Denver will ban cars in front of its city hall and ‘give it back to the people’ on April 21

Vehicles out, people in, by order of the mayor.

Electric vehicles line Bannock Street in front of Denver's City and County Building, Sept. 19, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Electric vehicles line Bannock Street in front of Denver's City and County Building, Sept. 19, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Denver will eliminate car traffic from the one-block portion of Bannock Street in front of the City and County Building this spring, making it a social place instead of a cut-through for drivers.

The city closed that stretch of Bannock between Colfax and 14th avenues in 2017 as a test. Since then, drivers have jumped the curb and caused security concerns.

“Today we’re excited to announce that we’re going to expand the front porch of the City and County Building,” Mayor Michael Hancock said at a press conference Thursday. “We will permanently close Bannock Street to vehicle traffic and begin the transformation into a public space that invites residents and visitors to gather and enjoy this beautiful part of the city.”

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Department of Parks and Recreation will close the street to cars April 21. Crews will paint a mural on the street and add planters. That’s the first phase, which will cost $200,000 and open in May, DOTI director Eulois Cleckley said.

Phase two will include a public planning process to create “a long-term, permanent vision for this stretch as a place of prominence, enjoyment and celebration,” according to a DOTI statement.

Bannock Street, Phase 2 day-to-day (top) and special event concepts. (Courtesy: Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Bannock Street, Phase 1 day-to-day (top) and special event concepts. (Courtesy: Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Bannock Street, Phase 1 day-to-day (top) and special event concepts. (Courtesy: Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Bannock Street, Phase 2 day-to-day (top) and special event concepts. (Courtesy: Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure)

“The street has primarily served vehicle traffic for so many years, and turning it back to the people for something that will turn into a space that can be utilized year-round is extremely important, and is really a part of the new focus and vision of our Department of Transportation and Infrastructure,” Cleckley said.

The change will effectively extend Civic Center Park as well.

Hancock said the change is not only a practical way to promote walking, biking and lingering, but also a symbolic one. The car ban is right in front of Denver’s seat of government, after all.

Twelve parking spaces will be repurposed for the project. City hall has two spots reserved for people with disabilities on Bannock Street that will be moved to the 14th Avenue entrance.

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