Reimagine the Neighborhood-Destroying Interchange at Colfax and Federal

The cloverleaf interchange at Colfax and Federal. Image: Google Maps
The cloverleaf interchange at Colfax and Federal. Image: Google Maps

The cloverleaf at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard is no lucky charm — it’s a barrier between neighborhoods that locals and advocates want to tear down.

“If you happen to be on foot or on a bike, you can’t cross it,” said Lisa Saenz, president of the Sun Valley Local Resident Council.

The elevated structure, which is the property of Colorado DOT, cuts right through the Sun Valley and West Colfax neighborhoods. Now WalkDenver and the West Colfax Business Improvement District are looking to remake the interchange on a more human scale with a campaign called Over the Colfax Clover, starting with a community meeting on Thursday.

City initiatives like the Federal Boulevard Corridor Study have identified the cloverleaf as a barrier, but that’s usually where the discussion ends. The new campaign aims to push CDOT and city leaders to fund and implement the removal, and at the very least a redesign, of the archaic structure.

“It’s completely out of place,” said WalkDenver Executive Director Gosia Kung. “It’s out of context for an urban area.”

A rough rendering of how an at-grade intersection might look. Image: Design Workshop
A rough rendering of how an at-grade intersection might look. Image: Design Workshop

There are plenty of places to walk to nearby — the RTD Decatur-Federal light rail and bus transfer station, schools, health centers, Corky Gonzalaz Library, Broncos Stadium. But the cloverleaf makes the area completely hostile to school kids to walk or catch the bus. The elevated interchange only works for people in cars.

There’s not even a traffic-related justification for a piece of highway infrastructure in this location. The cloverleaf carries about 8,000 fewer vehicles each weekday than the at-grade intersection of Colfax and Colorado Boulevard, according to Denver Public Works.

The cloverleaf also consumes about 29 acres of public land that could be used for homes or other community assets instead, said Kung. WalkDenver and the West Colfax BID are planning to throw a block party of sorts under one of the “leaves” this summer to demonstrate the possibilities.

The meeting is Thursday, March 16, at 6 p.m. at 3275 W. 14th Ave, second floor. The organizers will have childcare, food, and interpretation available. Here’s the flyer in English and Spanish.

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