A vision of a safer Colfax and Federal intersection comes to life for a day

by Jessica Vargas on June 7, 2018

Aerial view of the Via West Colfax pop-up neighborhood on June 3, 2018. Image credit: West Colfax Business Improvement District

The Via West Colfax pop-up neighborhood reimagined the Colfax-Federal cloverleaf as a people-friendly space

This past weekend, the West Colfax neighborhood had the opportunity to see what the Colfax and Federal cloverleaf interchange could look like as a safer and more accessible part of their community. Leading up to the event, volunteers helped the event organizers build a raised crosswalk, paint roll-out crosswalks, name the pop-up streets, bring in trees and plants, and paint a pop-up bike lane. All of these elements came together on Sunday for the Over the Colfax Clover neighborhood festival that offered not only fun, food, and live music but also a chance to see what both short-term safety improvements and more long-term visions could bring to the area.

“Colfax Avenue” and “Federal Boulevard” reimagined as an at-grade intersection. Image credit: WalkDenver

The event was set up as a mock street grid, including a demonstration of what an at-grade intersection of Colfax and Federal could look like. Street signs, painted crosswalks, donated plants and trees in colorful planters, and a large mural depicting affordable housing flanked the main intersection based on feedback from community members on what they would like to see the space used for in the future. The other fictional street names were also contributed by community members during the months-long planning process for the event.

Along “Federal Boulevard,” attendees could listen to live music, purchase food from local Sun Valley entrepreneurs, shop the local vendor marketplace, or visit the big tent to see the Federal Boulevard Photovoice exhibit and a display of West Colfax historical photos or provide feedback on the long-term redesigns developed so far. The northwest corner of the festival offered a fenced-off dog park for furry, four-legged attendees to enjoy and a kids area hosted by the Corky Gonzales library that included crafts and storytime. There was also a large paint-by-numbers mural that was filled in throughout the event depicting a more people-friendly street.

Clockwise from top left: An affordable housing mural lines the pop-up street; Arts & crafts time at the Corky Gonzales Library tent; Filling in the paint-by-numbers mural of a more walkable neighborhood; Community members provide feedback on the long-term redesign options for the cloverleaf. Images credit: WalkDenver

Throughout the event, attendees were surveyed about the various elements being presented. In the short-term, respondents expressed strong support for safety improvements such as raised crosswalks and protected bike lanes or paths that would make it safer and easier for people trying to walk or bike through the cloverleaf as well as calm traffic speeds along both streets. The raised crosswalk survey found that 74% of respondents said raised crosswalks would make crossing the many car ramps much safer and 80% said they would probably or absolutely be more likely to walk in the area if raised crosswalks were installed. The bike lane survey found that a protected bike lane would make 78% of respondents feel much safer biking around the cloverleaf and 73% would absolutely bike around on them.

From left: A local resident enjoys the raised crosswalk; The low-rider protected pop-up bike lane featuring an artistic crosswalk in the foreground. Images credit: WalkDenver

The project team would like to give a HUGE thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, vendors, partners, and the estimated 500 attendees who helped make this event such a success! There is still a long way to go toward realizing the long-term vision for a vibrant, safe, well-connected, and community-oriented intersection but it was fantastic to see some of the ideas come to life and restore this massive and dangerous piece of car-oriented infrastructure to a more people-friendly space, even for just one day.

Check out more media coverage of the event:

Group takes over Colfax and Federal interchange with mini-festival to show what could be there instead (Denver Post)

Pop-Up Block Party Closes Part of Major Denver Interchange to Imagine Safer, More Connected City (Next City)

Sunday: Reimagine the Colfax-Federal Cloverleaf Interchange as a Place for People, Not Cars (Streetsblog Denver)

The project team is made up of the West Colfax Business Improvement District, WalkDenver, and planning firms Michael Baker International and Critter Thompson Consulting. Community sponsors of the June 3 design demonstration include the Sun Valley Community Kitchen, Bikes Together, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Lake Steam Baths, Seedstock Brewery, Michael Baker International, Harmony Gardens, Ink Monstr, Yawp Cyclery, and New Belgium Brewing.

Additional partners include Kaiser Permanente, Denver Vision Zero Coalition, DHA/West Denver Renaissance Collaborative, Girls Inc., Federal Boulevard BID & Partnership, Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corporation, Servicios de la Raza, Denver Public Schools, Mundus Bishop Design, Studio Completiva, Urban Land Conservancy, Metro State University Studio M, InWorks at CU Denver, La Mano Art, WeCAN, the City and County of Denver, CDOT, and RTD.

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