DENVER — Traffic is backing up at an intersection where anyone could have predicted a traffic backup.
The 9+Co Construction project, near 8th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, is now bleeding over onto 8th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.
Since May 6, the developer has blocked off the right lane of traffic on northbound Colorado Boulevard from 8th to 9th Avenues. The right lane of westbound 8th Avenue approaching Colorado Boulevard is also blocked.
Those lanes will remain closed until July 20.
"My restriction is generally not to drive my car at all between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.," said Daniel Kinderlehrer. "It's just a mess. Everything takes twice or three times as long. I usually turn off around 4th or 5th [Avenue] because traffic just backs up for lights at a time."
He was enjoying a drink at Steep Tea & Coffee, which has a front row window view of the traffic backup on 8th Avenue.
"Right now, it is what? Noon. And traffic's backed up even though this is far from a peak hour," said Kinderlehrer.
The developer must pay a steep price to keep the lanes closed.
For the two-and-a-half month closure, the city received $90,000.
"I didn't get anything in my mail today or any other day. Where does that $90,000 go?" said Kinderlehrer.
"We’re able to use that money to repair potholes, pave the streets, do all the things that we do to help improve the quality of life in Denver," said Denver Public Works spokeswoman Heather Burke.
It turns out closing a lane of Colorado Boulevard is no different than closing a lane of Speer Boulevard, or Grant or Logan Streets.
"Those are streets that see more than 3,000 vehicles per day," said Burke. "For an arterial and a collector, it ranges between 3,000 to 14,000 vehicles per day.”
The city treats collector and arterial streets the same. Closing a lane of traffic on a road that sees 3,000 vehicles a day is charged the same rate as a road that sees 14,000 vehicles a day. Residential roads get charged one-third the rate.
"Denver Public Works is looking at that fee structure, though, to see if it should be updated based on the current demands for construction within the public right-of-way," said Burke. "Our goal is to keep people moving safely and we don’t want to contractors impacting commuters, especially during peak travel times.”
"While we understand the lane closures will be an inconvenience, the improvements will improve traffic flow and everyone’s experience at 9+CO. These improvements are focused on improving the pedestrian experience and keeping foot traffic away from the busy-ness of Colorado Boulevard," said 9+Co spokeswoman Alana Watkins.
Watkins said that when the work is complete, the roadways will actually be friendlier to drivers.
Northbound Colorado Boulevard will have an acceleration and deceleration lane between 8th and 9th Avenues. Westbound 8th Avenue will have a dedicated right turn lane, in addition to the two through lanes of 8th Avenue.
The development will include a movie theater, restaurants, park space and additional apartments and townhomes.
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