The city of Denver is almost ready to build the 39th Avenue Greenway. City staff describe the project as a mile-long park that also will control flooding, while some local activists have long questioned the idea.
The project will create an “open channel” — basically a low, grassy area that will wind along from Steele Street west to Franklin Street, near where 39th Avenue would be.
The channel will be a recreational area with a bicycle path, trees and various plazas, structures and playgrounds. During heavy storms, floodwater would run through the channel on its way down to the South Platte River.
The cut is a crucial part of a flood-control system that will keep water from flooding north toward the National Western Center, Interstate 70 and other low-lying areas. (Read our feature on flooding in North Denver and our overview of the flood-control project for more information.)
The project also will include pedestrian bridges and crossings to get people across the channel. Critics of the Platte to Park Hill flood-control project had asked whether the area would be safe during flood events; city staff have said that people will have plenty of time and warning to get out of the low-lying area.
Locals also have asked whether construction of the channel would surface any contaminants in the soil. Nancy Kuhn, the communications director for Denver Public Works, said that the city would test for and counter any environmental threats from construction. Denver also will work to keep the channel clear of any rubbish that accumulates from stormwater flows.
Water will enter the channel from a system of stormwater pipes that the city is upgrading. On the west end, it will exit through another pipe that feeds out to the river.
It’s not clear how much the project will cost, since final negotiations are still happening but the budget for the overall Platte to Park Hill project is $267 million to $298 million.
City staff are suggesting that Denver hire Sema Construction, Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, Icon Engineering, DHM Design and ECI to build the project. The Denver City Council will have to approve that choice.
Crews already are moving utility lines and doing other prep work. The design will be finalized early next year, and construction is scheduled to be done by the end of 2019.