West 38th Avenue to Get Enhancements

By Allen Cowgill

The public is invited to suggest improvements for the stretch of West 38th Avenue from Fox Street to Sheridan Boulevard. Pictured here, a westward view of 38th from Inca Street, near Fox. Photo by Kathryn White

In the coming years, West 38th Avenue will look a bit different on a 3-mile stretch between Sheridan Boulevard and Fox Street. 

The road has been identified for improvements for safety; better biking, walking and transit; and green infrastructure. On Feb. 15, Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) kicked off a year-long community engagement, planning and design process with a public meeting. Around 100 people showed up for the meeting on Zoom.

West 38th Avenue is on Denver’s high-injury network, or the small percentage of city streets that account for a disproportionate number of injuries. Since September 2018, there have been 23 serious injury crashes and six fatal crashes on West 38th. 

Two of the six fatalities were pedestrians and one was bicyclist Logan Rockline, who was killed in a December 2022 hit-and-run while on his way to dinner. 

The project hopes to address these safety issues with new infrastructure and improvements to the road, especially for pedestrians, transit users and people who bike. 

In addition to crashes, residents called out that the street can just be uncomfortable for pedestrians. The current walking environment on the street is less than great. With sidewalks that are often substandard in terms of width, positioned uncomfortably close to the road and are often covered in snow during the winter when plows push snow from the road onto them. One meeting participant, Ken Auge, mentioned “someone almost ran over my 90-year-old mother at 38th and Tennyson.” 

During the meeting, widening sidewalks and improving bus stops were the highest priorities attendees indicated in an online poll. Various residents also mentioned a desire for red light and speed cameras to make the street safer.

Residents will have two more opportunities to give their input at public meetings. The next one will be this summer, when DOTI planners will discuss potential tradeoffs and gather input for potential design options. Based on that input, in the fall or winter DOTI will present a preferred design alternative for the corridor for residents to comment on. Near-term, low-cost, quick-build changes will start to show up on the avenue as early as 2025.

In terms of mobility, West 38th Avenue has been identified for an upgrade to a bus rapid transit corridor (BRT). It will join streets like Federal and East Colfax, where dedicated lanes and improved bus stops will allow buses to move more quickly. 

Today the 38 RTD bus runs east-west along the corridor and serves as the main connection into downtown. Planners have identified the stops at Sheridan Boulevard and Federal Boulevard to be the two busiest in terms of daily boardings because they intersect with other high volume bus routes. 

Jason Miller, one of the consultants on the project from Fehr & Peers, discussed that RTD route 38 has problems with on-time performance. They like to see 80% or higher on-time performance. The 38 was greater than four minutes late nearly 70% of the time during the afternoon rush hour. Dedicated BRT would increase on-time performance, allowing buses to go around vehicle traffic in a dedicated lane. That said, residents may have to wait a few more decades as planners indicated BRT won’t be ready until the 2030s or potentially even the 2040s.

DOTI is requesting community input through an online survey that is open through March 31. It can be found at bit.ly/w38thavesurvey

Residents who want to be kept up to speed on the project can sign up for email updates by following this link. They may also contact DOTI project manager Phoebe Fooks at phoebe.fooks@denvergov.org with any questions.

Allen Cowgill is the City Council District 1 appointee to the DOTI Advisory Board, where he serves as the board co-chair.

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