Why Federal Boulevard Is Denver’s Deadliest Street — And How to Fix It

The Colorado Department of Transportation and Denver Public Works know how to fix it, but will they?

Federal Boulevard cerca de la Avenida Kentucky. Imagen: Google Maps
Federal Boulevard cerca de la Avenida Kentucky. Imagen: Google Maps

Drivers killed 14 people walking on Denver streets in 2017. Half of these fatal collisions happened on Federal Boulevard.

Take a look at WalkDenver’s new report and it’s no wonder why. Federal Boulevard is designed like a highway but cuts through residential neighborhoods and carries large numbers of bus riders.

WalkDenver has been pushing the Colorado Department of Transportation and Denver Public Works to fix Federal now, not later. After another year with an obscene death toll, the organization is putting out a call to action.

“With a traffic fatality rate 20 times the average for urban streets in Colorado, Federal Boulevard presents a serious public health problem,” said WalkDenver Associate Director Jill Locantore. “We know how to make Federal safer for everyone, and there’s no excuse for failing to act quickly. People’s lives are at stake.”

Here’s the summary from WalkDenver breaking down the public safety threat of Federal Boulevard by the numbers (data is from 2012 to 2017):

Image: WalkDenver
Image: WalkDenver

To save lives, WalkDenver wants median islands at intersections to make crossing the street less daunting; safe, “high-visibility” mid-block crossings; curb extensions at street corners to shorten crossing distances and compel drivers to turn carefully; and physical barriers with plants or trees in the median to prevent illegal U-turns.

WalkDenver also recommends bus lanes to improve transit service and cut down on dangerous weaving and merging.

Image: WalkDenver
Image: WalkDenver

Policy makers with CDOT and the Hancock administration know how to fix this unacceptable risk to public safety. They have experience using quick, inexpensive street treatments to prioritize pedestrians over speeding cars.

But so far Federal’s disgraceful fatality rate has not triggered a serious policy response. CDOT and DPW should implement traffic calming measures ASAP — not just talk about them.

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