Streetscape Plan envisions a more people friendly Colfax

by Jill Locantore on January 28, 2016

Colfax Fairfax Pedestrian Crossing

Priorities include enhanced sidewalks, medians, and bulb-outs

 

Article by Eric Swan, WalkDenver Policy Committee Member and representative on the Streetscape Advisory Group

The intersection of Colfax and Fairfax in East Denver isn’t designed to be a particularly safe place for pedestrians.  There is no crosswalk or traffic signal at the intersection.  Last November, an SUV crashed into the entrance of Marzcyk Fine Foods on the corner.  A year previously, a car crashed into the side of the Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery just a block a way.  And yet, an average of 50 pedestrians cross Colfax at Fairfax every hour during peak summer evenings.

Even though Colfax is designated by the Colorado Department of Transportation as a state highway, increased retail and restaurant activity along Denver’s most famous avenue has created more of a main street feel.  This has led to increased pedestrian activity, and in turn, demand for better pedestrian infrastructure.

The Colfax Mayfair Business Improvement District (BID) has therefore identified Colfax and Fairfax as the first focus area for improvements in the conceptual streetscape design plan it completed in late 2015.  The recently formed BID, which stretches from Eudora Street to Monaco Parkway, hired the local firm Design Workshop to develop the plan in partnership with local businesses, nonprofit organizations (including WalkDenver), neighborhood residents, and government entities.  Primary goals of the plan are to support the identity of this section of Colfax and to enhance mobility.  Among the priorities are enhancing existing sidewalks, creating more functional and aesthetically pleasing medians, and adding landscaped bulb-outs at traffic lights.

Improvements at the Fairfax intersection will ideally include a pedestrian signal equipped with a crosswalk and public art (see conceptual drawing above). Enhancing the crosswalk at Colfax and Elm with paint treatment that gives the appearance of brick is also a more cost effective possibility.

A second focus area is the Mayfair Town Center at Krameria Street.  The City has designated Krameria  as a bicycle route, but it lacks stripes and signage that identify it as such. Colfax and Krameria is also the heaviest used transit stop in the area and and is envisioned to be a multimodal station. Denver Public Works will install the signed bike route this year and the BID will seek grant funding for a bicycle rack or corral. The BID is also exploring the possibility of restoring lights along Krameria that connect the Town Center to Colfax.

Mayfair Town Center at KrameriaConceptual drawing of improvements at Mayfair Town Center

Other, smaller improvements called for in the plan include bicycle racks, trashcans, and opportunities for business to adopt bus stops, which will create a more aesthetically pleasing corridor and also serve to promote local businesses.  Strategies for improving bicycle and pedestrian connectivity to Colfax from cross streets include wayfinding measures such as small walls with street names visible.

Implementation of these improvements depends on public and private funding, and the BID plans to submit a 2017 Capital Improvements Project request to  City Council members for the Colfax and Fairfax pedestrian crossing.  There will also be a concerted effort to coordinate with the other Colfax BIDs to create a safer, more cohesive corridor.  The BIDs’ collective efforts to slow traffic and augment safety will allow both drivers and pedestrians to take notice of what Colfax brings to the table.  Promoting the one-of-a-kind character Colfax offers by identifying the diverse sections and their unique qualities will enhance and solidify the avenue’s distinction as Denver’s iconic street for the future.

For more information on the streetscape improvement project, visit the BID website.

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