Expect construction along 13th and 14th Ave. in coming months.
On Monday, City Council approved an approximate $3.6 million contract for upgrades and repairs to a range of streets across the city. The construction will make the intersections safer for pedestrians and people with disabilities-though Denver as a whole still has a lot of curbs and sidewalks to fix before it solves its pedestrian safety problem.
In Capitol Hill, three spots along 14th Ave, from Pearl St. to Clarkson St., and three spots along 13th Ave. at Clarkson St., Corona St. and Downing St. will see traffic light upgrades, as well as sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs.
One spot at the edge of Five Points and Elyria-Swansea at 38th Ave. & Arkins Ct. will also get updates, and the city will install a new traffic light at 20th Ave. and Downing St., by Saint Joseph Hospital.
Department of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Vanessa Lacayo said the city chose those intersections because they’re older and in particular need of repairs.
Funding for the improvements comes from tax dollars devoted to maintenance, and will help improve pedestrian safety.
Plus, curb renovations will bring ramps up to code, helping the city comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and making sidewalks accessible to people with disabilities.
Still, Denver, like a lot of cities across the U.S., has a long way to go towards holistic accessibility and pedestrian safety. A 2021 study showed traffic deaths in Colorado have almost doubled since 2009. Earlier this year, wheelchair users took city and state transportation officials on a trip around Denver to demonstrate the ongoing accessibility challenges.
Bigger efforts to upgrade Denver sidewalks may be underway. In November, voters will decide on the Denver Deserves Sidewalks ballot initiative, which would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for sidewalk improvements. Homeowners would fund the initiative by paying an annual fee, determined by how much of their property faces a street and what type of road their house sits beside.
Proponents of the initiative say the effort will provide long needed funding for sidewalks, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods where more people rely on walking.
Critics of Denver Deserves Sidewalks worry about high costs to homeowners, especially during a moment of high housing costs. While many single-family homes on typical 50-foot properties are projected to pay an annual fee of $110 based on fee rates, some people could get hit with annual costs over $600 or even $1,000.
Voters will decide come Election Day.
In the meantime, a few intersections will see repairs, though it’s not clear yet exactly when. With the funding approved, the city is now in the process of setting the project’s schedule.