Purpose / Need / Goals
What is the purpose of the Study?
The Purpose of this Study is to develop a Master Plan for Peña Boulevard to increase mobility options, enhance safety, and manage demand to accommodate continued economic growth at the airport and along the corridor, supporting the regional and state economy. The Transportation Study involves a traffic analysis, conducting a mobility assessment, and soliciting community engagement to provide a comprehensive Master Plan for infrastructure improvements for the Peña Boulevard corridor. The Mobility Study will develop policy Travel Demand Management (TDM) strategies for the airport.
What is the need for the Study?
Peña Boulevard was originally constructed over 30 years ago and since then average daily traffic volumes have grown by 80%, crash rates have continued to rise, and periods of poor roadway performance have multiplied. Due to the age of the pavement, annual maintenance has increased, impacting traffic and there is a need for reconstruction. Passenger growth at DEN, developments along the corridor, and increased freight have all added significant demands to the corridor and will grow worse with time. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities remain unconnected, with barriers to access transit and limited multi-modal transportation options within the Peña Boulevard corridor and Denver Moves Gateway Area.
DEN is conducting a transportation and mobility study to understand existing and future traffic demand and land-use patterns along the Peña corridor. The Study will result in a master plan that will provide a comprehensive blueprint for infrastructure improvements for the Peña Boulevard corridor and will include Travel Demand Management (TDM) strategies aimed to incentivize sustainable transportation to the airport.
What are the goals and objectives of the Study?
View the full Goals and Objectives for The Peña Boulevard Transportation and Mobility Master Plan Study and The Denver Moves Gateway Area Travel Study linked here.
How does this Study align with DEN’s Vision 100?
The improvements identified in the Study will seek to manage the demand of serving 100 million passengers within the next 8 to 10 years and ensure Peña Boulevard continues to facilitate the growth of DEN and the region in a sustainable way. Visit Vision 100 to learn more.
What does “mobility” mean?
“Mobility” considers how people move around the Study area (cars, buses, trails, bicycles, by foot). The Study aims to improve all elements of the transportation infrastructure to improve mobility within the Study area.
How will this Study benefit the region?
DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $33.5 billion of revenue for the region annually. DEN is home to more than 1,000 individual companies, 24 airlines, more than 900 contractors/tenants/vendors, and 15 federal agencies. DEN provides more than 30,000 on-airport jobs and a total of 260,000 direct and indirect jobs to the region. DEN was the 3rd-busiest airport in the world in 2021.
On a regional level, both Northeast Denver and Aurora are experiencing unprecedented growth. From the 2018 opening of the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center to the millions of square feet of industrial projects to plans for 20,000 more residential units, the area is undergoing rapid growth. The Study will seek to manage these demands and ensure Peña Boulevard continues to facilitate the growth of DEN and the region in a sustainable way.
The Peña Master Plan aims to increase transportation choices for surrounding communities and employees by building multi-use trails for cyclists, expanding essential services and providing first mile/last mile connections to transit to reduce auto dependency in historically disadvantaged communities. The Study will work with the City and County of Denver’s Community Planning and Development (CPD) and Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) teams to identify and construct multiuse paths and bikeways to RTD transit stations and within the Far Northeast neighborhood.
How will the Study benefit the neighborhoods/community?
As Peña Boulevard has reached its capacity, there is an increase of traffic using local roads (or streets) such as Tower Road and 56th Avenue, causing increased congestion and safety concerns in communities that are not designed to handle that level of traffic. Improvements to the corridor are needed to relieve congestion, improve air quality, and enhance quality of life in the communities surrounding Peña Boulevard.
In addition, the Study will aim to increase transportation choices for surrounding communities, DEN passengers and employees by building multi-use trails, expanding essential services, and providing first mile/last mile strategies to reduce auto dependency.
Funding / Project Management
Who is funding the Study?
DEN funded the Study with support from DOTI for the Gateway portion of the Study.
