Here Are the Transportation Projects Mayor Hancock Wants to Fund With the November Bond

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

Mayor Michael Hancock finalized his list of projects he wants to see funded by a bond initiative Denverites will vote on in November, and a lot of good walking, biking, and transit projects made the cut. But so did $101 million for road maintenance that should be handled by routine annual budgeting, not a special bond — about 24 percent of all transportation funding on the list [PDF].

In total, the Hancock administration will ask voters to fund $937 million worth of projects citywide, $415 million of which currently relates to transportation. Now the project list is in the hands of the Denver City Council, which will make any final adjustments before it heads to voters.

Overall, Hancock improved on the list that a project selection committee recommended to him last month, adding $40 million for walking, biking, and transit projects. Among the changes are $14 million more for East Colfax crosswalks, traffic-calming, and other streetscape improvements.

Here are the other projects Hancock restored to the funding list:

  • $8.4 million for a pedestrian-oriented overhaul of Colorado Boulevard and Buchtel Boulevard at Colorado Station
  • $7 million for bicycle and pedestrian connections between Auraria Campus and downtown
  • $5 million for pedestrian safety fixes to Hampden Avenue
  • $3.7 million for walking and biking connections to the High Line Canal
  • $1.2 million for pedestrian safety fixes around the Yale RTD station
  • $1 million for bike lane and sidewalk improvements to Yale Avenue

Hancock’s list also includes major projects that have remained in line for funding throughout the process. The amounts have changed, however. In general, Hancock is recommending more funding for walking, biking, and transit than the executive committee that issued recommendations to him, but less than the transportation subcommittee that took the first hack at prioritizing different projects.

Here’s a look at how the funding levels for major projects in Hancock’s list compare to what the transportation subcommittee initially suggested:

  • $55 million for Colfax bus rapid transit (same)
  • $18 million for protected bike lanes citywide (down from $30 million for building out the bike network)
  • $30.7 million for sidewalks citywide (down from 41.9 million)
  • $12 million for protected bike lanes and transit lanes on the Broadway corridor (down from $22 million)
  • $9.8 million for transit signal priority, queue jumps, bus bulbs and bypass lanes, and better bus stops/shelters on Federal Boulevard from 38th to Evans (same)

On the down side, the ill-advised $27 million widening of 56th Avenue made the cut. And the $101 million for road repairs — the same amount recommended to Hancock by the executive committee — is still a huge chunk of the overall pot for transportation. While road maintenance is very necessary, it’s a core function of city government and should be paid for by the general fund, not a special bond intended for transformational projects.

Still, the vast majority of projects on this list prioritize people, not cars, and Hancock has moved the allocation of funds closer to the transportation committee’s original vision.

City Council members will meet in public to review the projects with city staffers July 17 and 24. Council will then meet August 7 and 14 to consider the final package before finalizing the list that Denverites will vote on.

Here’s the full list of transportation projects recommended by Hancock:

Mayor Hancock's final list of transportation projects. Image: Denver Department of Finance
Table: Denver Department of Finance
  • TakeFive

    Hancock blew the top off the Bond Package and blew me away as well. Never expected this.

    A small point of clarification that the Denver Business Journal also missed.
    The total of all listed projects comes to $887,418,500. The $415,542,500 in transportation projects reflects 47% of that total; the DBJ stated 44%. The $50 million for Contingency Funds presumably for cost overruns might be spent along that same percentage – or not?

  • RobertChase

    I would like so see an even more ambitious plan to build infrastructure for safe cycling, but the proposal would at least start to implement Denver Moves. We need physically-separated bike paths, but using parked cars as a barrier is simply dangerous; vehicles turning across bike paths at driveways and pedestrians crossing make it unsafe to ride down the temporary bike path on Broadway at speed and drivers make right turns Downtown across the bike path without regard for the presence of bicycles.

