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Sale of downtown rail yard could change the look of Denver transportation

Right now, I-25 is pinched between a river and a railroad but with Burnham Yard, the highway could expand, the railroad could move and there's room for development.

DENVER — An historic rail yard located near Empower Field at Mile High has been officially purchased by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and will allow for transportation improvements through central Denver. 

Burnham Yard, located east of Interstate 25 between West Sixth and West Eighth avenues, dates back to 1871. 

It is just over a mile long and has two dozen buildings on the property – CDOT said it will help work on critical infrastructure needs. 

“Burnham Yard is a transformational transit property for our state and can help Colorado meet our goals for making housing more affordable, commutes shorter and our air cleaner,” Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said in a news release.

CDOT have been planning to purchase the rail yard since 2019, along with trying to secure federal grants and loans that were unsuccessful. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and declining revenues shut down the deal. 

RELATED: Sale of old Denver railyard could mean moving I-25, new rail lines and vertical development

“This purchase represents a down payment on a multimodal, sustainable transportation future along the Front Range," CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said. "This strategically located parcel is important for both transportation and economic development, which is why multiple agencies including CDOT and OEDIT have worked together on its purchase."

CDOT will pay $50 million for the property owned by Union Pacific Railroad – along with the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) and the OEDIT each pitching in $7.5 million. The rest of the financing will go through a bank loan.  

CDOT will determine what parts of the property will be used for transportation improvements – and work with Denver planning officials and the community to determine how to use the remaining land. 

RELATED: Newly-configured I-70 reopens in Denver after historic shift

RELATED: Lincoln Street into downtown Denver gets new configuration

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