Why is DEN pursuing grant opportunities for Peña Boulevard?
DEN is pursuing grant opportunities to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement that prohibits the use of airport revenue for non-aeronautical use.
Based on a recent traffic study along Peña Boulevard, it was determined that 73% of traffic is airport-based, while 27% is non-airport traffic. Due to the split of airport/non-airport traffic on Peña Boulevard, the FAA requires that, for the segment of Peña Boulevard west of E-470 to I-70, DEN may only fund maintenance, capital improvement costs, and future debt service on a pro rata basis.
DEN will continue to pursue grant opportunities to compensate for the non-airport split of traffic on Peña Boulevard. If DEN is not successful with its grant pursuits, DOTI will have to fund these non-airport portions.
Who will fund the construction of identified improvements?
Construction funding has not been determined at this time. The City will pursue grants and alternate funding for the non-airport percentage (the area used by the community for non-airport activities) to meet FAA requirements (see previous answer).
What is the difference between the DEN Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the City and County of Denver CIP?
DEN, which is operated by Denver’s Department of Aviation, is established and governed by the City and County of Denver Municipal Charter. The Department of Aviation is an enterprise as defined by the Colorado Constitution. As an enterprise, the airport does not use any taxpayer dollars for its operation. Accordingly, DEN has its own CIP. DEN’s Capital Improvement Dollars must be used to fund airport-based projects and are audited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
When will the Peña Master Plan be finalized?
The final Peña Master Plan is anticipated to be complete in fall of 2023 at the end of the Study.
What are the next steps after the Study is complete?
Once the Study is completed and the Peña Master Plan is finalized, a detailed design and an environmental study would commence dependent on funding, in spring of 2024.
When will design start?
Spring 2024 (depending on funding)
When will construction start?
Construction would begin no earlier than 2027. DEN may seek opportunities to fund and implement Travel Demand Management (TDM) strategies or other multi-modal improvements in advance. (For a description of TDM see DRCOG’s website.)
Multimodal / Alternatives
Is DEN adding lanes to Peña Boulevard?
The Study is reviewing all improvement options for Peña Boulevard, including the addition of a managed lane in each direction between I-70 and 64th Avenue and between 64th Avenue and E-470. This Study sets out to understand the existing and future demand on Peña Boulevard and assess the type of managed lanes that are best suited to the corridor (i.e., High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes, High Occupancy Tolled (HOT) lanes, tolled express lanes, etc.).
Denver Regional Council of Governments’ (DRCOG) 2050 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan (2050 MV RTP) sets the vision for the Denver region’s multimodal transportation system and guides investment in the projects and programs to achieve that vision. The 2050 MV RTP includes two projects to add a managed lane to Peña Boulevard in each direction between I-70 and 64th Avenue and between 64th Avenue and E-470.
What is a managed lane?
The Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) defines “Managed lanes” as highway facilities or a set of lanes where operational strategies are proactively implemented and managed in response to changing conditions. Examples of operating managed lane projects include high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, value-priced lanes, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, or exclusive or special use lanes.
Managed lanes on Peña Boulevard will accommodate transit and other forms of high occupancy vehicles which will enhance transit travel time reliability and create opportunities for more efficient transit services on Peña. Roadway congestion is managed by incentivizing public transit (bus) and high-occupancy vehicles (HOV) to use the lanes for free. High-occupancy vehicles can include many forms, including carpooling, vanpooling, charter buses, hotel shuttles, mountain carriers, and shared-ride services.
Will there be a toll on Peña Boulevard?
The decision on a recommended improvement has not been made. Multiple alternatives including tolling, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV), and other multi-modal solutions will be considered and evaluated with regard to how it achieves the project goals and objectives. All alternatives considered will be communicated at public meetings for comment and input.
Does the Study consider expanding transit?
Improved transit service and usage to manage demand is a goal of the Study.
