Pedestrians and cyclists have been frustrated by the closure of two pedestrian bridges over Cherry Creek in close proximity, one off Delgany St. and another off Wynkoop St. The crossing at Wewatta St. in between the bridges has remained open.
The pedestrian bridge off Wynkoop St. is managed by the city, and reopened Thursday. There’s new railing over part of the bridge that still needs some repairs, but aside from that the bridge is back in business. The other remains a mystery.
No one knows who owns the bridge at Delgany Street, so repairs are stuck in limbo.
The Greenway Foundation, a nonprofit focused on preserving Denver rivers, has been maintaining the pedestrian bridge at Delgany St. since the 1990s. The group also takes care of the bridge next to it, which holds two rail cars the group sometimes uses as classrooms for summer camps.
“About a year ago, some of the boards on the decking were broken and someone’s foot went through, so we were forced to close the [pedestrian] bridge down,” said Ryan Aids, Greenway Foundation Executive Director.
The Greenway Foundation began fundraising the $250,000 needed to get the bridge back into shape, but as they sought permits for the construction, the nonprofit realized they could not show ownership of the bridge. A property transfer in the 1990s neglected to include the bridges in the deed, so it’s not clear who they belong to.
“It’s very foggy,” Aids said, adding that he’s learned a lot more about bridges in the past year than he ever anticipated. “The bridges just kind of got lost in the transfer, so there is no clear title paperwork for who owns those bridges currently that we can find.”
The Greenway Foundation’s lawyer is looking into it — Aids said they want to open the bridge as soon as possible, but can’t until they find answers. The organization has ceased fundraising and put the $11,000 it’s raised so far aside until they can determine ownership. Once that’s clear, they’ll continue looking for grants and fundraising from the community to fix the bridge.
Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who represents the area, said on Twitter that her office is looking into how they can help.
Pedestrians and cyclists are eager to see the mystery bridge back open.
Aids said he hears from people almost daily about the bridge at Delgany Street, particularly from those who live in apartment buildings next door, and cyclists who have to take a detour that includes some stairs.
“There are only a few ways that I consider safe enough to bike through LoDo,” said John Erhardt, who often bikes through the area. He’s been crossing at Wewatta instead, but feels like there’s not enough cycling infrastructure in Denver to begin with, so any closed bridge is a loss.
Jonathan Fertig lives in one of the apartments along the creek, and said many in his building are annoyed. Cyclists can only use the part of Cherry Creek Trail on the opposite side of the creek, so people have to double back.
“I’ve noticed when I go for walks on the Cherry Creek trail, the walking side now has more bikes and scooters on it, presumably because people don’t feel like going around the long route to access the bike side,” he said. Plus, he’s seen some people hopping the gates and using the bridges anyway.
Fertig said the bridges are also main exit points for people who commute downtown, who now have to reroute. With the Wewatta St. bridge still open and the Wynkoop St. crossing back it’s not a huge detour, but in a city known for its car use, closed pedestrian bridges feel like a symbol of a bigger problem.
“It’s not impenetrable at this point, but it’s just inconvenient, and I think indicative of a larger issue, which is a kind of de-prioritization of pedestrian infrastructure,” Fertig said. “It just makes moving around the city without a car that much harder.”
So if you own this bridge or know who does, let us know.