DPW Says Pedestrian Bridge at 47th and York Coming in 2020

At the same time, however, CDOT plans to make walking more dangerous by widening York Street

Once built, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the railroad tracks at 47th and York will look something like this. Image: City and County of Denver
Once built, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the railroad tracks at 47th and York will look something like this. Image: City and County of Denver

Denver Public Works is moving forward with a walking and biking bridge at 47th Avenue and York Street so people can safely cross a terribly dangerous intersection, which includes a set of freight rail tracks. Waiting for a freight train to pass can disrupt the whole day for people on foot.

“We’ve heard it loud and clear that the trains cause a huge problem for kids trying to get to school, and for other commuters within the neighborhood,” said project manager Mike Hamer at a meeting in the Elyria Swansea Wednesday night. “We’ve heard some complaints that kids have been two hours late.”

The project team estimates that construction will start in about a year and wrap up a year after that.

DPW staff showed some concept drawings of a covered bridge with ramps, not elevators. The project costs about $12 million — $9.4 million from November’s voter-approved bond measure and $2.5 million from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

While the bridge will be a boon for walking and biking in the neighborhood, another CDOT project will put kids walking to school at greater risk.

CDOT plans to widen York with another lane as part of its stubborn insistence on expanding I-70, which will lead to more speeding and longer crossing distances for pedestrians.

Hamer didn’t address the York widening project specifically, but he said DPW will work with CDOT to address safety issues on streets connecting to the bridge, like a segment of missing sidewalk. “The primary focus is on the bridge, but if there are other needs to create those safe crossings, whether it’s York Street or some other street, we’ll incorporate those into the design,” he said.

Chris Pacheco, deputy director of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, said CDOT will employ crossing guards during construction if and when I-70 is expanded.

Car-free bridges can help create a usable street network for walking and biking in areas with obstacles like freight tracks. The railroad isn’t going anywhere, and the bridge will help residents access the school, the library, the Grohaus market, and the rec center without using a car.

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