The Peña Master Plan will aim to increase transportation choices for surrounding communities and DEN employees by seeking opportunities to expand essential transit services and providing first mile/last mile strategies to reduce auto dependency. DEN is currently working with RTD to better synchronize transit schedules with employee shifts and reduce costs to employees to reduce barriers to opportunities.
If there is the addition of managed lanes on Peña Boulevard it will enhance the mobility and travel time reliability of existing and future bus services and other forms of high occupancy vehicles (HOV). HOVs can include many forms, including carpooling, vanpooling, charter buses, hotel shuttles, mountain carriers, and shared-ride services. Public transit (bus) ridership and high-occupancy vehicles (HOV) will be incentivized on Peña Boulevard by making managed lanes free to these users.
Is DEN encouraging A-Line and transit ridership instead of adding lanes to Peña Boulevard?
Yes. Increased use of RTD’s A-Line is a goal of the Study. In 2019, RTD’s average daily ridership for the DEN airport station was 17,500, comprising of almost 14,000 daily riders on the RTD A-Line and 3,500 daily riders on RTD bus services. These numbers are projected to double by 2040. Based on current operations, the A-Line can accommodate up to 50,000 riders per day.
A Travel Demand Management (TDM) program, developed as part of the Study, will provide implementable strategies and plans on how DEN can increase its share of public transit ridership (including RTD A-Line and bus services). Bus services have a greater degree of flexibility than fixed rail services and can more easily be expanded to serve a wider network. The addition of managed lanes on Peña Boulevard will enhance the mobility and travel time reliability of existing and future bus services and other forms of high occupancy vehicles (HOV).
Will alternatives include multi-modal options, other than for automobiles?
The Study team recognizes that bicycle and pedestrian facilities remain unconnected, with barriers to access transit (RTD A-Line, Buses, etc.) and DEN. The Study will identify adjacent multi-use trails, outside of the Peña Boulevard roadway, to increase active transportation uses and improve comfort. The trails will increase regional connectivity for active transportation by connecting to DEN, the First Creek Trail and RTD A-Line Stations along Peña Boulevard.
How does the Study incorporate Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies?
The Peña Master Plan will include a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, with recommendations and specific policies to improve transportation infrastructure and increase mobility choices for DEN passengers and employees. This TDM plan will establish target mode splits that aim to decrease vehicle trips on Peña Boulevard and encourage more sustainable transportation options to passengers, visitors, and employees at DEN.
The TDM program will provide implementable strategies and plans on how DEN can increase its share of public transit ridership (including RTD A-Line and bus services), support employee vanpools/carpools, incentivize sustainable transportation, and encourage HOVs. Proposed solutions from the TDM program could include employee incentive programs to promote transit ridership, innovative parking solutions to encourage carpools and vanpools, and improved facilities to make sustainable transportation more enticing, such as bike lockers, assembly and repair stations, and bike tools.
How will the highway's impacts to the environment be considered and reduced and/or minimized?
Potential environmental impacts, both positive and negative, will be assessed at a high level during the study phase of this project. As the project moves into the planning, design, and future phases, all required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses will be completed to assess impacts and reduce, minimize, and/or mitigate negative impacts. In addition, all local, state, and federal environmental rules will be followed.
Furthermore, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Envision framework will be utilized. Envision® provides a consistent, consensus-based framework for assessing sustainability, resiliency, and equity in civil infrastructure.
Denver Moves Gateway Area
What is the Denver Moves Gateway Area?
Denver Moves Gateway Area is generally bounded by Chambers Road on the west, Himalaya St. on the east, Green Valley Ranch Boulevard. on the south and Peña Boulevard on the north.
Denver Moves Gateway Area Travel Study was originally scoped by the City and County of Denver’s (CCD) Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) to better understand the travel demands in the Gateway Area with recent developments, forecast assumptions, land usage, current/planned transit services, current/planned bike network, and updated traffic data.
