Mar 11, 2024 - News

Denver airport's Peña Boulevard set for $51M makeover

Traffic on Peña Boulevard to Denver International Airport last August. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Buckle up for a $51 million overhaul of Denver International Airport's Peña Boulevard that officials say will mean 900 days of construction, starting this spring through the fall of 2026.

Why it matters: The project, approved by city leaders Monday, aims to ease congestion and improve safety on the only road to and from the airport, where traffic has increased 80% since it was built more than 30 years ago.

What they're saying: Federal projections show the airport could serve 120 million passengers by 2045, "so thoughtful planning of Peña Boulevard is critical to the continued success" of DIA, CEO Phil Washington told council members at a committee meeting late last month.

Zoom in: The $50.8 million contract with Flatiron Constructors, which is funded through airport revenue streams, includes expanding, repaving, and adding ramps to the 11-mile roadway, the new master plan shows.

  • Direct access ramps from the east and west terminals to New Castle Street will offer a dedicated bus-only route, taking rental car and airport buses off Peña Boulevard.
  • Jackson Gap Street will be reconstructed into a diverging diamond interchange that's expected to reduce delays and serve as an entryway to car rental locations.
  • New bicycle and pedestrian paths will also be built to better connect them to transit stations and regional trails.

The other side: Three council members — Chris Hinds, Shontel Lewis and Sarah Parady — voted against the plan on Monday and would prefer improving and expanding service on the Regional Transportation District's A-Line, which runs from downtown to the airport.

What to watch: Airport and city leaders are still studying possible ways to further ease traffic, including investing in RTD services and other "sustainable transit options," Lisa Nguyen, DIA's senior planner, told council members.

  • In doing so, the goal is to decrease airport employees' drive-alone trips from 71% to 61% by 2035 and boost airport passenger transit trips —including RTD's A Line, as well as buses and shuttles — from 9% to 19% within the same time period, she said.

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