It’s no surprise to NE Denver drivers that Quebec from 6th to 26th avenues was targeted for a study on how to relieve congestion. Travel time for that two-mile stretch currently averages 8.8 minutes. Transportation plans in both 2008 and 2010 identified there is a problem.
“It’s a tough corridor—there are a lot of things to consider. If it were an easy challenge we would have had a solution already. We’ve been back and forth on this for years,” says Cindy Patton, senior transportation planner in Denver’s Public Works Department.
For the past 18 months planners have been looking for a solution that meets these criteria:
- Can be completed in 5–10 years for $20 million or less
- Improves multi-modal access/safety, mobility, connectivity, and
- Respects neighborhood livability and environment
In an ideal world, says Patton, Quebec would be a divided road with a median, four lanes, and turn lanes at intersections—like Monaco Parkway. She says such a project would have cost upwards of $50 million due to the acquisition of a large amount of private property and would have significantly impacted many property owners. That option was taken off the table from the beginning because it didn’t meet the three criteria.
To address traffic backups at intersections, particularly Colfax, 17th, and Montview, one option proposed one lane in each direction with improved intersections that included turn lanes.
This option reduced travel time from 8.8 minutes to 6.8 minutes—but in about 17 years Quebec would be back to the current level of congestion. With that option, 55 parcels of private land would require some degree of acquisition (either purchase or easements).
As the study continued over the 18-month period, it was determined that greater use of the available city right-of-way opened the possibility of four lanes for the entire length of the corridor. And in addition to four lanes, the intersections could be configured with a turn lane.
This alternative is currently believed to offer the most benefit. The full design process will finalize roadway dimensions, costs and exact impact on private property, but at this stage the cost is estimated to be about $24–$25 million. Driving time is projected to be 5.5 minutes and the plan is projected to have a 26-year life before congestion gets back to present levels. It is estimated that about 65 private parcels would require some level of acquisition.
An added benefit to this plan is it could be built in phases if all the money isn’t available at once. Projections show that 73 percent of the time improvement could be accomplished by completing the stretch from 14th to 26th for a cost of about $10 million.
The overall plan also includes improved sidewalks on Quebec as well as a bike lane and improved sidewalks on Syracuse.
At this stage, planners believe only 25 percent of the properties along the corridor would have the roadway move 10 or more feet closer to the buildings (as shown in the illustration above). For 50 percent of properties, the roadway will move closer to the buildings by 5 feet or less. For the remaining properties, the roadway will move 5–10 feet closer.
The next steps are to finalize the report and findings and seek funding for design from federal and local sources so the project will be ready to build when construction funds are available.
Public input will continue to be accepted until there is funding to finalize the plans. Comments can be submitted online at www.denvergov.org/QuebecAlternatives.