    $55 million of the bond is to go for “Colfax Transit Implementation (Auraria to Yosemite Street) – Bus Rapid Transit” — that is a misrepresentation; there is no plan to implement
    true Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) anywhere in RTD’s service area! BRT has two essential elements: preboarding, or the readying of passengers for immediate departure when buses pull up (by staging them in fare-paid areas at the level of bus doors) and busways, which are dedicated, physically-separated lanes of travel, and the Colfax plan involves neither. RTD, the Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio, other media — they need to be shamed into dropping this deliberate (on RTD’s part; the rest can claim incompetence) misrepresentation of its service. RTD does not have what the rest of the world knows as Bus Rapid Transit, nor does it plan to build any, so stop helping RTD lie about its bus service!

    P.S. If you contribute to CPR and agree that we shouldn’t pretend we’re getting something we aren’t, please tell its management to stop describing RTD routes as BRT; I can get no further with them than having them point me back to RTD’s misrepresentations; either deliberately or incompetently, they refuse to acknowledge that the phrase has a commonly-accepted meaning and that RTD is misusing it. It is so easy to do at least cursory reasearch in the age of the Internet though!

    • red123

      Couldn’t agree more on the BRT comments. Let’s call a spade a spade. This is enchanced bus service but nowhere close to BRT.

      • RobertChase

        Thanks — see above for the polar opposite point of view; that boosters should be allowed to use the phrase to describe service markedly inferior to BRT, because they want to use it as a means of selling that inferior service. I boggle.

    • surly trucker

      I totally hear you about right turning vehicles. I’ve been pushing for a separate crossing light phase at Colfax and Speer for years. Every day drivers turning North on Speer from Westbound Colfax (a double turn for added danger) fail to yield..every. day.

      • RobertChase

        Why don’t we cite more of Denver’s scofflaw drivers? It costs money, but here is a proposal to spend $937 million and the issue is still not even mentioned — there seems to be some kind of collective determiniation to ignore it.

    • TakeFive

      lololololololololol – I can’t believe you’re harassing CPR over their using the term BRT when that’s what RTD uses – with good reason.

      It’s a fair point that if you’re expecting something comparable to what you’d find in Curitiba or Bogota, you won’t find find it in the U.S.. To date, the best BRT in the states would be Cleveland’s Healthline which is the only BRT to receive even a silver rating from The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. http://www.riderta.com/news/healthline-named-best-brt-usa For a more Amerianized defintion ACTransit does a nice job and there’s a transit glossary as well. http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3_-_Land_Use_Division/ACTransit_MCS_Investment_Strategies.pdf

      In any case RTD’s 2016 presentation adequately explains why they call their proposed project BRT. https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/705/documents/projects/ColfaxCorridor/colfax-jan2016-meeting-presentation.pdf

      AFAIK, RTD intends to have dedicated lanes (during Rush/peak hours), off-board ticketing, all-door boarding and real-time tracking. If you want to understand why they won’t have all-day dedicated lanes then you’ll have to check out the Colfax Alternatives Analysis Chapter 6 Screen 3 Analysis and Results. Focus on the Total Person Trip Analysis. ( http://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/705/documents/projects/ColfaxCorridor/Colfax-AA-Report-Chapter6-Screen-3-Analysis-and-Results.pdf ) IIRC, the upshot was that all-day dedicated lanes made only a very minor benefit to bus ridership while the difference in total person trips was noticeably higher with only rush hour dedicated lanes. The decision was made easy with this analysis not to mention the merchant stakeholders were much happier.

      • TakeFive

        Robert Chase… I understand that Eugene OR has had success with their BRT. Since your a bit of BRT Connoisseur tell me what your think?

      • RobertChase

        Nothing surprises me anymore — of course out of the legions of the clueless, there are a few people with some understanding of the issues — but they are all apologists for and enablers of the liars. You are an exemplar of the latter. CPR’s dysfunctional editors should get down on their hands and knees to thank you for giving them a complete pass on knowing about what they report, so that they can get on with the business of pushing the Establishment’s agenda.

