Denver plans to rebuild the Colfax and Federal interchange, possibly eliminating the intersection altogether.

Traffic can be a nightmare at Colfax and Federal.  Then again, where can’t it be a nightmare in Denver now?  On Colfax, traffic often backs up to I-25 during rush hour or on Broncos game days, and Federal Boulevard can be a stand still.  In the middle of it all, an interchange exists that is aging and has divided neighborhoods.  Denver plans to fix this.

The current interchange of Federal and Colfax covers 23 acres.  The layout is not friendly to cars, cyclists, or pedestrians.  The large looping cloverleaf ramps often don’t move traffic as planned, and tight merges at the ends of the ramps make the intersection dangerous. There are narrow sidewalks on both sides of Federal, but no marked crossings, and Colfax only has a sidewalk on one side.  Because of the cloverleaf design of the current interchange and the lack of pedestrian crossings, it is not possible to go from Federal to Colfax or vica-versa on foot without jaywalking across six lanes of traffic.  Bicycle infrastructure is non-existent.


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Neither Federal or Colfax have crosswalks or bicylce lanes.



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Short to non-existent merge spaces cause accidents and back up traffic.


An early study has proposed four different alternatives.  All of them free up land for redevelopment, and nearly all of them would result in the removal of some parking at Mile High Field.

The first proposal is to move all ramps for both streets to the West Side of Colfax.  Two streetlights would be added to Federal Boulevard. Major advantages of this design is it would allow traffic to continue to move freely on Colfax and it would completely free up all land on the East side of Federal for development.


Federal Half Clover
Partial Cloverleaf Proposal, Courtesy: Denver’s Federal Decture Station Area Plan, 2012



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The interchange at Havana and I-70 uses the Partial Cloverleaf design that is being considered for Federal and Colfax


Another option would be to install a normal diamond interchange.  This interchange would allow traffic to continue moving along unrestricted along Federal Boulevard by installing a second traffic signal on Colfax.  Because of the missing cloverleaf ramp on the Northeast corner, the current interchange has a signal on Colfax on the East side of Federal.


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A simple diamond interchange would allow traffic to continure to flow freely along Federal Boulevard.


Also being considered is simply allowing the roads to intesect and placing a singal traffic signal at the intersection.  The major disadvantages would be that due to traffic, both roads would need to be widened which could further divide the neighborhoods along Federal and make both roads more challenging for pedestrians and cyclists.  The major upside is it would reclaim the most land which could then be developed.


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An at grade intersection would allow neighborhoods to build up around the intersection but would require additional lanes to handle traffic.


One of the most intriguing ideas for the rebuild of the intersection is to simply remove the interchange altogether.  In this design, traffic along both streets could move unobstructed, but anyone wanting to move from one road to the other would have to use side streets. These streets would have to be built after ramps are removed.  This design would also allow for a large amount of development, and pedestrian infrastructure could be built into the interchange.

Federal Reestablished Grid
Removing the interchange would reconnect the surrounding neighborhoods but it would cause the most trouble for drivers trying to move from one street to the other.

There is no timeline or funding established for this project, but it widely acknowledged that this project will need to be accomplished to help solve traffic and safety issues in the area.  If you would like to get involved in this project, there is a public meeting on Thursdsay, March 16th at 6:00pm at  3275 W 14th Ave – 2nd Floor Community Room (Entrance from W. 14th Ave in the White Building behind the Corky Gonzales Library).

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