Federal Boulevard, a state highway that doubles as an urban street, is one of Denver’s deadliest to travel. City and state transportation planners say a median down the center of the road’s southern segment will make it safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.
Construction began Monday, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced. CDOT is partnering with the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to build the raised concrete strip, which will extend 2.5 miles from Alameda to Vassar avenues on South Federal Boulevard.
Drivers have killed 19 people in crashes on South Federal since 2013, including eight people walking, according to Denver’s Vision Zero dashboard, a tool that measures the city’s progress on its goal of ending traffic deaths.
“This project will improve safety for both motorists and pedestrians along this corridor,” CDOT said in a statement. “The addition of the raised median helps to reduce car crashes, reduce vehicle speeds and decrease the rate and severity of crashes.”
Statistics show medians might help slow driving speeds and make pedestrians safer, but they’re far from a fix-all. Other portions of Federal have medians, but it typically tops the lists of Denver’s deadliest streets, according to city government data.
“It’s definitely not the entirety of what we need to do to make Federal Boulevard a truly safe street,” said Jill Locantore, head of Denver Streets Partnership, which advocates for better walking, biking and transit. “That ultimately will require reclaiming some of the space away from automobiles and repurposing it for transit so that you can still move a lot of people in a much smaller space. But as an interim first step, it will have some safety benefits.”
The project will include pedestrian crossings at each intersection, plus at Sanderson Gulch Trail. Crews will add striping and signs to the area as well. The median will also restrict some turns by drivers.
Crews will complete the median in late fall, a CDOT spokesperson said via email. It will cost $2.4 million.