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What's Driving You Crazy: Cars parked on the shoulder of Peña Boulevard

Screenshot 2021-09-08 122432.jpg
Posted at 5:20 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 07:25:25-04

Forrest from Conifer writes, “What’s driving you crazy? How come there are so many cars parking on the shoulder of Peña Boulevard right before the airport terminals in clearly marked no parking zones? For as long as I can remember, cops would not allow for people to park there and would give out a very hefty fine for parking. So how come Denver PD is no longer doing anything about these vehicles? The vehicles will have flashers on and parked in the shoulder causing a major safety issue and multiple times. I've had to slam on my brakes for traffic caused by these people.”

Obviously, stopping and parking along a busy Peña Boulevard is not a good idea, especially while airport-bound drivers are whizzing by at 55 mph or faster. Those drivers on Peña create a hazard for those parked on the shoulder, especially when they park on top of the white line separating the right lane from the shoulder. The drivers who are parked also create a hazard for the drivers on Peña, especially if they have to swerve or slow significantly after the driver of a parked vehicle decides to pull out into traffic unexpectedly.

Peña Boulevard is part of Denver International Airport, which is owned and operated by the City and County of Denver. The roadway as well as the airport roads and grounds are patrolled by Denver police officers and airport operations. Yet it appears from several videos sent to me, Denver police are not preventing drivers from stopping on the shoulders of Peña Boulevard and in fact, the parking problem is worse than ever with drivers now stopping on the left as well as the right shoulders.

“DPD have seen an increase in vehicles attempting to park along the shoulder,” said Jay Casillas with the Denver Police Department. “DPD works with HSS Security and Airport Operations to address the issue. Several factors may contribute to the increase including construction along Peña Boulevard and cancelled/delayed flights.”

However, Jeremy Story, vice president at GroundFloor Media, tells me DIA stopped having HSS responsible for patrolling people parking along Peña Boulevard five or six years ago. He said the airport security department apparently absorbed that responsibility.

"HSS does not (and never has) support Peña Boulevard traffic," says Alex Renteria, public information officer for Denver International Airport. "They support curbside traffic at DEN."

In one of the videos sent to me from this past Friday night, I counted well over 100 vehicles parked illegally on the shoulder of Peña Boulevard. Most drivers were waiting on the right shoulder, but some were also standing on the left, very close to the line separating the fast lane from the shoulder.

Rideshare driver Derek tells me this issue has been going on for months. He's mostly frustrated when he calls the airport to report this issue and sees nothing change.

"I get the same to canned response from the airport each time I report something regarding the car is parked on the shoulder. A few days ago I saw a Denver police officer drive by all the offending drivers without stopping, he did not have his lights on or anything, he just kept driving by them. Passengers that I’m taking to and from the airport routinely ask me why people are parked there, I tell them that they’re parked illegally, and the airport does nothing about it."

Officials at the airport tell me they become concerned when drivers coming to DIA to pick up a passenger pull over on Peña as the shoulder space is limited and people in adjacent lanes are traveling at high speeds.

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“That is why we have a designated spot for drivers to pull off the road safely and wait for their loved one,” says Renteria. “Final Approach, the cell phone waiting lot, is easily accessible for passengers and a much safer option than pulling over on the shoulder of Peña.”

The Final Approach waiting area is located just off Peña Blvd from the 75th Avenue exit. Instead of using one of the 253 available parking spaces, I counted in the videos sent to me, a very large number of drivers using the exit to pull off to the shoulder of the exit ramp. On the website for the Final Approach it reads, “For safety reasons vehicles are not allowed to park on Peña Boulevard or roadways leading to Jeppesen Terminal,” but according to drivers who drive Peña Boulevard, that is not what is happening.

DIA officials say people coming to the airport can park in the garage next to the terminal for $5 per hour or use the Short Term lot for $6 per hour. Renteria tells me they continue to try to educate drivers and passengers through their social media channels, their website and overhead signs to attempt to curb the illegal parking problem.

“We have been working with Denver police on this issue and continue to look for ways to ensure passengers follow the rules and wait in our cell phone waiting lot,” Renteria says.

“Officers are conducting regular patrols all over the DEN area. It is a safety hazard that DPD tries to address,” Casillas said.

Denver police would not provide me with staffing numbers to compare the number of officers on duty this year compared to years past at the airport, but did say there has not been any change to staffing in those areas.

Denver police said if they see a driver stopping on the shoulder of Peña Boulevard, officers will first ask a driver to leave the area and move on. They said if they do write a ticket, the citation is “No Parking/Tow Away Zone” with a fine of $50.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.