Ban­nock will close to han­dle crush of events

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

Den­ver is brunch­ing so hard, it’s clos­ing down streets. And they won’t re­open for five weeks.

BrunchFEST on Aug. 27 kicks off a string of late-sum­mer events at Civic Cen­ter that typ­i­cally would have the city open­ing and clos­ing Ban­nock Street through the end of Septem­ber. But this year, Den­ver has opted to put up the bar­ri­ers at West Col­fax Av­enue and at West 14th Av­enue Park­way and leave them un­til the last drop of choco­late fon­due is mopped up af­ter the Hot Choco­late 15K/5K on Oct. 1.

But un­like other street clo­sures that fo­cus on ac­ti­vat­ing pub­lic spa­ces, such as the pop-up park on 21st Street, this clo­sure fo­cuses on study­ing trans­porta­tion and lay­ing the ground­work for fu­ture plans.

“Peo­ple are used to Ban­nock be­ing closed this time of year,” said Crissy Fan­ganello, Den­ver’s di­rec­tor of trans­porta­tion and mo­bil­ity. “It’s just on and off, on and off.”

Ban­nock Street will be closed be­tween Col­fax and 14th from Aug. 25 to Oct. 1. The clo­sure will cre­ate more con­sis­tency for driv­ers and al­low the city to test a new traf­fic con­fig­u­ra­tion and a pedes­trian-friendly plaza, Fan­ganello said.

The idea for the plaza has floated around the city for years, but Den­ver Pub­lic Works spokes­woman Nancy Kuhn wasn’t aware of any for­mal dis­cus­sions un­til this 2017 study. She and Fan­ganello said the clo­sure is sim­ply a pre­lim­i­nary step and a plaza is still far in the fu­ture.

Ide­ally, the tem­po­rary clo­sure will lessen con­fu­sion, Fan­ganello said.

But she ad­mit­ted it may not be per­fect in terms of traf­fic flow.

Side­walks and bike lanes will re­main open. Many of the ma­jor events will have ad­di­tional clo­sures. The city will be as­sess­ing safety and mo­bil­ity for cars, pedes­tri­ans and bikes. It’ll also mon­i­tor the ef­fect on regular Ban­nock Street users.

The city will main­tain two left­turn lanes and a right-turn lane from 14th onto Col­fax, Kuhn said. There will be sig­nage at­tached to the traf­fic sig­nal mast post and a more clear bar­ri­cade of Ban­nock than is usu­ally de­ployed.

The clo­sure is not ex­pected to have a fi­nan­cial im­pact on the city as event or­ga­niz­ers are the ones who pro­vide and cover the costs of bar­ri­cades, Kuhn said.

Ban­nock was closed for an ex­tended pe­riod of time last year when the city had sev­eral con­sec­u­tive events, in­clud­ing the NFL kick­off party, 911 com­mem­o­ra­tive event and Taste of Colorado.

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