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'It’s dangerous': Neighbors plead with Denver leaders to put a crosswalk across Downing St.

Downing and Mexico Intersection
Posted at 8:58 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 22:58:27-05

DENVER — Residents in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood are pushing city leaders to install a supported crosswalk at the intersection of Downing Street and Mexico Avenue.

With an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school nearby, students cross the street daily. But parents feel the intersection doesn’t allow for safe passage.

An entire group of neighbors came out to the intersection Friday afternoon to meet with Denver7 and voice their concerns. They have been pushing for improvements there for years.

“It’s dangerous,” said Liz Ullman. “And I’m wondering why the city is so stingy with their stripes. That’s all we really want. We want a supported crosswalk here.”

“I go to school at the middle school down the road, and on numerous occasions, I’ve almost been hit by cars doing pretty fast,” said student Grant Penner. “I don’t see many cars stop for us. Maybe once every week or two, I’ll have a couple of cars that stop. But other than that, not really.”

Downing Street at Mexico Avenue divides Denver City Councilmember Paul Kashmann’s district from Councilmember Flor Avidrez’s district. Both came out to support their constituents in this push and want to see a crosswalk installed at the intersection.

“I’ve been on council now for a little over eight years, and this is probably the sixth or seventh time I’ve had someone reach out,” Kashmann said.

“All it takes is one accident to happen, and then we’re going to do something about it,” Alvidrez added. “I would really feel a lot better if we could take care of things before that accident happens.”

Both Kashmann and Alvidrez said that improvements to the intersection would support the City of Denver’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths in the city.

Denver7 reached out to Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) about this push. Spokesperson Nancy Kuhn told us their engineers determined the intersection “did not meet the criteria for a crosswalk,” which is based on average pedestrian crossings per hour, existing traffic control measures, proximity to vulnerable destinations such as schools or hospitals, and a history of pedestrian-involved crashes. However, DOTI is planning to use paint and markings to narrow traffic lanes and create a pedestrian refuge in the middle of Downing Street to increase safety for people crossing. A timeline for installation of this should be released soon, Kuhn said.

Neighbors, though, still feel the intersection needs and deserves a crosswalk. They argued the criteria set out by the city prematurely judges the potential impacts of an improved crossing.

“One of the things on the checklist is to have a certain number of people crossing. Well, more people would cross if it weren’t so dangerous,” argued Ruth Wimmer. “They wouldn’t be having their parents drive them to school. They wouldn’t be staying on one side for their recreational walk. They’d be crossing back and forth and enjoying the whole neighborhood and not just half of it. And not risking their lives.”

“I can’t walk to school. I need my mom to drive me because it’s such a problem,” said Vaughn Larson, a student at Grant Beacon Middle School. “I don’t want to get hit. I just want to be able to go to school and have an education.”

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