Axios Denver

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It's Friday. Time to weekend!

  • Today's weather: Wow — sunny with a high near 78. More of the same this weekend.

🏒 Situational awareness: DU men's hockey won 2-1 in overtime yesterday against Boston University, keeping hopes alive for a record 10th national title.

Today's newsletter is 911 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: DIA explores child care facility for its workers

Two-year-old Mile Feiger, of Seattle, naps at Denver International Airport in 2019. Photo: Joe Mahoney/Getty Images

Denver International Airport is exploring how it can provide on-site child care for its roughly 40,000 employees.

Why it matters: Child care is costly, can be hard to find, and can hinder people's ability to accept new jobs or even promotions.

Driving the news: Denver airport CEO Phil Washington presented a plan Wednesday to a city council committee for a feasibility study to create a child care facility at the world's fifth-busiest airport.

  • The plan calls for housing the facility inside the airport's Center of Equity and Excellence, a training center currently under construction set to be completed next year.

What they're saying: "We believe that providing stable child care really empowers individuals who face barriers to employment," Washington said.

State of play: The airport is seeking $800,000 for a three-year contract with Denver-based Colorado Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC), a nonprofit focused on child care and education policies, to complete the study.

Between the lines: The contract's length will give the airport time to determine things like who can use the services — for example, whether it could be available to the general public — and how it will operate.

The big picture: Studies suggest providing such benefits to workers can be beneficial to companies offering it, though they are relatively rare.

Full story

2. 🛣️ I-70 variable speed limits cause confusion

A variable speed limit sign on I-70. Photo: Courtesy of CDOT

If you don't know the speed limit on Interstate 70, you're not alone — and it's not your fault.

A 10-mile stretch of the eastbound lanes recently moved to variable speed limits between Georgetown and Idaho Springs during extreme weather and times of congestion.

  • One recent day, the electronic signs showed 65mph before falling to 45mph, then increasing and decreasing by 5mph repeatedly over miles.

Why it matters: If you can't trust a speed limit sign to remain constant, then what can you trust?

Driving the news: The state transportation department made the shift to variable speed caps to better manage traffic conditions and reduce crashes in the tight stretch where weather, downhill stretches and congestion often cause delays.

  • The I-70 section is the first in the state to use automated software that ties traffic volumes and crash rates, as well as weather, to recommend speed limits.
  • The speed can go as low as 30 mph on the interstate in icy or wet conditions, officials say.

Yes, but: It doesn't necessarily work all the time — whether because drivers intentionally ignore the speed limit or continually need to break and speed up to match the ever-changing signs.

  • The posted speed is enforceable by law enforcement, and it applies to the tolled express lane.

The big picture: Colorado transportation officials are increasingly relying on automated variable limits to control traffic, deploying them already in Glenwood Canyon and soon in other areas, including Wolf Creek Pass.

Keep reading

3. ⛷️ Fears of ski crashes rise as resort crowds grow

Data: Consumer Product Safety Commission; Reproduced from the Colorado Sun; Note: Estimate based on sample of 100 U.S. hospitals; Chart: Axios Visuals

Micki Amick saw a snowboarder crash into someone at Keystone resort and ride away, so she chased him down.

When she caught up, she informed him about the law requiring him to not leave an injured skier without providing contact information. He essentially shrugged. And when she snapped his photo and took it to ski patrol headquarters in hopes they could track him down, they shrugged, too.

What she's saying: "It made me think there's a bigger problem here. There's real danger on the slopes and no one seems to care about it," she told the Colorado Sun, recalling the Feb. 28 incident.

State of play: The concern about ski and snowboard crashes is reaching new levels, according to the Sun, which analyzed five years' worth of state and local health and emergency records.

  • The number of collisions and injuries reported on ski slopes in Colorado is rising with the increasing number of riders at resorts.

Yes, but: The true extent of the problem is obscured by ski area operators who don't disclose the data — unlike nearly every other industry — and by authorities who don't investigate or pursue criminal charges against skiers at fault, the publication's reporting found.

Keep reading

4. Mile Highlights: Xcel CEO pay topped $21M

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

💰 Xcel Energy CEO Bob Frenzel saw his pay top $21 million in 2023, more than double what he made the prior year. (DBJ 🔑)

🔫 Rep. Don Wilson (R-Monument) left his firearm unattended in a state Capitol bathroom Wednesday, sparking safety concerns and drawing critics from Democrats, John reports.

📉 Inflation in Denver fell below the national average to 2.8% in March, new data shows. (Colorado Sun)

🍅 The owners of acclaimed Restaurant Olivia announced they will open a new Italian restaurant, Emilia, in the River North district in 2025, John reports.

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5. Alon Shaya and Safta expand to Las Vegas

Alon Shaya created Safta in Denver. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Ferretti

Alon Shaya is going glitz and glam with a new restaurant residency opening at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Why it matters: The Denver chef not-so-secretly hopes the Safta brand could become permanent, Axios' Chelsea Brasted writes.

The big picture: Safta 1964 is the fifth restaurant launched under Shaya's New Orleans-based group, Pomegranate Hospitality. It follows the original location in The Source hotel in Denver.

Zoom in: The new space reimagines that restaurant, Shaya tells Axios.

  • But first "I was like, all right: Vegas, grandmother … how do we make that work?" Shaya says.
  • Ultimately, the restaurant has Shaya imagining what his grandmother may have been like if she'd been in Las Vegas when she was young and frivolous.

Full story

Our picks:

🍸 John is still thinking about the delicious fat-washed cocktails at Yacht Club, his favorite new Denver bar.

☀️ Alayna is soaking up the sun this weekend to help fight whatever bug has got her under the weather.

☕️ Esteban is savoring the amazing atole drink from Cultura Chocolate.

Thanks to our editor Ross Terrell and copy editor Bill Kole.