Vehicular Traffic and The Congress Park Neighborhood of Denver

As a broker on behalf of clients I have been looking at opportunities in the Congress Park neighborhood of Denver, CO. An area I define as 6th Avenue on the south, Colfax Avenue on the north, York Street on the west and Colorado Boulevard on the east. Within the boundaries are unique enclaves including the areas between 6th and 8th Avenues (both one ways) and north of 12th Avenue where higher density multi-family structures are more common.

My clients are most attracted to the streets radiating off of 7th Avenue Parkway, a majestic street dominated by a center median with mature landscaping and pre-WWII homes of some would argue estate proportions facing the avenue.

Yet one concern is the future impacts concerning the redevelopment of the former CU Health Sciences Center. The redevelopment calls for a mixed-use urban oriented project including commercial and residential development. While the former hospital and medical school did generate vehicular activity for the most part the traffic was confined to work hours. The new development will undoubtedly generate additional car-trips due to the mix of uses proposed for the site.

The concern I shared with my clients, 6th Avenue is a one-way east-bound from downtown and 8th Avenue is a one-way from Colorado Boulevard west into downtown. While traffic calming measures have been put in place within the last decade including on-street parking and other measures the reality is both Avenues will be the preferred conduit between former CU Health Sciences Center and downtown.

7th Avenue historically has traffic calming measures in place including stop signs and other impediments to dissuade cut-through traffic. Yet 6th and 8th Avenues and their one-way orientation date back to the McNichols administration which believed an efficient city was one which transported its workers in and out as efficient as possible.

Yet times and traffic patterns have changed. During the last 20+ years we have witnessed a resurgence concerning “inner-city” and “close-in” neighborhood demand. It is not uncommon in Congress Park to witness bungalows being expanded both vertically and horizontally.

Maybe it is time we collectively consider additional traffic calming on 6th and 8th Avenues (and possibly expand to 13th and 14th Avenues). The reality is we will see an increase in vehicular traffic on those avenues just by redevelopment east of Colorado Boulevard. As increased vehicular use will naturally slow traffic down, we need to consider measures to dissuade cut-through traffic AND preservation of the existing urban fabric.

Now is the time to investigate and install such measures now before the impacts are upon us and “the genie is out of the bottle”. If we collectively can be proactive versus reactive to the coming onslaught of traffic and congestion we have a better change of insuring our quality of life and preservation of the urban fabric which makes Congress Park so desirable.

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