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Driving You Crazy: Why does 13th Ave. in Capitol Hill make that weird jog to the right at Madison Street?

13th Ave at Madison Street
Posted at 5:21 AM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-05 09:09:17-05

Rachel from Denver writes, “What’s driving you crazy? I’d like to ask if you know about the weird jog at 13th and Madison? I live in the neighborhood and all of a sudden for no reason they put in this weird lane shift that makes no sense. We speculate it’s probably for delivery trucks to be able to turn safely but we’re not sure.”

You were on the right track Rachel with your delivery truck hunch. The reason 13th Ave. has solid painted lines that direct traffic to move slightly to the right at Madison Street is to allow the westbound #10 RTD bus to make the tight left turn from 13th Ave. and Madison on its way to 12th Ave.

The first time I was out there, I thought, maybe it had something to do with a parking restriction, but that didn't make much sense for such a small area. When I drove it again, I noticed something that I overlooked the first time. To help RTD drivers, especially new ones or subs know where they should turn along their route, they place arrow symbols like < or > on the nearest pole at the turn. That is what I overlooked the first time. The second time driving through there I noticed the left turn RTD arrow placed on the left side street sign at Madison, and I knew right there that it had to be for the #10 bus.

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The city painted the solid center and side lines as well as the large arrows on the pavement to accomplish two objectives. First, to restrict parking on that short section of 13th Ave. Second, and most importantly, allow for the extra turning room needed for the bus to make the left turn onto Madison and jog down to 12th Ave. RTD tells me from a bus perspective, the new lane configuration does assist in the turning movement.

The reason the bus needs to turn down Madison is because the westbound trip along 9th Ave. turns north on Colorado Boulevard. But since there isn’t a left turn available until 13th Ave., the buses turn there and then use Madison to get back to 12th Ave. and the Capitol Heights shops. The eastbound #10 bus doesn’t have that same limitation, so it goes straight down 12th past Madison to Colorado and turns right on the way to 9th Ave.

Why does 13th Ave make that weird jog to the right at Madison Street?

Denver7 Traffic Expert Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on any podcast app including iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Podbean.