        RTD is deliberately falsifying the nature of its Flatiron Flyer and the proposed service on Colfax because it likes the sound of “Bus Rapid Transit” and is determined to use the phrase promotionally. CPR (and other media) want to project an image of Denver as a progressive place with wise governance, so they play along. I have aspirations for transit; I have expectations of people — that they learn and use English properly, e.g. The meaning of the phrase “Bus Rapid Transit” is taken; anyone can easily learn that definition in a matter of minutes by using the Internet. You seem to think that the definitions of terms is purely a matter of choice and that you, RTD, CPR, etc. are perfectly justified in ignoring the unambiguous, agreed upon meaning of Bus Rapid Transit to assert one so much weaker that the distinction between BRT and ordinary bus service is lost. You seem to be asserting that America’s lack of BRT means that we should assert a completely debased and parochial definition — because boosters want to. Perfectly idiotic. You show me a video below of what appears to be a system much closer to that used in Curitiba and ask me what I think; I think that if you want effective bus service, you had better stop enabling those who want to substitute inferior and call it BRT anyway!

        • TakeFive

          I don’t doubt that I’ve mellowed over the many decades but giving me the enabler moniker went right over my head but it’s unimportant. Can;t speak to CPR as I listen to KJZZ which is in my area. I would guess that while being better than so many other outlets CPR is still mostly reading news releases and I doubt any of them are transit experts.

          You are welcome ofc to cling to your own High standards but it seems in the states, organizations like the FTC, APTA and many transit agencies use a more tolerant definition for BRT. No doubt the name sounding sexy is an enticement. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy uses different standards for different levels of BRT service when they grade (so-called) BRT systems.

          I’m comfortable going with the flow; you’re not; and so it goes.

          • RobertChase

            The names we give things are critical for communicating about them; words matter. If we hope to make progress, we need to communicate effectively. Colorado is in dire need of higher standards when it comes to communicating; as an example, consider the inadvertent legalization of texting while driving and the cutting of over $500,000 monthly of State support for RTD, the Zoo, and museums this legislative session caused by errors in using English on the part of career lawyers at the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS). The bloopers both hit the news; the funding mistake even elicited a call for a special legislative session (expensive) to deal with the problem before next year, but no one has so much as mentioned the role of the OLLS in drafting legislation — more problems communicating and thinking.

            You keep trying to turn the discussion to the circumstances on Colfax and the options available — that is an entirely different subject than what BRT is. I explicitly indicated why the proposed service on Colfax is not BRT: “BRT has two essential elements: preboarding, or the readying of passengers for immediate departure when buses pull up (by staging them in fare-paid areas at the level of bus doors) and busways, which are dedicated, physically-separated lanes of travel, and the Colfax plan involves neither”. I may have erred in definitively ruling out preboarding on Colfax, but it is not in use on the Flatiron Flyer and I have seen no indication that it will be introduced for the Colfax service.

          • TakeFive

            Busway:

            a road, or section of a road, set apart exclusively for buses, typically with tracks or grooves for guiding them.

            That would be virtually impossible to retrofit on Colfax. And the HOV lane on 36 is just as good. I get the Flatiron Flyer but that is not where the conversation started. Off-board ticketing and all-door boarding is just as efficient as having a cattle pen entrance. You seem to have a So American BRT picture tattooed on your brain. LOL You obviously care not that U.S. respected transit organization have a different definition of BRT from your own. http://www.actransit.org/customer/transit-glossary/

          • RobertChase

            There you go again, trying to change the subject from what BRT is to whether or not it is impossible here! As for the HOV lane on Plenary 36 being “just as good” as a busway, that is pure BS — RTD wouldn’t have had to get the General Assembly to change the law to permit buses to drive on the shoulder (when the HOV lane is blocked) if that were true. You keep debasing the meaning of words to suit your purposes; I’ll keep militating for clear communication. You are a champion of mediocrity.

            P.S. Glad you managed to find the definition of “busway”; sorry that you can’t seem to understand it.

    • Joseph Meyer

      Perhaps we should also enforce traffic laws on cyclists. Other than speeding, car drivers don’t routinely violate traffic laws. Cyclists, on the other hand, routinely run stop signs and lights, ride on sidewalks, ride in crosswalks, ride the wrong way on one way streets. In fact, it is unusual to see a cyclist who is not breaking the law.

