When all is said and done, it might take longer to design and build a 1.5-mile bike lane on Broadway than it does for construction crews to widen a 10-mile stretch of I-70 that includes a 40-foot deep trench.
According to the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and its consultants, construction on a two-way bike lane on Broadway between Center Avenue and the Cherry Creek Trail will begin sometime in mid-2022. The project, which has been in the works since 2015, was at one point expected to start in 2018. By comparison, the massive I-70 expansion began in 2018 and is expected to take five years, according to the Denver Post.
Broadway would be a crucial street for people on bikes, who lack a safe and continuous north-south connection to and from the city’s core, according to the transportation department. The current six-block bikeway on the street’s southern portion is technically just a pilot that doesn’t connect to any of the city’s growing bike network. The final design, which is 90 percent done, includes a continuous, two-way bike lane that’s protected from traffic by concrete curbs and parked cars.
It’s about “prioritizing safety, prioritizing an efficient and connected network that allows choice in how folks move around,” said Miles Graham, a principal at GBSM, a consultant on the project. The project, which Graham called a “bike superhighway” gets close to but does not quite meet the Broadway light rail station.
DOTI’s biggest barrier right now is that it still needs to acquire right-of-way — pieces of private property near intersections and make them public, said James Colbert, an engineer with the transportation department, during a public online meeting Wednesday evening. But there is more bureaucracy, too.
“Obviously, you don’t just get to put a shovel in the ground the day you have right-of-way,” Colbert said.
Next comes putting the project out for a competitive bidding process. “And that takes time,” Colbert said. Then Denver City Council will have to approve the contracts. “There are a lot of steps in there.”
The build-out will take a year to a year and a half, Colbert said, putting the estimated date of completion in mid-2023 at the earliest.
Transportation officials and people who ride bikes want to see a lane that stretches all the way to Civic Center Park, but that segment is unfunded. Maybe it won’t take that long, though?