Reconnecting South Broadway

by Jill Locantore on December 11, 2015

Provide feedback on the I-25 & Broadway Station Area Draft Plan December 16th

Article by Ryan Sagar, WalkDenver Board member and representative on the I-25 and Broadway Station Area Plan Steering Committee

West Exposition ExtensionProposed street and sidewalk improvements to better connect fragmented neighborhoods

The I-25 and Broadway Station is one of the most heavily used transit stations in the RTD system. It serves five light rail lines and four bus lines. The station is surrounded by the established neighborhoods of Athmar Park, Baker, Overland, Platt Park, Ruby Hill, Wash Park West, and Valverde. It’s also in close proximity to major corridors such as Broadway Street, Mississippi Avenue, Santa Fe Drive, and Interstate 25. With abundant vehicular access, proximity to developed neighborhoods, and a short ride to downtown, it’s got all the makings of a multi-modal transit oriented development.

Station Area
Diagram representing the transit station’s prominence within a larger transportation and infrastructure network

However, one visit to the station will tell you all you need to know about why this centrally located station has seen very little nearby redevelopment over the past two decades. The South Platte River, Central Main Line, I-25, and Santa Fe Drive all pose as major obstacles for pedestrians and bicycles. Broadway and Mississippi are anything but friendly, inviting, and accessible to people on foot. Unfortunately, the station is pinned between major vehicular thoroughfares with very few connections for anyone else. The I-25 & Broadway Station Area Plan hopes to leverage those assets, while providing better connectivity across them.

barriers and fragmented sitesDiagram noting current man-made and natural barriers in the station area that disconnect the transit station from the community

The plan has been a culmination of in-depth market analysis, on-site observations, public outreach, stakeholder engagement, and steering committee feedback. As a result of the planning process, the station area plan aims to focus on four guiding principles of being Connected, Resilient, Vibrant and Transformative. While all four have great implications on the future of the station and the area of influence, I’m most excited about the idea of improving connectivity to a location that faces such a high degree of inability to move around quickly.

walkshed issues
Illustration of a five minute walk from the transit station creating a very one-sided station area

Based on the Connected principle, the station area plan will recommend a wave of new pedestrian advancements including new bridges over existing barriers, reconnecting existing grids, creating a network of parks and open spaces, developing a signature street, and improving the sidewalk and intersection conditions along Mississippi and South Broadway.

Bike & Ped ImprovementProposed pedestrian and bicycle route improvements including new connections over the Central Main Line, Santa Fe Drive, and South Platte River

The South Broadway improvements listed in the Station Area Plan really hit home for me as I used to live in the West Wash Park Neighborhood and absolutely fell in love with walking along Broadway. With its charming mixed-use character, South Broadway offers a little bit of everything for everyone. This welcoming characteristic is fairly continuous from Downtown Denver to Downtown Englewood except for the area around the station. To address this missing piece of the identity that is South Broadway, the plan calls for a continuation of the mixed-use character by developing active street edges, introducing quality architecture, and providing transparent facades to make walking at street level interesting. Even with the expected widening of Broadway to move forward, it is at least promising to hear that the plan will not turn its back on Broadway.

sidewalksProposed sidewalk, streetscape, façade, and intersection improvements

If you would like to hear more about the I-25 & Broadway Station Area Plan, there will be a public workshop on December 16th, 2015 from  6 PM to 7:45 PM at the McKinley-Thatcher Elementary School A.P. Room (Cafetorium) located at 1230 S. Grant St. Denver, CO 80210. The draft plan will also be posted on the project website about one week prior to the public meeting. As a representative of WalkDenver on the Steering Committee, I am very pleased to say that this plan will guide this station and the surrounding neighborhood to a more walkable and better connected future.

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