      It is a fair question as to whether millions of dollars of infrastructure would improve cyclist safety as much as would sufficient enforcement to convert cyclists from scofflaws to law-abiding citizens of the road.

      • RobertChase

        Idiotic! When drivers violate pedestrians and cyclists’ right of way, they all too often kill or seriously injure them; when pedestrians and cyclists violate drivers’ right of way, they often pay a penalty far more severe than those attached to traffic offenses. The point is to increase safety, not compliance per se.

        • Joseph Meyer

          You don’t lend credence to your position with your ad hominem opening salvo. Your reliance on words like “idiotic,” “insane nonsense,” “outrageously false,” “flippant failure,”” ignorant,” and “arrogant” does not make you sound like a clear-thinking, thoughtful individual; it makes you sound angry and reactive, not characteristics helpful as we attempt to share the road. And you don’t get to excuse that kind of rhetoric on the basis that it is “accurate,” so you had to use it.

          You fail to distinguish between the stakes and odds. The obviously greater consequences to a cyclist in the event of a collision with a car do not absolve the cyclist from the responsibility to follow traffic rules, or the consequences of not having done so.

          I don’t claim that drivers never violate the law. But I almost never see a cyclist who is NOT violating the law. And before you again accuse me of ignorance, I have covered many thousands of miles on o bicycle, in fourteen states and ten countries. So save it.

          How do you propose that we enforce the achievement of safety, rather than “compliance with the law per se”? The law is the only thing we have to enforce, and we have laws to promote safer.

          Personally, I would apply the word “arrogance” to those who consider themselves above the law, who feel no responsibility to contribute to a predictable, orderly environment on the road, because they are more vulnerable to injury, or because they are so smart they don’t need to follow the rules to be safe, or because of a low “carbon footprint.”

          So continue to blame drivers exclusively for all unfortunate encounters with cyclists, absolve cyclists of all responsibility for their own well-being or adherence to the rules of the road, and demand millions of dollars worth of infrastructure that disrupts traffic patterns for the vehicles whose owners pay the gas taxes. If anyone disagrees with you, you can always resort to abusive rhetoric.

          • RobertChase

            I do dish out a lot of ad hominem, with cause. I find it incredible that someone who claims to have covered thousands of miles by bike and lives in Denver could possibly suppose that cyclists are killing themselves — I think that that bespeaks poor observational skills and a lack of acquaintance with what facts are reported about local collisions (which admittedly are scant); there are frequent reports of hit and run accidents. I did not lay all blame on drivers, but the evidence clearly points to their disproportionate responsibility. In referring to the consequences of right of way violations, I omitted “for others” above — drivers violating the right of way of pedestrians and cyclists kill pedestrians and cyclists; pedestrians and cyclists who violate drivers’ right of way kill themselves. There is every reason to prioritze enforcement of traffic violations by motorists, not only because they are more culpable in the rising tide of death and injury, but because their misconduct affects others far and away more than that of cyclists and pedestrians. We should change the traffic laws to grant cyclists the right to yield instead of stop, but we should not have to change the law to penalize the most dangerous and egregious misconduct on the roads first.

            Your attitude smacks of situational ethics; when you were younger, you rode a bike; now, you (I suppose) go everywhere by car and your concern is exclusively for your own convenience. Have you forgotten entirely that cyclists have a better view of traffic than motorists? Intelligence and carbon footprints have absolutely nothing to do with it. Motorists have to get out of their cars and cross streets on foot, and it’s hard to imagine how any moderately observant person who does so with any frequency in Denver could not have witnessed drivers running lights; at least some of the pedestrians dying at intersections drove too — motorists themselves have an interest in the enforcement of traffic laws against other motorists. Our haphazard infrastructure was not designed for the safety of cyclists or pedestrians — some of the bond is going for the construction of sidewalks — and it is long past the time that Denver address the safety of its residents, virtually all of whom mustfrequently get out of their cars and walk (or trundle) across streets. Your insinuation that drivers payment of gas taxes justifies not building infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists makes no sense, both because motorists are pedestrians themselves and because Denver has a direct interest in more people using bicycles for local travel — lest vehicle congestion impede their movement about the City or taxpayers be faced with the need for projects to improve roads costing many times the relative pittance proposed to be spent on beginning to make Denver safe for cycling.

