WalkDenver recently shared our analysis of Mayor Hancock's proposed 2017 budget, specifically noting the glaring omission of funding for the infrastructure improvements along Colfax Avenue requested by the Vision Zero Coalition in partnership with the Colfax Collaborative, a joint effort of four Colfax Avenue Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) who work to make their districts clean, safe, and friendly. Colfax is currently one of the deadliest streets in Denver, with six fatalities in 2015.
WalkDenver and the Colfax Collaborative subsequently urged Denver residents to sign a petition requesting the inclusion of $500,000 in the 2017 budget for Colfax. This funding would pay for the design and engineering of enhanced pedestrian crossings at Fairfax, Adams, and Madison Streets along East Colfax, and at intersections between Utica and Osceola Streets on West Colfax. Nearly 1,800 people signed the petition, prompting City Council to include this request along with other budget amendments formally submitted to Mayor Hancock on October 4.
The people spoke and Mayor Hancock listened! In an October 10 letter to City Council, the Mayor announced his support for adding $500,000 for Colfax to the 2017 budget:
"Connectivity throughout our city is paramount. Colfax is such a unique corridor in Denver and in order to better function as a major artery in our city, it will require significant resources. I am happy to support this budget request and appreciate Council’s attention to this corridor and to our community’s voice. This investment will continue the design work that will help us identify the corridor’s gaps like needed sidewalk improvements, added street parking, streetscape improvements and new crosswalks and stoplights. Completing this design work is an important step to help us understand what this corridor needs to maximize its potential. Planning and prioritizing pedestrian mobility and safety improvements are key priorities of Denveright’s project goals. I look forward to planning a stronger, safer, and multi-modal Colfax corridor for all. These additional funds will be added to the transfer to the capital improvement program and will come from the General Fund fund balance."
Mayor Hancock further supported City Council's request for an additional $500,000 for Vision Zero projects outside of the City center. He explains in the letter:
"I am grateful for Council’s support and dedication to our shared priority around Vision Zero’s mission of zero traffic fatalities. Earlier this year, I committed us to the Vision Zero effort and believe that through smart policies and strategies, including increased coordination of city department work and community engagement, we will be able to reduce fatal crashes. I support this budget request, which will allow the Department of Public Works to improve at least a half dozen more intersections than originally planned. Aside from immediate safety needs, Public Works will select intersections outside of the center core of the city and based on criteria such as proximity to schools, transit, and parks and trails. These additional funds will be added to the transfer to the capital improvement program and will come from the General Fund fund balance."
City Council’s public hearing on the budget is set for October 24, and it has until November 24 to adopt or reject the mayor’s spending plan.
We are grateful to Mayor Hancock for adding these items to the 2017 budget, and to everyone who spoke up in support of making Colfax a safer and more vibrant street for people walking, biking, and taking transit.
The funding marks an important step forward for Vision Zero, and continues the momentum of WalkDenver's "People on Colfax" initiative. We believe that Colfax can and should be Denver's premier Main Street, and over the past few years have worked with community members to document the factors that make Colfax unsafe and unpleasant for pedestrians (see our reports for both West and East Colfax), demonstrate design solutions that would make Colfax more people friendly, and celebrate Colfax's unique character with art. You can help us continue this important work by contributing to WalkDenver today!