DENVER — Peña Boulevard has long been the final road that drivers take to Denver International Airport, but the 11.1-mile-long roadway also provides access to growing neighborhoods and businesses.
Now, planners with DIA are working to plan out the future of the road, hoping to improve safety and mobility.
"We served over 69.2 million passengers last year, and for an airport that was originally built for 50 million passengers, that's a lot," said Lisa Nguyen, DIA's principal transportation planner.
Her team is developing a Peña Boulevard Master Plan, starting with a transportation and mobility study. In the meantime, Denver’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI) will conduct a travel study for the Gateway Neighborhood.
The study by Nguyen's team will look at several scenarios, including what the road could look like if a lane were added. The team also will look at different types of lanes, including what's called "managed lanes."
"It's an umbrella that could include several different options," Nguyen said. "One of the really big options that DEN is focused on is looking at a bus and HOV lane. If we make this lane just for the buses and high-occupancy vehicles and folks that are carpooling, what's that going to do? Is that going to determine and help incentivize people to take the bus or maybe to take a shuttle to the mountains and the ski resorts instead of driving on their own?"
Preliminary work already has been done on the road plan, including an examination of airports in London and Amsterdam and a survey of DIA passengers, Nguyen said.
According to the airport, Peña Boulevard does not meet current design standards. That impacts more than just drivers.
"Peña Boulevard doesn't just serve the airport. It serves these neighboring communities," said Nguyen, referring to the Montbello, Gateway and Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods.
These communities are where in-person open houses will be held where residents can learn about the study and provide feedback. Two open houses are scheduled for:
- Thursday, Feb. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Montbello.
- Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Green Valley Ranch.
In the meantime, Nguyen said she hopes to view the plan from an "equity lens."
"It's absolutely essential that we look at who our users are, who's living in those neighborhoods and who's relying on Peña Boulevard to get to and from work, school, recreation and for their transportation network," she said. "Recognizing that these neighborhoods are historically disadvantaged and understanding the equity element and lens of this project is absolutely critical."
The goal as of now is to have the plan completed by the end of 2023.
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