Denver's construction boom impacting traffic, lanes closed during rush hour

Denver issued 12,800 construction closure permits
Posted at 5:49 PM, Jul 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 21:28:13-04

DENVER -- Like clockwork, every summer, the promise of good weather turns Denver's roads into a sea of orange cones, with workers in reflective vests telling drivers to slow down or stop around lane closures.

This year, with Denver's booming growth, you may have noticed more construction projects are taking a toll on traffic.

Denver7 found private developers are closing city roads -- which you pay for -- at all hours of the day including rush hour and wanted to find out if that’s allowed.

As it turns out, it is.

Denver Public Works said it grants “street occupancy permits,” which give private developers the ability to set up cones and shut down or partially close city streets.

Developers can extend those closures during the morning or afternoon rush hour, but the city said that request comes at double the price.

"Denver Public Works prefers that developers not impact peak travel times, but of course, that's not always achievable," said spokeswoman Heather Burke.

Burke said so far this year the city has issued 12,800 street occupancy permits.

On any given day, this summer, public works said there are at least six roads shutdown or partially closures downtown due to construction. 

"That's about average to what we issued around the same time last year," explained Burke. "We're trying to keep people moving, and we're doing the best we can to try to accommodate the projects."

Burke also said public works considers several factors before approving a permit, including whether there's a Rockies game that day or another closure nearby.

"Denver is growing fast, as we all know, so there's more private development happening in our city" she said.

Anita Hill knows the drill well. She walks by the new high rise apartment complex going up at Speer Boulevard and Bannock Street every day.

For weeks, flaggers have shut down one lane of Bannock in the morning of the morning rush.

"It's hard getting around," said Hill. Wheelchair was getting me around real good, but I had to step it up and get back to my cane."

Hill would like to see more cones at night, and not during the day.

"It's okay if the city gets disturbed in the middle of the night too, because this has to be done, but it is a lot of mess," she said.

Emergency crews are also impacted by the construction.

Denver Fire said they meet every morning to go over where there are full or partial closures, and then crews map out routes around them.

However, fire officials said it can and does add to response times.