric. The fabric itself can handle up to 90 mile-per-hour winds and snow loads up to 30 pounds per square foot. The station cost a total of $15 million to design and build.

2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-04 2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-06

Day or night, this station glows white and has such a prominent presence in the Denver Union Station neighborhood. Designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, I would argue that this transit station is near the top of the list for best transit architecture in the country.

2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-5 2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-05

Even from the air, the station is completely stunning.

2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-02 2016-04-19_CommuterCanopy-03

Tomorrow we will be covering the Denver International Airport station and give you the final details of what’s going on this weekend. Stay tuned!


RTD A-Line Opening Countdown: THREE DAYS!

Now that we have climbed over that Monday wall, I am pleased to announce that there are only THREE days left until the A-Line, connecting the world to Downtown Denver, opens. Today we are going to look into the commuter trains that will be hauling passengers to and from Denver International Airport at a top speed of 79 miles per hour.

The Silverliner V looks and feels like a very classic heavy rail / subway train. These trains are large, silver, and mean serious business.

2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-6 2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-7

RTD purchased 66 of these cars, in the married pair configuration for $300 million. The trains were built in Korea, tested in Philadelphia, and then shipped to Denver. Philadelphia made a great candidate for testing because they use the same exact trains for SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). The first Silverliner V’s arrived in Denver on November 20th and initially had to be pulled into Denver Union Station for testing since the overhead catenary wire system was still under construction.

2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-5 2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-4

The 70 ton, 600 hp Silverliner V has been in full speed testing for months now and can be seen at regular 15-30 minute intervals along the line.

2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-1 2016-04-19_SilverlinerV-2

In three days, we will all be able to ride this brand new type of train, how incredibly exciting!


RTD A-Line Opening Countdown: FOUR DAYS!

There are only four days until the “Train to the Plane” line opens! This is an incredibly huge transit milestone for the Denver metro area, as we will finally have solid rail transit connecting Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport. For this countdown, we are going to be exploring some facts and figures about Denver’s best new rail line.

Today, we are going to settle the confusion of light rail and commuter rail. In many news outlets, reporters are referring to the new A-line as light rail. This is completely incorrect. So what exactly is the difference and what are the differences between the two systems in Denver?

Light rail is exactly what the name implies, light. They are designed to operate in crowded, narrow corridors, usually have narrowly spaced stops, have a capacity of around 155 passengers per trip, and top out at 55 miles per hour. The overhead catenary system is fairly lightweight, powering the trains with a direct current of 750 volts. Below are two photos showing the West Line light rail system.

2013-04-22_BikingWLine07 2013-04-22_BikingWLine11

Commuter rail is a heavy rail system. It is designed to get passengers and commuters to their destination faster. Commuter rail runs along open corridors, and doesn’t interact much with the street level. It’s like a freight line except for passengers. These trains are big. They have a capacity of around 170 passengers per trip, have fewer stops, and top out at 79 miles per hour. The overhead catenary system is serious business powering the trains with an alternating current of 25 kilovolts (kV). Below are two photos showing the new A-Line commuter rail system.

2016-02-21_38thBlake-02 2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-02

In summary, the commuter rail serves longer distances, in a shorter amount of time, with fewer stops while light rail covers shorter distances, is made for more urban spaces, and has more stops. I’m glad we settled that difference before April 22nd!


RiNo Infrastructure Part 4: River North Park

Let’s continue our look at the new infrastructure supporting the transformation of Denver’s River North area from a gritty industrial zone to a thriving mixed-use urban district. So far we’ve looked at RTD’s 38th & Blake Station followed by Part 1: 35th Street Pedestrian BridgePart 2: 38th Street Pedestrian Bridge, and Part 3: Brighton Boulevard Reconstruction. Today in Part 4, we’ll focus on River North Park. To get a better understanding for the vision of the proposed River North Park, I met with Jamie Licko, Executive Director of the River North Art District. Thank you Jamie for the information and insight!

Plans for a park in the River North (RiNo) area go back to the city’s 2003 River North Plan and the 2009 River North Gateway Master Plan. The best location for the new park was determined to be along the South Platte River at 35th Street and Arkins Court. Not only is this location geographically central to the RiNo district, but it also puts the park directly adjacent to the proposed 35th Street Woonerf that will link the planned RiNo Pedestrian Bridge with the almost-finished 35th Street Pedestrian Bridge, as well as the proposed River North Promenade and the planned Delgany Festival Street (more on the 35th Street Woonerf, the RiNo Pedestrian Bridge, the River North Promenade, and the Delgany Festival Street projects in future installments in this series).

Below is a Google Earth aerial with the future River North Park site outlined:

2016-04-17_rino-park-site-aerial

The southwestern two-thirds of the site was owned by Interstate Shippers, a trucking company, until 2011 when the city acquired the land for the future park. The northeastern one-third has been owned by the city since the 1990s and used as a Denver Police Department Vehicle Service Building.

Below are a bunch of existing conditions photos I took a couple of weekends ago.

