The Colorado Center Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge provides greatly needed improved pedestrian and bicycle access over Interstate 25 in the vicinity of Colorado Boulevard and East Evans Avenue in Denver. The bridge, an arch‐type structure with access ramps on each end, spans I-25, landing at Cherry Street to the north and RTD’s Colorado Station (light rail transit) to the south.
The Colorado Center Bridge opened to the public on July 15, 2015.
The bridge increases multimodal connectivity between the Colorado Station, which boasts 5600 boardings and arrivals every day, and adjacent neighborhoods, the Denver bicycle route network, and employment and retail centers. User surveys show that 2% of RTD’s ridership is bike‐on‐transit and 43% of the riders walk to transit.
RTD included the following in a statement of support for the bridge: “The proposed pedestrian bridge over I-25 connecting to RTD’s Colorado Station will provide our riders with significantly improved accessibility and convenience, both of which are priorities for RTD.”
The need for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely and conveniently cross I‐25 and to access the Colorado Station has been identified in five different plans in the last 12 years. The bridge need was first identified in 1999 during the planning of the I-25 expansion and Southeast Corridor LRT project (known as T‐REX), and was confirmed as recently as 2008 in the Denver’s Strategic Transportation Plan, a plan that set a direction for Denver as a livable city with a multimodal transportation system. The tenets of this multimodal system, including dependable transit options, safe pedestrian linkages, a comprehensive bicycle system, and efficient and well‐maintained infrastructure are key elements of the Colorado Center Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge.
Denver Arts & Venues’ Public Art program hosted the dedication of “A Mindful Bridge” at the Colorado Center Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge featuring North Carolina artists Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii on Monday, Oct. 5.
Photos: Denver Arts & Venues
The bridge is open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic as of July 15! Final clean-up and other minor work items will be completed over the following weeks.
Based on the identified need, the City of Denver competed for and was awarded federal transportation funding through the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG). The total estimated project cost for the bridge, including design and construction, is $8 million. The overall project is funded with $4 million in City Capital Improvement Funds, and $4 million in federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Funds.
With extensive public involvement over the past two years, the City’s project design team analyzed numerous location and design alternatives for the bridge. Options were evaluated with a variety of criteria, including visibility, access, usage, bridge span length, infrastructure impacts, utility impacts, and right‐of‐way requirements. Public comment confirmed support for the bridge project itself and for the selected location. Other potential alignments failed to meet the goals for connectivity, not directly connecting to RTD’s Colorado Station, as well as had major utility conflicts. The selected location provides direct access to the station, other transportation facilities, and had limited utility conflicts.
Visually the bridge will be a steel structure similar to other pedestrian bridges along the I-25 corridor that were constructed as part of the T-REX project. The bridge is a single span arch/through truss that delivers a signature, high profile look and aesthetic appeal. The ramps are a combination of bridge spans and walls, allowing more light to come through the ramps and reduce the amount of vertical walls in residential areas. Where a wall structure is present, the design includes pre‐formed concrete, which will be a neutral brick design. Additionally, one percent of the overall project budget must be used on public art, which could be incorporated into the wall design.
By providing greatly needed connectivity to RTD’s Colorado Station, the Colorado Center Pedestrian / Bicycle Bridge is key to spurring a Transit Oriented Development (TOD): a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use community that encourages residents and workers to drive their cars less and ride transit more. TOD’s provide relief from completely automobile-dependent lifestyles and are attractive because they simplify life and allow people to experience a strong sense of community. TOD’s stimulate local economic development, generally increasing property values, reflecting the direct benefits to residents and businesses of having diverse transportation options. Most importantly, TOD’s provide people with options so they can choose where to live, work and play.
The Colorado Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge will be equipped with lighting and cameras for security purposes. The majority of the lighting on the bridge will be LED lights embedded into the railing which illuminate the bridge deck, stairs and ramps. This provides adequate lighting for the bridge users but does not give off ambient light onto vehicles travelling on I-25 or into the adjacent properties. At the end of the ramps, there will be overhead lights for enhanced safety and security at the transition points. Cameras will also be installed on the bridge.
Construction is scheduled to begin March 17, 2014 and is expected to last until late summer 2015
The need for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely and conveniently cross I‐25 and to access the Colorado light rail transit (LRT) station has been identified in five different plans in the last 12 years. The bridge need was first identified in 1999 during the planning of the I-25 expansion and Southeast Corridor LRT project known as T‐REX, and was confirmed as recently as 2008 in the Denver’s Strategic Transportation Plan, a plan that set a direction for Denver as a livable city with a multimodal transportation system.
The Colorado Center Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge will enhance the strength of the area as a TOD, as it links transit to residential and commercial centers. It eliminates the need to cross the interchanges of Colorado Boulevard and Evans Avenue with I-25.
