Artistic highway

If you’ve lived in the Denver metro for more than a few days, you’re excited to enjoy the mountain views and outdoor activities, but you’ve likely already figured out that those positives come at the cost of your commute. As more people flock to the Denver metro traffic is becoming worse along Denver’s major routes every day, and that’s not hyperbole, the facts back it up.

The major routes that Denver utilizes to get where they need to go were planned and constructed back in the 1950s and 60s. Though there have been several renovations and additions over the years, the fact is that Denver’s infrastructure cannot keep up with its drivers.

According to data from CDOT, it’s not in our heads; the data doesn’t lie. Let’s take the popular commuting route of Hampden Avenue from C470 to I-25. The average rush hour (7 to 8 am) commute has increased by nine minutes in the past three years alone. It’s not that route, let’s examine how commute time has increased over other popular commuting routes from 2012 to 2016.

  • Southbound I-25, Speer to Arapahoe: 29.36 mins to 29.05 mins
  • Northbound I-25, E-470 to Park Avenue: 15.22 mins to 17.27 mins
  • Southbound US-285, E-470 to I-25: 19.09 mins to 28.03 mins
  • Eastbound US-36, Broadway (Boulder) to I-25: 29.3 mins to 31.44 mins

Our highways and turnpikes are becoming more clogged by the day due to Colorado’s outdated infrastructure, but there may be some relief in sight. Governor John Hickenlooper has made fixing up Colorado’s roads one of his major priorities going into 2017. When you look at the numbers, the issues that surround Colorado’s roads become clear.

In 1991 the population of metro Denver was 3.3 million people, with an estimated 27.7 billion miles traveled annually. In 1991 the spending on road construction by Colorado equated to approximately $125.70 per person*. In 2015 the population of Denver clocked in at 5.4 million with 49.3 billion miles traveled, but only $68.94 spent per person.

Colorado looks to tackle its growing road and infrastructure woes over the next several years, but where the money is coming from remains a mystery. It’s possible that Colorado drivers will see more cooperation between government and private enterprise, like the express lane project on I-70. Hickenlooper has stated that he wants to see solid legislative action by the end of March.

*Adjusted for inflation