West Colfax group wants to show you a beautiful, pedestrian-friendly future, using lowriders

This weekend, the BID will show plans they hope could make the intersection safer using drawings, diagrams and, why not, lowriders.

Allan Tellis. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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The Colfax Avenue cloverleaf at Federal Boulevard, Feb. 6, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)   colfax; sun valley; traffic; transportation; kevinjbeaty; denverite; colorado; denver;

The Colfax Avenue cloverleaf at Federal Boulevard, Feb. 6, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The cloverleaf intersection at Federal Boulevard and Colfax Avenue has long been a point of consternation for bike-and-pedestrian-oriented community members and city planners who say it has no real use and in fact creates excessively dangerous conditions for anyone not in a car. 

Dan Shah, executive director of the West Colfax BID, said some residents even consider crossing the intersection a “suicidal risk.”

This weekend, the BID will show what they hope could become short-term and long-term solutions, and they’ll show them off with drawings, diagrams and, why not, lowriders. At the demonstration party, the cars will be used as a barrier to mimic the pathways for pedestrians proposed in the group’s short-term solutions.

“From the pedestrian standpoint, it’s one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire city,” he said. “You have a situation where pedestrians are crossing ramps where cars have nothing to slow them down. These are extremely dangerous conditions.”

On Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the West Colfax BID is hosting a block party and showcasing several potential temporary solutions for the area. There will be activities for kids and adults as well as giveaways including RTD passes, tickets to the Alamo Drafthouse and gift certificates.

Similar to other neighborhoods in the city, residents in the West Colfax neighborhood are asking how they can make their community more connected to the rest of the city in a way that is not so car-centric.

“There have been a number of pedestrian fatalities that we’ve documented, and actually it’s one of the loudest sections because of the way the roadways are structured,” said Shah. Residents also hope to beautify the area in this process as they have told the BID that the concrete laden landscape is not very aesthetically pleasing and is lacking concerning tree coverage and other greenery.

The short-term solutions proposed include new traffic lights and colorful crosswalks.

Planners believe that making it clearer to drivers and pedestrians whose turn it is to proceed could dramatically reduce confusion and accidents in the area.

They hope to add signage which reinforces state law to make drivers aware that they need to allow pedestrians to cross the street safely. They also hope to add vibrant colors to the street that will bring attention to the designated paths for bikers and pedestrians.

Here are renderings of their long-term proposal, which would radically transform the area.
A rendering of a split-grade one way option (retaining the Federal bridge, with a split in traffic: NB Federal going adjacent to Mile High stadium creating the space for a green bike/ped way adjacent to SB traffic) (courtesy of the West Colfax BID)

A rendering of a split-grade one way option (retaining the Federal bridge, with a split in traffic: NB Federal going adjacent to Mile High stadium creating the space for a green bike/ped way adjacent to SB traffic) (courtesy of the West Colfax BID)

A rendering of an at-grade option for the intersection (eliminating the Federal bridge) (Courtesy of the West Colfax BID)

A rendering of an at-grade option for the intersection (eliminating the Federal bridge) (Courtesy of the West Colfax BID)

Existing conditions at Federal and Colfax (Courtesy of West Colfax BID)

Existing conditions at Federal and Colfax (Courtesy of West Colfax BID)

A depiction of planned adjacent properties showing how "Via West Colfax" would fit in (Courtesy of the West Colfax BID)

A depiction of planned adjacent properties showing how "Via West Colfax" would fit in (Courtesy of the West Colfax BID)

In a brochure, the BID explains the problems they say are caused by the clover. They claim it does very little in terms of assisting traffic flow and point out the success of intersections like the one at Colfax and Colorado Boulevard, which handles at least 8,000 more cars than the clover on a typical workday.

“If you re-established the grid pattern instead of having a highway design you would have a much more porous intersection, more options for pedestrians and cars to come through,” said Shah. Some solutions involve keeping the bridge that crosses over Colfax while others eliminate it all together, opting for a more conventional “at grade” feel, like the intersection at Colorado and Colfax.

They’re hoping to have a temporary fix in place by the fall of 2020 while they pursue longer-term fixes, possibly via a private public partnership.