Divergent Diamond interchange

Illustration of the type of divergent diamond interchange proposed for Jackson Gap Street at Peña Boulevard.

The Denver City Council will vote tonight on a proposed $93.4 million contract to widen a section of Peña Boulevard in order to add more lanes and improve traffic flow leading to Denver International Airport.

The proposed contract with Interstate Highway Construction of Centennial involves a 3.5-mile stretch of Peña Boulevard between Jackson Gap and the airport terminal.

The project would increase the number of inbound lanes from three to five and outbound lanes from three to four.

If approved, construction would begin in January 2020 with a scheduled completion date of May 2022.

The project is the first of four phases of improvements over the next decade slated for the 17.2-mile Peña Boulevard.

Among the features of the first phase are:

  • a new “divergent diamond interchange” on Jackson Gap Street at Peña Boulevard.
  • a new “return to airport” U-turn at Jackson Gap that would give motorists more time and distance to make that move.
  • a separate ramp for rental car shuttle buses, taking them out of the mix of traffic on Peña Boulevard.
  • a new ground transportation lot, including bathrooms and a break area, and building for taxis, shuttles, and Uber and Lyft drivers.

The council’s Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Services Committee forwarded the proposal by a 5-0 vote during a June 19 meeting.

Michelle Martin, the airports’ director of infrastructure, said the improvements are geared toward the level of traffic that the airport expects to see by 2030.

She said the current capacity of the road was created for 50 million vehicles per year but already is handling 64.5 million annually.

Bill Poole, the airport’s senior vice president for design and planning, said the concrete on this section of Peña Boulevard is the area most in need of replacement because, in part, of the volume of shuttle buses on that part of the roadway.

In answer to a question from Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, Poole said this phase of improvements is not as related to plans for an “aerotropolis” of developments on property near the airport as the other later phases would be.

Councilman Albus Brooks asked if there was adequate analysis in the plan for the role of RTD’s Light Rail A Line and buses to the airport. Poole replied that there would be more such analysis for the later phases of the project.

And in answer to a question from Councilman Wayne New, DIA officials said all four phases of the road improvement project could take up to eight to 10 years and possibly longer.

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