Jeffrey from Commerce City writes, “Why in the world is there not an on-ramp to westbound Pena between 81st & 72nd on Tower Road? Drivers have to travel all the way down to 56th to access west-bound Pena? The only "workaround" is to drive west on Pena and make an illegal u-turn using the "emergency vehicle only" access road. What gives?"
That is a great question Jeffrey. I have wondered that many times myself after parking at one of the long term lots off Tower Road.
That interchange is a tough one because the land is owned and operated by DIA, so Denver and Commerce City leaders had to coordinate with DIA and the Federal Aviation Administration to make sure improvements comply with FAA requirements. And for some reason the FAA had concerns about the amount of non-airport traffic that would then use Peña Boulevard if that ramp was built. That said, Commerce City Public Works is leading the effort with the help from Denver Public Works and DIA, for widening improvements to Tower Road, and adding a connecting ramp from Tower Road to westbound Peña Blvd.
Michelle Halstead, the director of communications & government affairs for the City of Commerce City, told me that construction of the Tower Road on-ramp to westbound Peña Boulevard is expected to begin late 2016/early 2017. They would have the ramp open as soon as they widen Tower Road which has already been voter approved and will be paid for by Commerce City citizens. The total project cost of the on-ramp is $3.5M, funded primarily by E-470. Commerce City is in the process of hiring a consultant to assist them with the federal environmental review and on-ramp design, which should be completed by the end of this year.
Michelle added this historical context to the information she sent me:
The Tower Road/Peña Boulevard interchange was not originally built as part of Peña Boulevard construction (although it was environmentally approved and designed at the time), based on previous intergovernmental agreements with the City & County of Denver. Commerce City paid for the construction of the Tower Road to eastbound Peña Boulevard on-ramp and westbound Peña Boulevard to Tower Road off-ramp in the early 1990s. The eastbound Peña Boulevard off-ramp to Tower Road was added by a metropolitan district. The construction of the final ramp (southbound Tower to westbound Peña) is governed by 1992 intergovernmental agreements between the City and E-470 Highway Authority as well as between Commerce City and Denver. The agreements allowed ramp construction to occur as of 2012, with E-470 paying for the design and construction, while Denver committed to operation and maintenance costs associated with the new ramp.
So bottom line Jeffrey is the ramp will be built, it will just be a couple of years before it is finished.
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