Why is the Denver Moves Gateway Area Travel Study included in the Peña Boulevard Study?
DEN and DOTI recognized that there was significant overlap between the two studies and agreed to combine them into one study co-managed by the two agencies.
Does the Gateway Study build on the recommendations of the Far Northeast?
The Far Northeast Area Plan (FNAP) involved extensive public outreach and engagement to understand the community’s vision. The recommendations identified in this plan provide direction to guide day-to-day decision-making related to land use, public investment, private development, and partnerships. The Study Team will use the FNAP to guide the development of solutions and proposed alternatives within the Study area. In addition, The Study team will be thoughtful in their engagement efforts to ensure previous stakeholder and public comments and visions are considered before re-engagement occurs.
How is this Study different from the Far Northeast Area Plan?
The Far Northeast Area Plan (FNAP) Amendment, which was created by Denver’s Community Planning and Development (CPD), and adopted by Denver City Council in May 2022, outlines the community’s vision for the next 20+ years. This plan will help inform community priorities and public investments during that time. The Far Northeast planning area includes the neighborhoods of Montbello, Gateway-Green Valley Ranch, and the southernmost portion of the Denver International Airport neighborhood. The Study Team will use the FNAP to guide the development of solutions and proposed alternatives within the Study area.
Communications and Public Engagement
What are the opportunities for public and stakeholder participation?
The Study will provide opportunities for public and stakeholder participation at key milestones throughout the Study to ensure their feedback is considered and incorporated into the proposed solutions. Multiple public meetings will be held in the neighboring communities and a Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) is being developed that will be comprised of surrounding transportation agencies, local agencies, and advocacy groups.
The Study team aims to host public and SWG meetings in early 2023. More details will be provided later this year.
How will community feedback impact the Study?
Public review and engagement are critical to this Study and the community’s feedback will influence the outcomes of the Peña Master Plan. Meeting notes for public meetings will be generated and any comments received from the public will be considered as part of the Study outcomes.
The public and stakeholders have already been engaged in several planning studies within or adjacent to the Project area, in particular, DOTI’s Far Northeast Plan. The Study team wants to be thoughtful in their engagement efforts to ensure previous stakeholder and public comments and visions are considered before re-engagement occurs.
How can I contact the Project Team?
For additional questions and feedback, you can contact the Project Team via email at [email protected], or leave a comment entry through www.flydenver.com/pena_plan.
Is DEN engaging with airport employers, employees, and passengers?
As part of the Study, DEN is conducting surveys of passengers, employers, and employees to understand their transportation needs and challenges when accessing the airport. Over 5,000 passenger responses have been collected and the employee and employer surveys are due to be completed in fall 2022.
A baseline will be established that can be used to understand existing travel behavior, available travel options, transportation barriers and develop a comprehensive ground transportation plan and mobility policies for the airport that promote environmentally sustainable solutions and multi-modal transportation improvements.
How is equity considered in this Study?
Equity is a guiding principle of DEN’s strategic plan, Vision 100 (enter hyperlink) and core value of the Peña Master Plan, see Study goals and objectives (enter hyperlink). Removing transportation barriers to ensure all have access to the airport is a major consideration of the Peña Master Plan. In order to understand what the community needs to make things equitable; we will be engaging community members through a series of meetings so we can better understand the need and incorporate those needs into the Peña Master Plan.
- Engage with communities affected by the Study and integrate their considerations into the proposed solutions
- Explore solutions to the needs of employees who reside in dense employee areas to provide better access to the airport
Develop options to increase transportation choices for economically disadvantaged employees who work at DEN by expanding transportation options, improving connectivity to alternative travel options, and providing first mile/last mile strategies
How does the Study define equity?
The City and County of Denver (CCD) defines equity as “when race and other social identities can no longer be used to predict life outcomes.” The Peña Master Plan Study, seeks to ensure that transportation barriers do not impact employees, passengers, and visitors of getting to and from the airport.