Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca is advocating for a study to look at improvements to Josephine and York Streets north of 40th Avenue. CdeBaca wants to see both streets converted from one-way streets into two-way streets, to make them safer and more livable for the neighborhood. In particular, she wants to see Josephine made to be safer for pedestrians and people on bikes, with sidewalks and bike lanes allowing residents to connect to the south. York would be kept as the truck route, to keep freight trucks on the edge of the neighborhood instead of through the middle of the neighborhood. By comparison, Josephine has about 50 homes on the street south of the interstate, while York only has a handful. “We should be doing everything we can to keep the semi-trucks on the periphery of the neighborhood rather than inside of it.”
CdeBaca noted that “we’re the most neglected part of town when it comes to safety around multimodal transportation options, specifically, pedestrian friendly options. We’re still the part of town that has the highest concentration of a lack of curb, gutters, and sidewalk.” In particular, she noted there are very few safe connections for residents that need or want to walk and bike to get south of 40th Avenue. “I want to raise kids in this neighborhood, I want to be OK with letting them walk to the park, or walk to different amenities that are popping up now. Even the 39th Avenue Greenway, I would love to walk to that and feel safe, and there are not a lot of options to do that.” Josephine currently does not have a sidewalk that connects all the way to the south. Currently there are no bike lanes that connect any part of Elyria-Swansea to the rest of Denver on the south, though Clayton Street has been designated as a potential future bike route.
The biggest pushback CdeBaca has seen from the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) is the desire to accommodate freight traffic. But CdeBaca feels that a conversion would be in the interest of freight traffic. “The conversion to two-way does serve their facility better, because it would allow them to turn both directions on York Street, and York Street only.”
CdeBaca has requested a study to be done for these changes for the last two years in office, and has been told there is no funding for it. “At this point it’s about putting pressure on the Mayor and DOTI. That can look a range of different ways. That can be people showing up to Mayor Council, that can be people writing emails to the Mayor’s office and DOTI. That can be people showing up to the DOTI Transportation Advisory Board meeting, pressure on social media. At the very micro level, joining our District 9 Multimodal Transportation Stakeholder Group.”
Drew Dutcher, President of the Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood Association, liked the idea from a safety perspective. “It calms traffic and also helps businesses there.” He noted that converting one-way streets to two-way streets also helps small businesses along the street by making them more accessible. He has seen it done in other parts of Denver with success. “I think the city should probably study this.” Dutcher noted that this would be in line with the Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood Plan, which called for making Josephine more accessible for pedestrians and people on bikes.
He did express concerns that historically the wishes of the neighborhood have been superseded by the highway. “The neighborhood voice is always drowned out by the highway interest, and its service to moving trucks around through these neighborhoods. It’s really a tough situation. The loudest voices in the room are always the truck lobby and the highway interest. The city has never really listened to residents of this neighborhood. I wish it would change.”
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