Currently, in order to reach RTD’s Colorado Station, pedestrians and bicycles must cross automobile traffic at least five times at the Colorado Boulevard and I-25 interchange or three times at Evans Avenue and the I-25 interchange. Safety statistics confirm the need for a better pedestrian and bicyclist connection over I-25 between Colorado Boulevard and Evans Avenue. For the area that the bridge will service, there were a total of 28 accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles – one of which resulted in the loss of a life - over the last ten-year period.
The bridge provides both local and regional transportation connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists. It provides a direct connection to the Colorado LRT station, as well as the bus transfer stop. Three LRT lines are served at this location, as well as 4 different bus routes (21, 40, 46, DD). The bridge also provides multimodal connections to regional bus and bicycle routes.
For pedestrians, the bridge reduces the walking distance from the residential and commercial centers to the Colorado LRT station by over two-thirds of a mile. It will provide regional bicycle connectivity, directly linking into the on-street bike route system via an east-west route on Jewell Avenue. The bridge is also two blocks from a key north-south bike route on Dahlia St.
Based on the identified need, the City submitted the Colorado Center Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge for federal transportation funding through the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG). The bridge scored well in a competitive, public process as a regionally significant project and $4 million of federal funding was approved by DRCOG. The $4 million of federal funding is Transportation Enhancement funding that can only be used for pedestrian and bicycle type projects. It was combined with $4 million in City Capital Improvement Funds for a total project cost, including design and construction, of $8 million.
Within a five-minute walk (quarter-mile), the bridge will serve 279 residential units and four elder care facilities. Within a ten-minute walk (half-mile), the number of residential units served increases to 501 and there is approximately 500,000 square feet of office and retail space.
Unlike for automobiles, data on pedestrian/bicycle usage is limited and it is difficult to precisely forecast usage. However, considering the recognized distance people are willing to walk or bike to transit was a half-mile and 1.5 mile respectively, the estimated population and employment user-base for the bridge was 92,000. Assuming that 4.5 percent of the user-base walk and one percent bike as their transportation mode of choice  the bridge was estimated to carry up to 4,000 pedestrians and 920 bicyclists. While usage information is one criterion in project selection, the bridge is an investment in Denver’s transportation future and fits the goals for sustainable growth
 2000 Census, United States Census Bureau
By providing greatly needed connectivity to RTD’s Colorado Station, the Colorado Center Pedestrian / Bicycle Bridge is key to spurring a Transit Oriented Development (TOD): a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use community that encourages residents and workers to drive their cars less and ride transit more. TOD’s stimulate local economic development, generally increasing property values, reflecting the direct benefits to residents and businesses of having diverse transportation options. In some studies, TOD has been shown to have economic benefits, increasing average premiums between 6.4 and 45 percent for residential properties and between 8 and 37 percent for commercial properties compared to non-TOD counterparts.
 TCRP 102: Transit-Oriented Development in the United States, Transportation Research Board, 2004.
A final project report was completed that discusses the several criteria, including visibility, access, usage, bridge span length, infrastructure impacts, utility impacts, and right‐of‐way required. It presents community concerns and mitigation. A parking study was also performed for the area.
The bridge will impact 15 spaces on the west side of Cherry Street, maintaining 34 of the current 54 on-street parking spaces on Cherry Street. A parking study was performed for the neighborhood. Overall available parking occupancy was 20-24%, indicating that there is adequate on-street parking available throughout the neighborhood. Using data from other LRT stations, it is forecasted that additional 24 vehicles would parking in the neighborhood and within one-block of the bridge. With this potential increase in demand, it is anticipated that maximum occupancy during the day would be 60-70%, leaving 30-40% of the on-street parking available.
The parking study provided a baseline against which parking can be compared once the bridge is open. A follow-up study will be conducted after the bridge is open to analyze any potential impacts to the neighborhood. If warranted, measures to address parking issues will be identified at that time.
As with all structures in the city, the bridge will undergo a safety inspection every three years, which may result in repairs and rehabilitation. Any graffiti on the structure can be handled through the City and County Denver Partners Against Graffiti program. The program provides free removal or removal assistance. The City is currently developing maintenance agreements for snow removal and sweeping of the bridge. The bridge will be constantly monitored for on-going maintenance issues that have appeared or reported by users.
There is expected to be no disruption in City services. Trash collection will be maintained as usual.
Embedded and overhead lighting on the bridge will illuminate the bridge. The lighting is designed to provide full light to the bridge deck and ramps, but not filter onto the highway or adjacent properties. Also, cameras will be installed and monitored 24 hours.
As with any construction project, there will be temporary effects on the surrounding neighborhood. Detailed information about the construction impacts will be finalized with selection of the contractor. Construction of the bridge will shall consider the city’s noise ordinance. Localized closures to through traffic on Cherry Street will most likely occur; however, access to all residential driveways along Cherry Street will be maintained at all times. Closure of Colorado Center Drive will be required and any detours for the closure of Colorado Center Drive will also be along city streets and will be coordinated closely with the nearby businesses to minimize impacts. I-25 closures are anticipated and will be limited to night time only. The public will be informed well in advance of impending impacts.