How to get around Denver during the 5-hour-long debate-related closures on I-25 and University Blvd.

Closure will be from 5pm-10pm on Wednesday

DENVER - Several major road closures during Wednesday's presidential debate at the University of Denver promise to complicate the evening rush hour.

University Boulevard will be closed between Evans and Louisiana from 5 p.m. through 10 p.m. That will coincide with the closure of Interstate 25 in both directions from Santa Fe Drive to Hampden Avenue.

What's your best detour?


7NEWS crunched the numbers of the closure area and the potential detours.

From 5 to 10 p.m., an average of 63,000 vehicles go through I-25 and University, according to data provided by CDOT. All of those drivers will need to find an alternate route on Wednesday night.

7NEWS checked the traffic counts between 5 and 10 p.m. for the recommended detours: I-70, I-225, Santa Fe Drive and Hampden Avenue.


  • I-70 and Colorado Boulevard: an average of 35,000 vehicles
  • I-225 and Parker Road: an average of 37,000 vehicles
  • Santa Fe Drive and Evans Avenue: an average of 20,000 vehicles
  • Hampden Avenue and University Boulevard: an average of 15,000 vehicles
  • Colorado Boulevard and Colfax Avenue: an average of 15,000 vehicles


While both Hampden and Colorado have less traffic, they are side streets with lights and large additions of traffic will slow drive times.


"Don't get on Colorado Boulevard and think that it's going to be a short trip," said Glendale police chief Victor Ross.

Glendale police will stagger the shifts of its officers on Wednesday to help with the anticipated traffic on Colorado and to assist Denver police.

However, Glendale is not going to alter the light cycles along Colorado on Wednesday.

"We expect a lot of traffic on the east-west arteries to be pretty heavy also, so if you let north-south go the whole time, you're just jamming up somewhere else," said Ross.

Denver has already said they will adjust light times along Santa Fe to help traffic flow better.


E-470 tolls won't be waived


CDOT also recommends E-470 as an alternate.

7NEWS asked and found out that E-470 will not waive the tolls during the debate detour.

A spokesman told 7NEWS, the E-470 bonds don't allow for the tolls to be lowered or waived except when drivers are forced to use E-470 due to road work or extreme weather conditions.


Denver, Englewood, CDOT will adjust traffic light timing


Traffic engineers will work late into the night Wednesday to monitor traffic flows on Santa Fe Drive and Hampden Avenue during the presidential debate.

7NEWS asked Denver Public Works and Englewood city officials what they plan to do avoid massive back-ups on the detour routes.

Ann Williams of the public works department said they’re working with CDOT and with Englewood to adjust the timing of traffic signals.

"We're going to increase the green time on our signals on Santa Fe," Williams said, "so we can get better traffic flow up and down that corridor in a more timely manner."

Englewood Assistant City Manager Michael Flaherty said engineers there will do the same on Hampden.

But Flaherty noted that with 65,000 vehicles a day, Hampden is already at capacity, and that detoured traffic from I-25 will add to congestion.


Some businesses to close early Wednesday


On a given day, more than 197,000 vehicles normally use the stretch of I-25 that will be closed on Wednesday. Some businesses are now doing their part to help alleviate the expected gridlock.

Workers at the Pepsi Center who will be affected by the closures, for example, are being granted permission to leave work early.

"I think it's very courteous to people who are going to have to take I-25. I think it’s going to be a mess," said employee Kelly McNamara.

CDOT is hoping the closures during the debate are a repeat of the closures during the Democratic National Convention, when plow trucks blocked the interstate downtown and there were no significant backups.

A Regional Transportation District spokeswoman said the Light Rail system will run Wednesday, including making stops at the DU station. A spokeswoman did admit that could change depending on security and the Secret Service.

"We're going to try to stay open and see what happens," said Pete Contos, owner of Pete's University Park Care at the corner of University Boulevard and Evans Avenue.

Businesses around DU just learned on Monday that University will be closed near campus.

"I hope the city gives us some money back because this is going to hurt us, if we're not busy. If we're busy that's fine," said Contos.

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