North Metropolitan Industrial Area Connectivity Study

About the Project

North Metropolitan Industral Area logo

The purpose of the North Metropolitan Industrial Area Connectivity Study to identify and prioritize projects that best provide connectivity and improve mobility in the industrial area. The study was funded through a federal grant from the Denver Regional Council of Governments in partnership with Adams CountyCommerce City and the City & County of Denver.

Study area industrial map

The study reviewed the transportation system in one of metro Denver’s original industrial districts, dotted with islands of heavy industrial uses and warehousing that require access to a web of crisscrossing freight-rail lines and the high-speed road network. While road and rail connections brought the industrial-intensive land uses to this area, these travel modes – along with natural features such as the South Platte River and Sand Creek – have created barriers for other travel options that have evolved over time.

Connecting the dispersed clusters of residential and commercial uses within and outside of the study area has been problematic over the years. Despite these issues and a lack of prior public investment, the area continues to be a core economic driver and significant employment center providing more than 60,000 jobs within the Denver Metro Area.

Evaluation Process

The study used the 40-plus local land use and transportation plans to form the basis for proposed improvements, dividing the study area into nine travel sheds that grouped similar land use and travel patterns.

The travel sheds allowed local connectivity issues within these sub-regions to be identified and form part of the study area-wide assessment. Travel modes (pedestrian/bicycle, transit, vehicles, and freight) were ranked in terms of priority for each of these travel sheds.

Approximately 300 projects were evaluated in the context of study objectives:

  • Identify the key travel sheds for different modes.
  • Identify those projects that create parallel routes to provide a second tier of connectivity beyond I-25, I-70, Washington Street, and Quebec Street.
  • Prioritize projects that create key spines for freight carriers, transit, and passenger vehicles to use through the study area, and transit hubs within the study area.
  • Describe the potential for new trends, such as car-sharing services, to remove some of the barriers.
  • Replace and refurbish obsolete and substandard infrastructure.

A Technical Advisory Team provided input to the technical evaluation and recommendations. Businesses, agencies and key stakeholders participated in small group meetings and one-on-one stakeholder interviews.

Identified Priority Projects

The study identified nine multi-modal priority projects that improve connectivity throughout the industrial area, addressing transportation needs regardless of jurisdictional boundaries:

  1. 52nd Avenue, Brighton Boulevard to Colorado Boulevard, extend over the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR)
  2. 56th Avenue to 58th Avenue connection over the South Platte River
  3. Brighton Boulevard and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF RR) — improve clearance, turning angle
  4. Brighton Boulevard and York Street intersection, angle improvements to support large truck turns
  5. Race Court and BNSF RR and Brighton Boulevard, increase height clearance at underpass
  6. Colorado Boulevard from MLK Boulevard to 54th Avenue, improve with enhanced bicycle/pedestrian crossings, improved transit service, streetscaping, and sidewalks
  7. 72nd Avenue multi-modal corridor
  8. New Interstate 76 (I-76) interchange ramps, including an additional ramp at SH 224 and I-76
  9. O'Brien Canal loop and connection to South Platte River Trail

Next Steps

Each project will require further environmental and engineering analysis, with collective support from Adams County, Commerce City and Denver. Local governments will:

  • Endeavor to incorporate all projects within the Denver Regional Council of Government’s 2045 Regional Transportation Plan, appropriately packaging phases or projects to maximize success within the regional prioritization process.
  • Strive to include these projects within their respective transportation planning documents and capital improvement and preservation plans, coordinating local funding to advance further environmental and engineering analysis required for each project.