We’re teaming up with the West Colfax neighborhood to envision a new future for the Colfax-Federal cloverleaf

by Jessica Vargas on February 8, 2018

Image source: Otak

The intersection of Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard, known as the Colfax Clover, was intended to provide quick access for large numbers of fast-moving vehicles. But for anyone trying to access Denver’s west side on foot, bicycle, or transit, the interchange is a dangerous barrier that separates the area from the rest of the city. It consists of a large, grade-separated “cloverleaf” design, which community members will tell you creates dangerous conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders, who must deal with high-speed traffic, unsafe crossings, and difficult-to-navigate connection points in order to reach daily destinations. Located only two miles from downtown Denver and adjacent to one of the city’s busiest transit hubs and two scenic trails, the outdated cloverleaf design also takes up about 29 acres of land in a growing urban community.

West Colfax is over the Colfax clover

Over the last year, WalkDenver has teamed up with the West Colfax Business Improvement District to launch the Over the Colfax Clover project as an effort to bring together community members, local technical experts, and those who have control over the intersection to develop short and long-term design solutions for an intersection that is safer and easier to navigate for all users. We began community outreach last spring by hosting a series of meetings and walk audits with community members. Local residents, businesses, and service providers from neighborhoods adjacent to the interchange all provided their input on a community vision for the future of the cloverleaf. This was followed by a design charrette we organized to convene a group of engineers, urban planners, developers and agency officials to explore potential re-designs and land re-uses – a rare opportunity for industry experts and government agencies to efficiently workshop a critical equity issue.

Based on this input, planning/engineering firm OTAK developed visualizations of recommended re-configurations for community assessment, including one plan that originated from the community. They presented preliminary 3-D renderings of two possible reconfigurations at a community meeting held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema last Saturday. The first was an at-grade concept that would eliminate the Colfax Avenue viaduct and the Federal Boulevard flyover to create a more traditional intersection that includes wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes while also opening up several acres of land for redevelopment.

The second concept presented was a split one-way design that maintains the grade-separated intersection but transforms the Federal Boulevard bridge into a one-way, southbound street for vehicles between 19th Avenue and Howard Place. The new street design would incorporate a two-way protected cycletrack and a wide pedestrian path that could become a signature destination for Denver with fantastic views and public spaces. Northbound traffic would be routed on a parallel street before joining back up with Federal Boulevard, similar to the way Broadway and Lincoln join up near I-25. Attendees had the opportunity to speak with project team members and provide their feedback about elements they liked and questions or concerns they had.

Image source: Otak

Design ideas will be on display during a one-day demonstration

Similar to 2015’s tactical urbanism event Reimagine West Colfax, we once again wanted to use a temporary design demonstration to bring to life some of the more people-friendly elements the community hopes to see incorporated into the design of the intersection. Planning for the event is currently underway with the event itself scheduled for Saturday, June 3. We will be taking over the southwest leaf of the clover for the event that will celebrate this collective effort and the community’s vision for a more people-friendly neighborhood.

If you’d like to help design, plan, or just learn more about the demonstration, we are hosting a community meeting at 6pm next Thursday, February 15 at 3275 W. 14th Ave where you can help us design “drive safe” signage. New neighbors Meow Wolf, the amazing immersive arts organization that is moving to a site just adjacent to the interchange, will be there to help us brainstorm other art ideas. We will also be joined by Denver Public Works pedestrian planner David Pulsipher to talk about the pedestrian connectivity study the City is doing focused on the stadium and light rail.

We will providing pizza, childcare, and translation so we’d love for you to join us! Please share our flyer in English and Spanish and RSVP for the meeting at the link below!

RSVP for the Feb 15 Community Meeting!

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