Denver traffic streets transportation

Denver voters will be asked whether to create a new department of transportation and infrastructure if the city council votes tonight to refer the proposed charter change to the November ballot.

The council also will be holding a hearing and taking a final vote on a five-year plan for city parks that calls for locating a park or open-space area within a 10-minute walk of every city resident.

Both bills are up for a final reading and vote during tonight's meeting in the council chambers at City Hall.

The new transportation department would be headed by a cabinet-level director to oversee building out all transportation systems including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

It would also absorb the Public Works functions of trash and recycling collection plus maintenance of storm and sewer systems. Public Works would become a division instead of a department under the plan.

“Creating a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in Denver is one of many steps we are taking to reinvent our transportation system to improve connectivity, economic opportunity and quality of life for everyone,” Mayor Michael Hancock said when he unveiled the proposal in April.

Hancock was facing a fiercely competitive re-election campaign at that time. Some of his opponents argued this his proposal was a way to blunt their criticism of traffic congestion throughout the city.

But Hancock countered that the planning for a new department had been under way for about two years.

Also up for a vote and a public hearing on Monday night is a plan on how the city intends to spend parks dedicated revenue from a 0.25 percentage point sales tax increase approved by the voters in 2018.

Revenue from that tax – 2.5 cents for every $10 purchase – is expected to total $37.5 million in 2019 and grow to $44 million annually by 2024.

Under the plan, the city will use the money to purchase land for new city parks and green space and maintain and improve existing parks and trails.

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