56th Avenue is an important regional arterial, providing both local access and regional mobility in the northeast quadrant of the Denver metro area. It is also one of the few continuous east-west arterials in this area. The transformation of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to a National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the continuing development of Commerce City’s Victory Crossing site and the Stapleton Redevelopment area, have put a renewed focus on the role of 56th Avenue, making the project a priority for Denver and Commerce City.
The City and County of Denver’s strategic land use planning and transportation plans, including Blueprint Denver, recognize this area’s unprecedented new growth. 56th Avenue has become a major arterial for residential and commercial traffic. Major private and public development contributing to this traffic growth in recent years includes:
Through a series of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) between Commerce City and Denver, completed in conjunction with the development of Victory Crossing (formerly Prairie Gateway), Denver has assumed responsibility for the funding and construction of all 56th Avenue improvements between Quebec Street and Peña Boulevard. This will include, but is not limited to widening the road to six concrete lanes with landscaped medians, lighting and side of road tree lawns with pedestrian paths.
Major concept planning for the 56th Avenue corridor was conducted in 2004, resulting in the East 56th Avenue Corridor Concept Plan. The plan was sponsored and facilitated by the Northeast Metro Win-Win Coalition—a multi-jurisdictional coordination group that focuses on issues and concerns of the northeast quadrant of the Denver metro area.
Building on this important conceptual work, in early 2007, federal funding was secured and a comprehensive environmental planning and roadway design evaluation for the improvement of the six-mile long segment of the East 56th Avenue corridor from Quebec Street east to Peña Boulevard was initiated. The corridor study identified corridor congestion and safety issues, evaluated valued resources in the corridor, and developed multi-modal improvement options. The federally required Environmental Assessment has also been completed.
Construction Timeline and Funding
Based on the highest existing and forecast traffic demand and highest accident history, the decision was made to phase the project from west to east. Completion of the project will be based on federal funding.
In 2000, the former Stapleton International Airport site began a transformation to become one of the nation’s largest urban mixed-use infill developments. The redevelopment of the 4,700-acre site occurred on both sides of Interstate 70 in east Denver; however a designated road to connect the two sides was not included in the plan. The Central Park Boulevard (CPB) project creates a designated road to make these connections while also providing crucial access to I-70 and I-270; as well as their links across the state.
The CPB Interchange will be located between Quebec Street and Havana Street on I-70 and will feature two major components. The first component will connect the Stapleton Development on both sides of I-70 with a six lane bridge over I-70. The CPB bridge will be multi-modal friendly and will include twelve foot sidewalks to accommodate all types of movement: vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle.
The second component will connect CPB to Interstates 70 and 270. Due to the nature of the connections, the interchange will consist of a network of "braided" ramps. This type of ramp is necessary along the north and south sides of I-70 to provide access to and from the two interstate highways and will be constructed on land already set aside for the ramps.
Separate from the CPB interchange project is the design and construction of CPB outside the limits of the interchange, to be constructed by Forest City Stapleton. Forest City, who has been the main developer in the Stapleton subdivision, will spend $20 million to extend Central Park Boulevard from 36th Avenue to Northfield Boulevard, approximately 2 miles north. This will be completed concurrently with the CPB Interchange. The second phase will extend CPB from Northfield Boulevard to 56th Avenue.
On August 3, 2009, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was signed by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). With the FONSI, CDOT and FHWA stated that the EA (Environmental Assessment) determined that the project need, environmental issues, impacts, and appropriate mitigation measures were adequately addressed and that the Preferred Alternative has no significant impacts to the human or natural environment. The signing of the FONSI from the EIS (Environmental Impact Study) started the final process to obligate American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for the Interchange project. On August 20, 2009, FHWA signed the Federal Aid Agreement that authorizes the use of funds identified for the project through congressional earmarks and an ARRA grant.
The City issued a Notice to Proceed to SEMA Construction on January 29, 2010 as the project moved into the design phase. The design/build project, started in June of 2010, was completed and opened to traffic in November 2011.
The City and County of Denver – Public Works project team has been working with its design-build contractor, SEMA Construction, Inc., to design and construct the Central Park Boulevard Interchange with I-70 and I-270. Utility relocations are almost complete and environmental work has continued per the EA. The Design phase is currently nearing completion. The contractor began construction in late August with work in the SW quadrant starting with Ramp C, which will connect Eastbound I-270 East to Eastbound I-70. The "official" groundbreaking for the interchange project occurred September 15, 2010.
Construction Timeline and Funding -Interchange
The project is scheduled to begin construction in the summer of 2010 and be open to traffic in late 2011. Federal funds and proceeds from the current Denver bond issue are the primary sources of funding for the interchange project.
|Better Denver Bond Program||$30 million|
|Federal Stimulus (ARRA)||$12 million|
|Federal Highway Funds||$8 million|
The CPB Interchange is part of the Better Denver Bond Program approved by Denver voters in 2007, along with funding from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and additional funding sources. Once complete, an average of 17,000 vehicles will use CPB daily and an estimated 46,000 vehicles are anticipated to use the facility daily in 2035.
The Better Denver Bond program is a $550 million, voter-approved program that is improving the City’s existing infrastructure and adding critical new infrastructure to support and enhance Denver’s economic vitality and quality of life well into the future. The program reaches roads, bridges, libraries, parks, hospitals, public safety and cultural facilities and other important public amenities.
Construction Timeline and Funding - Extension from the Interchange
Concurrent with the interchange project (but as a separate project), Forest City Stapleton will construct the extension of Central Park Boulevard north of the interchange from 36th Avenue to Northfield Boulevard.
The extension of Central Park Boulevard continuing north from Northfield Boulevard to 56th Avenue will be handled by Forest City Stapleton and the Park Creek Metro District.