By Allen Cowgill
A section of North Denver’s most deadly road is getting an upgrade. In November, Denver began work on Federal Boulevard upgrades between West 23rd Avenue and West 27th Avenue. The project is expected to last until fall of 2024.
Upgrades will include bulb outs, which shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians; upgraded pedestrian ramps; improved stormwater infrastructure; and a HAWK pedestrian and bike crossing signal at West 25th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
HAWK crossings, nicknamed after “high-intensity activated crosswalk” signals, allow pedestrians and cyclists to press a button that activates a blinking light to stop oncoming traffic.
The project will also include improvements to West 25th Avenue between Federal Boulevard and Eliot Street to make the street more friendly for pedestrians. It includes a chicane, which is a curved section of road intended to slow down drivers, and planter boxes that help improve water quality by filtering water that drains through them.
The project is funded by the Elevate Denver Bond and a Colorado Department of Transportation Safer Main Streets Grant.
Federal Boulevard’s crash rate is 20 times higher than the average urban street in Colorado. The roadway is owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The speed, volume of cars, design of the road, and high concentration of pedestrians and transit users have contributed to making the street one of the deadliest in the state.
The project comes as Denver struggles to reach its Vision Zero goal to reduce deaths due to traffic crashes to zero by the year 2030.
Since 2015, according to Denver’s Vision Zero dashboard, there have been nine fatal crashes on Federal Boulevard. The majority of those killed have been people walking. The section receiving improvements as part of this project did not have any fatal crashes, but it has had two serious bodily injury crashes since 2015.
Also in the plans for Federal Boulevard are future safety improvements that will add a handful of medians in the road between Interstate 70 and West 52nd Avenue and between West 29th Avenue and West 33rd Avenue.
Allen Cowgill is the City Council District 1 appointee to the DOTI Advisory Board, where he serves as the board secretary.