Left: View looking northwest from the intersection of 35th and Delgany along 35th Street towards Arkins Court and the South Platte River, with the existing Police Service Building on the left. Right: View from the corner of 35th Street and Arkins Court looking south at the Police Service Building.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-1 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-2

Left: The river side of the Police Service Building from Arkins Court. Right: View looking northeast along Arkins Court, with the Police Service Building on the right.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-5 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-3

Left: View from approximately the same location as the photo on the right above but looking more north at the river and the TAXI development on the west bank. Right: The former Interstate Shippers Building as viewed from Arkins Court, with the Police Service Building beyond.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-8 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-4

Left: Looking southwest at the gap (vacated Delgany Street) between the new Great Divide Brewery Phase 1 building and the Police Service Building where the proposed Delgany Festival Street will go, with the Interstate Shippers Building beyond on the right. Right: Close-up of the Interstate Shippers Building from approximately the corner of 35th and Delgany.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-6 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-7

One final existing conditions image—a Google Earth bird’s-eye perspective that I’ve oriented to match the concept plan below:

2016-04-17_rino-park-site-birds-eye

OK let’s get to the plans for the River North Park! The following images are courtesy of Denver Parks and Recreation, the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, and Wenk Associates, the landscape architecture firm that designed the park.

The preferred concept plan for River North Park:

2016-04-17_rino-park-plan

There are a number of really exciting features in this plan! I think the most exciting is that neither of the buildings in the park will be demolished; rather, they will be partially deconstructed to create both indoor and outdoor community spaces.

The Police Service Building consists of three major components. The center section of the building will be removed except for its structural framework, which will be preserved to create a cool outdoor space, Maker’s Plaza (#12 on the plan), where kids and adults can play and get creative. On either side of the plaza, the two remaining building sections will be remodeled into community spaces for neighborhood events, retail, workshops, and other indoor activities. Large artistic signage would wrap portions of the 35th Street and Delgany Festival Street sides of the building:

2016-04-17_rino-park-polic-building-reuse

2016-04-17_rino-park-makers-plaza-1

2016-04-17_rino-park-makers-plaza-2

Similarly, the former Interstate Shippers Building will be partially deconstructed to create an outdoor pavilion area surrounded by the building’s skeletal supports while the remaining part the building would be used as community space:

2016-04-17_rino-park-trucking-building-reuse

2016-04-17_rino-park-trucking-reuse-2

2016-04-17_rino-park-trucking-reuse-1

Other neat elements of the park include a storm water garden, several large lawns, a community vegetable garden, groves of trees, children’s play areas, and direct river access (thanks to the replacement of Arkins Court with a promenade):

2016-04-17_rino-park-features-1

2016-04-17_rino-park-features-2

When looking at the Google Earth images and site photos above, it’s hard to imaging a beautiful park in this location. However, with everything that’s proposed or under construction around it—new streets and promenades and bridges and private-sector development on virtually every parcel—the transformation of this area will occur at a pace and with a level of coordination that is quite remarkable. If all goes as planned, construction on River North Park will begin in the spring of 2017 and be completed about a year later.

Next up in our RiNo Infrastructure series: Delgany Festival Street


Downtown’s Newest Public Space: Tivoli Quad

Did you know a new public space is coming to Downtown Denver? Yes indeed, on the Auraria Campus in front of the historic Tivoli Brewery/Student Union building, the Tivoli Quad is under construction!

The Tivoli Quad is a nearly 4-acre landscaped lawn and plaza area that will not only be the main outdoor gathering space for Auraria students, but a welcoming public place for downtown residents, workers, and visitors. The Quad will occupy approximately half of the large green space in front of the historic Tivoli where the Auraria athletic fields used to be. When MSU Denver opened their new athletic fields south of Colfax in 2015, that allowed for the construction of the Tivoli Quad and other improvements to move forward. The remaining green space to the east (closest to the CU Denver Commons Building) will be retained as a soccer field for CU Denver and, in the future, the site for additional academic buildings.

This first Google Earth aerial image from October 2014 shows the athletic fields before work on the Tivoli Quad had started. (For these first three images, east/Speer is at the top and north/Auraria Parkway is on the left.)

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-aerial-2014-10

In this second Google Earth image from October 2015, work had started on the Tivoli Quad project:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-aerial-2015-10

And here’s a site plan that shows the new Tivoli Quad and surroundings (courtesy of AHEC and Wenk Associates, the project’s landscape architect/urban design firm):

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-design

The Tivoli Quad features a large lawn for passive recreation, plenty of hardscaped areas for circulation and seating, a water feature, numerous trees and plantings, and other pedestrian amenities. The front of the historic Tivoli building will be redesigned to accommodate a cafe and beer garden with patios that overlook the plaza. The entire area is also being designed with large events in mind—such as commencement ceremonies—where lighting, A/V connections, and other features will allow for the Quad to be transformed into an amphitheater accommodating 12,000 seats.

