DENVER — Drivers, bikers and walkers along Broadway in Denver were greeted by a big, flashing alert Friday: “Roadwork starting.”
Construction on the $14 million “multimodal improvements” for the street, which include a two-way protected bike lane, improvements to sidewalks and traffic lights, and additional landscaping, launched Friday and will continue for the next 12 to 18 months.
The project has been discussed for at least seven years now. The City of Denver conducted a study on the proposed bikeway with nearby neighborhoods and businesses in 2015, and in 2016 built a test lane on Broadway from Bayaud to Virginia to test the model. Biking advocates have been pushing for improvements to biking infrastructure for years, as they told Denver7 last month.
“It’s not a comfortable ride,” e-biker Luchia Brown said of biking down Broadway. “There’s no protection at all. Anybody can change lanes. People shout at you.”
“This has been a conversation for many years,” said Luke Johnson, president of the Broadway Merchants Association. “By and large, business owners are happy to see this conversation finished. And most importantly, this is an infrastructure improvement that will last for the next century of the city — and that is a new era for Broadway. So yes, there is some apprehension, but overall, I think folks are excited.”
The apprehension from businesses, Johnson said, is largely over traffic congestion during the construction process and a decrease of available on-street parking for customers. The construction begins as businesses head into their busiest season of the year. The Broadway Merchants Association has been working with the City of Denver and Hamon Construction to get a clear understanding for businesses of the potential impacts and timelines for the project.
According to the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), the project will be completed in three phases. Phase one, beginning this month, will upgrade traffic signals and sidewalks along the west side of Broadway, from 7th Avenue to Center Avenue. Phase two will bring similar upgrades to the east side of the street, as well as install the two-way protected bike lane. Phase three will conclude the project with landscaping enhancements and striping of the street. The city anticipates this to happen by fall 2023.
“It is the hope of many businesses on Broadway that this bike lane will bring more foot traffic, more bicycles, more pedestrians, and more business to the businesses on Broadway,” Johnson said.