Downtown Access Streets

A. General Characteristics

Streets located in downtown areas are unique compared to the traditional street functional classifications of arterial, collector and local. These streets provide a high degree of access to the highly intense mixed land uses – including office, retail, residential, and public uses – located within Downtown. Travel by alternative modes is extremely important to reduce congestion, and minimize land devoted to vehicular travel and parking. Consequently, Downtown Access Streets are designed as multimodal facilities to accommodate a complex transportation network with the following characteristics:

  • Higher levels of mobility during peak hours,
  • Heavy pedestrian activity and bicycle travel,
  • Intensive bus and light rail transit movements,
  • Frequent and disruptive loading and unloading activities,
  • A large reservoir of both on-street and off-street parking spaces, and
  • Complex underground utility systems.

    Typically, streets classified Downtown Access Streets in Denver are one-way streets consisting of two or more travel lanes, with one-street parking on one or both sides, arranged in a closely spaced grid pattern. Speeds on Downtown Access Streets generally range between 25 and 30 mph, with speeds during peak hours in the range of 15 to 25 mph. Traffic capacity and volumes on Downtown Access Streets are dependent on the number of travel lanes, signalization, and other factors, range from 5,000 to 25,000 vehicles per day.

    Due to the substantial amount of employment, special event attendance, and shopping activity, pedestrian facilities are designed and maintained to promote this mode of transportation. Wide sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian crossing signals at a majority of intersections enhance the pedestrian environment.

    Public transit is another extremely important mode of travel on Downtown Access Streets. Bus stops, centralized bus transfer facilities, transit-only lanes, specialized signage and crossings for light rail lines, and priority signalization for transit vehicles are emphasized in the design of these streets. Finally, bike route connections, on-street bike lanes, and other bicycle amenities are important on Downtown Access Streets.

    Downtown Access Streets primarily provide local land use access, and are, therefore, designated using a more local perspective. Arterial streets adjacent to or perpendicular to Downtown Access Streets – for example, Speer Boulevard and Colfax Avenue – serve citywide and regional travel to and from Downtown.

    B. Definition Criteria

    The following criteria are used in designating Downtown Access Streets as part of the LUTP. The criteria are a combination of quantitative and subjective measures that are applied to both existing and future characteristics of streets located in Downtown Denver. Not all of the criteria need to be met in designating Downtown Access Streets, but some criteria carry more weight than others. The following criteria are listed in order of relative importance or weight:

    • Includes streets located entirely or partially in the Downtown area;
    • Consists primarily of a grid of closely spaced one-way streets;
    • Serves high-density and high-intensity mixed land uses located adjacent to the street in a Downtown environment;
    • Provides primary access to Downtown businesses and activity, while emphasizing safety and efficiency for all modes of travel using access and traffic management techniques;
    • Provides relatively wide sidewalks, with enhanced pedestrian amenities such as street trees and other landscaping, public art and street furniture, and public plazas;
    • Uses synchronized traffic signals, with pedestrian crossing phases, at major intersections, generally at closely spaced intervals;
    • Provides connectivity to the surrounding arterial and collector roadway network;
    • Accommodates existing or future average daily traffic volumes of 5,000 or greater;
    • Accommodates an extensive local and regional transit system including bus and light rail transit;
    • Provides specified loading zones and large amounts of parking – both public on-street (usually metered or restricted) parking and private off-street parking structures or surface lots;
    • Includes specialized signing, priority signalization, and priority lanes to accommodate peak traffic flows, on-street parking, or transit vehicles;
    • Includes bicycle lanes and other bicycle amenities on certain streets, to provide bicycle access and connectivity with major Denver and regional bike routes;
    • Accommodates vehicular speeds of 30 mph or less; and
    • Provides two or more travel lanes.

    Applying these criteria, the streets located within the following boundaries in Downtown Denver have been designated as Downtown Access Streets: Colfax Avenue on the south, Speer Boulevard on the west, Wewatta Street and Park Avenue West on the north, and Broadway Street on the east.