As part of the Tivoli Quad project, new street infrastructure is going in as well. The biggest of these transportation improvements is the construction of 11th Street. Currently on the Auraria Campus, 11th Street exists only south of Larimer, where it functions mostly as an internal campus drive for parking access and service vehicles. With the Tivoli Quad project, 11th Street is being built as a full-access public street from Larimer to Auraria Parkway, where traffic signals will be installed to make 11th and Auraria Parkway a new fully signalized intersection. 11th Street will also receive bicycle lanes in both directions.

Larimer Street, which used to end in a turn-around loop at 11th (visible in the aerial photos), is being reconfigured to create a T-intersection at 11th, which opens up Larimer between Speer and 11th as a public street as well. The stretch of Larimer Street near the Tivoli between 11th and 10th has been removed and is being replaced with a pedestrian plaza fully integrated as part of the Tivoli Quad design.

Finally, Walnut Street, which presently runs from 9th to 10th Streets between the Tivoli and the parking garage, will be extended to 11th, connecting to the access drive along the side of MSU Denver’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, which will extend Walnut from 9th all the way to 12th Street.

Several of these new streets around the Tivoli Quad will be curbless, allowing the streets to be pedestrian-friendly and to function as an extension of the Quad for large events.

Now some photos!

The new 11th Street, looking from Larimer towards Walnut and Auraria Parkway with the Pepsi Center in the background:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-11th-1

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-11th-2

11th Street under construction from Walnut looking south toward Larimer:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-11th-3

Future intersection of 11th and Walnut Street under construction:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-walnut3

Looking down the new Walnut Street from 12th toward 11th, with the MSU Denver Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center on the right:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-walnut2

Intersection of Walnut and 11th Street under construction:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-walnut1

Tivoli Quad under construction with the newly pedestrianized section of Larimer between 10th and 11th on the right:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-larimer

Tivoli Quad along Larimer between 10th and 11th in front of the historic Tivoli Brewery/Student Union:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-larimer2

These last three photos were taken from the top of the historic Tivoli looking towards Downtown with the Tivoli Quad in the foreground.

View looking northeast at the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and Lower Downtown beyond, with the intersection of 11th and Walnut under construction in the center of the view:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-view1

View looking east at the Denver skyline and the central section of the Tivoli Quad:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-view2

View to the southeast with the new Larimer Street promenade on the right:

2016-04-05_tivoli-quad-view3

What a fantastic project! We’ll revisit Tivoli Quad later this summer after construction has been completed and all of the landscaping is in.


Live.Ride.Share Denver 2016 – Coming May 17!

“The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar, in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle, is actually the right to destroy the city.” -Lewis Mumford

I am excited to share the news that Denver will be hosting the Live.Ride.Share mobility summit on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the Colorado Convention Center!

2016-04-04_LRS_Denver2016

The Live.Ride.Share Denver event will feature excellent national and local speakers and great networking opportunities focused on expanding options for getting around Denver through means other than the private automobile.

Shared mobility services, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian options—there are all sorts of alternatives for expanding mobility and access around the city in an affordable, environmentally friendly, and convenient way! We must work together to reduce Denver’s reliance on the private automobile and to improve our first-mile/last-mile connections. Our city is growing and densifying at an amazing rate and building transportation infrastructure that serves only the private automobile is no longer a viable option. You can be part of the solution by attending Live.Ride.Share Denver 2016!

To register, click here and to learn more about the Live.Ride.Share Denver 2016 event, visit their website, which includes a number of excellent guest blog posts! I am attending. Will you?

2016-04-04_LRS_Denver2016-transit


FasTracks Progress: Central Park Station

Back in February, we checked in on the 38th and Blake station along the RTD’s soon-to-open A-line traveling between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport. Today, we are going to visit another station in anticipation of the new commuter line opening in 18 days!

All of the stations, with the exception of Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport, more or less follow the same design and format: At grade crossings at each end of the station, dark green slanted glass shelters, and raised platforms for level boarding on the trains.

2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-05 2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-04

Backing up a little bit, here is the whole station from Smith Road and Ulster Street.

2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-01

We have mentioned several times that full speed, regular schedule tests are underway. So, I decided to wait for a train. Trek on shiny new Sliverliner V, trek on!

2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-02 2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-03

Eighteen days until the grand opening! I can’t believe it’s almost here!


Blast from the Past: Denver Post Building

This image, taken on October 15, 2005, shows the construction of what was then known as the Denver Newspaper Agency building, located at the corner of Broadway and Cheyenne Place in Downtown Denver.

2016-04-03_bftp_dna-building

The Denver Newspaper Agency (DNA) was a publishing company that produced both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News under a joint operating agreement. The DNA’s new headquarters overlooking Civic Center Park was climbing to its final 11-story height in this October 2005 photo. A little over three years after this photo was taken, on February 27, 2009, the Rocky Mountain News would publish its final edition, just two months short of its 150th anniversary. Today the building is home to the Denver Post among other tenants.