          • Gil-galad

            Robert, you won’t convince anyone with that rhetoric. It may be justified, but it’s not useful on any level.

            In response to the OP, I’m not sure bicycles need to be subjected to the same traffic laws as cars. Some cities have specifically made laws allowing bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs, and I think it makes sense. Cyclists have a lot more situational awareness than cars, and pay a much higher cost if they get hit.

            I also don’t think restrictive traffic laws help anything at all. I was recently in Norway, and all the small neighborhood streets are marked with yield signs, rather than stop signs (for cars and bicycles).

          • RobertChase

            I don’t know what Norway has to do with Denver’s failure to enforce “restrictive traffic laws” (as opposed to permissive ones?); one of my points is that Denver’s dangerous drivers are killing pedestrians and cyclists wrongfully. You offer zero support for your belief that enforcement has no effect on driving behavior and it is at variance with the facts; it is however completely consistent with my characterization of the failure to enforce basic rules of the road (which are embodied in Colorado’s “restrictive traffic laws”) as being foremost a psychological problem rather than a fiscal one. Not only does your belief fly in the face of the evidence and common sense, you also offer no suggestion as to some other means of deterring dangerous driving other than the enforcement of “restrictive traffic laws” (most of which have been on the books for a very long time). You are obviously well-defended against effective rhetoric and my engaging in ad hominem on top of the damning evidence of your own words would be gilding the lilly.

          • Gil-galad

            No, no, I agree with your basic points. I was perhaps too vague. I was citing an idea developed in Europe which argues that removing lane markings and traffic control signs causes drivers to drive slower and pay more attention. See here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/04/removal-road-markings-safer-fewer-accidents-drivers

            Thus I was disputing the OP’s argument that making cyclists stop at stop signs would increase safety. Safety has a lot more to do with situational awareness than obeying the rules of the road.

            Regarding rhetoric: Just tone it down. I am genuinely impressed with your mastery of the English language (no sarcasm). But beautiful phrasing and masterful insults alone do not make for effective rhetoric. You’ve got to try to relate to your audience, to find some common ground. This is known as the ethical appeal, and it is necessary since human beings are emphatically not rational beings.

      • SammyDEEEE

        “In fact, it is unusual to see a cyclist who is not breaking the law.”

        This is sheer lunacy.

        You don’t get to whine about someone else’s ad hominem attacks when you paint with such a broad brush yourself. And claiming that car drivers “don’t routinely violate traffic laws” other than speeding is preposterous. I could go out my front door today, walk to 26th and Downing, and see a driver break a law every 5 minutes from now until the sun goes down.

        I’m likely to see zero cyclists do the same.

        • Joseph Meyer

          Sorry. Almost every time I see a cyclist at a light, he runs it. Does every car you see do that? I almost never see a cyclist who doesn’t do something illegal. I cannot say that about drivers.

          • james

            I am not going to breath your exhaust fumes. Sit at the light in your car or ride a bike and go! There is nothing wrong or unsafe with slowly crossing the light if its clear, in fact it much safer for a cyclist to do that, then wait for the cars to stampede over them. As my dad always said, its better to be alive then on the right side of the law.

  • McGillicudy

    I’m glad the Colfax bus funding is going through at the recommended level. The debate over whether to call it BRT or not seems fairly abstract at best. I don’t think BRT is some particularly compelling acronym to the general public, nor even the phrase “Bus Rapid Transit.” Honestly I’d prefer we all just focus on whether it seems like a good or bad project, given the actual scope. I think dedicated travel lanes and more frequent buses during rush hour sounds like a good way to make taking the bus on Colfax more attractive and move more people during rush hour. To me it’s a good project on balance, regardless of what you wanna call it. To be against it because it’s not “true” BRT…what’s the endgame there?

  • SammyDEEEE

    STILL no updates on finishing the D-line to get past its dead end at 30th and Downing, huh?

    What a disappointment.

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