No matter your means of motion, there's something in the works. From Bustang to Fort Collins to the train to DIA to remaking I-70, here's a roundup of 10 top transportation stories in Denver for 2015 and beyond.
Whether you're on foot or bike or driving or catching the bus or taking the train, there are plenty of transportation upgrades and initiatives underway in Denver. Here are 10 big stories we're following for the coming year and years to come.
Coming spring 2015, Bustang will link Union Station in downtown Denver with Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs and Colorado Springs with 13 cushy buses equipped with Wi-Fi and reclining seats. Fares will be $10 to Fort Collins, $12 to Frisco or Colorado Springs, $17 to Vail, and $28 to Glenwood.
Bikes on Broadway
There's a push to extend a protected bike lane from Brighton Boulevard down Broadway to I-25. The current plan calls for the bike lane to end downtown, but bike activists want it to run for additional two miles south into the Baker neighborhood. There's an online petition here.
This initiative comes on the heels of another big win for biking in Denver. he Downtown Denver Partnership successfully spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign for a protected bike lane on Arapahoe Street. The campaign raised $36,000 last fall to go with $120,000 in other funding.
A walkable Brighton Boulevard
WalkDenver's Jill Locantore penned a DenverUrbanism post in Nov. 2014 that called Brighton Boulevard "a harrowing place for pedestrians" and argued that $26 million pegged for improvements in the 2015 budget offer an opportunity to turn the street into "a true pedestrian paradise."
The pedestrian and bike bridge over I-25 at Colorado Boulevard
The interstate can be a mighty barrier, but the bridge connecting the light rail at Colorado Boulevard with Cherry Street over I-25 lands a blow for walkability and bikeability. Despite recent I-25 closures to pour the deck, the bridge won't be ready for human traffic until late summer 2015.
Colfax Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
In Aug. 2014, Denver officials recommended the implementation of BRT on the 10-mile stretch of Colfax Avenue between the Auraria campus and the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. The preceding study found that BRT could shave 12 minutes from the trip between I-25 and I-225.
"We're digging into it," says Tykus Holloway, director of policy, planning and sustainability at Denver Public Works. He says the city hopes to complete an environmental review for the Federal Transit Agency by summer and qualify for federal funding by the end of 2015.
I-25 and Santa Fe Drive
The northbound merge has been a pit of despair for commuters since the new flyover opened in 2014. The situation seems worse than the days of dodging across three lanes of traffic to make the 6th Avenue exit, but there's at least some light at the end of the tunnel. After more than five years of construction, the project is slated to be finished in 2016.
uberPOOL in Denver
Launched exclusively in L.A. at press time, Uber's uberPOOL allows people to share rides -- and thus split fares -- with others in need of transportation at the same time and place. The big question: When is it coming to Denver? The big answer: "
We're working on rolling it out to more markets, but nothing in the works quite yet for Denver," says UberDenver
GM Will McCollum.
FasTracks moving forward
The goalposts have moved a bit, but we're coming into the home stretch for the DIA train and version 1.0 of the Northwest line -- which will become a bus from Westminster to Boulder -- and other projects are currently scheduled until 2044 on the current FasTracks calendar. Fiscal issues or not, the long-awaited train from Union Station to the airport becomes a reality in 2016.
High-speed rail on the Front Range
The 2009 notice of federal funding for high-speed rail caught Colorado a bit off guard; the state needed more thorough reviews to be eligible for any money. To meet this requirement, a draft of the Interregional Connectivity Study was released in Jan. 2014 -- it concluded high-speed rail on I-25 was feasible for $14 billion (Eagle to DIA on I-70 is another $16 billion) -- and opened up for public comment.
Where the money would come from is the next big question. As CDOT's David Krutsinger explains, "
With the buying power of the gas tax continuing to decline because it is not indexed for inflation, all major transportation projects need new funding sources."
The controversial project to expand, cover and otherwise upgrade I-70 through Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods in northeast Denver is moving ahead. The preferred alternative includes 10 lanes and a park atop a partially covered segment, but it's not set in stone
, and financing the project through a public-private partnership is also possible. A decision should be made in March 2015 and construction is slated to commence in late 2016. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is certain -- not everyone will be happy.
Bonus: Colorado Hyperloop
Elon Musk recently announced plans to build a Hyperloop test track "most likely in Texas," and the good people at Colorado Hyperloop
share Musk's vision of moving people in near-vacuum tubes at 760 miles per hour, give or take. They estimate a trip from Denver to Fort Collins would take 18 minutes and 21 minutes to Pueblo.
We've also got ET3 in Longmont, with plans to build an in-state test tube for a system that could hit 4,000 miles per hour. If that doesn't work, maybe we could at least each get a KillaJoule, the Denver-made world's fastest electric motorcycle that recently hit a record 241 miles per hour at the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials in Utah.