Final 18th Street Ped Bridge Rendering

You may recall a few weeks ago I mentioned that the 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge is now under construction in the Central Platte Valley. Chad at OZ Architecture, who designed the new bridge, was kind enough to send me a rendering of the bridge’s final design. Back in May 2007 I posted some early design renderings of the bridge.

Here’s what is being built:

The bridge design features switch-back stairs and elevators at each end, and some high quality materials, such as elevator components clad in copper. The bridge will also have some nighttime illumination. Of course, this bridge is not meant to compete with the iconic Millennium Bridge, but it still looks pretty nice to me.

Next up: construction of the relocated Union Station light rail platform should begin this summer. The extended end of that platform will tie in with the base of this new 18th Street pedestrian bridge.

By | 2009-12-22T13:42:25+00:00 June 10, 2009|Categories: Bicycles, Central Platte Valley, Pedestrians, Union Station, Urban Design|28 Comments


  1. Toast2042 June 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Do you think colorail's concerns about the new light rail station placement are legitimate? Is there anything that can be done at this point even if they are?

  2. Anonymous June 10, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Looks good! With the copper, it will have a "railroad" feel to it.

    Ken, can you comment more on the Union Station lawsuit. I know we need to get this project moving, but we would enjoy your thoughts on especially the future expandability of the station.

  3. Anonymous June 10, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Does look nice. What is up, by the way, with Union Station redevelopment? Someone responding to the Paris post mentioned the lawsuit filed by the Colorado Rail Passenger Association, and I've noticed that RTD is now referring to that suit as one reason why its PPP initiative has been put on hold. I thought that the suit was without merit and would be quickly dismissed, but now I'm wondering if it will seriously slow Union Station's renovation. Any update?

  4. Deb Robison June 10, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    This is awesome! Thanks for charting the progress. Since I live in the neighborhood, I love it that I can keep an eye on the project in person.

  5. Anonymous June 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    What's with the chain link fence on either side of the walkway? Do they expect people to be playing basketball up there?

    This does not to solve the disconnect for bicyclists trying to get downtown either.

  6. Rob June 11, 2009 at 6:27 am

    I wonder why there are no bike ramps. Since it is not on the 16th st Mall it would seem wise to have easy access for the growing number of bicycle commuters.

  7. Saint June 11, 2009 at 9:34 am

    What, no enhanced water feature?

  8. beyonddc June 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Putting the light rail platforms way back in the CPV is a terrible idea, and it suggests that the entire Union Station planning exercise was a sham. It also creates a problem that the next generation will have to fix, at great taxpayer expense. The current plan also treats the historic depot building as an afterthought rather than as the real station. Colorail is right to be angry.

    But at this point I'm not sure what they hope to accomplish with their lawsuit. The ship has sailed.

  9. Matt E June 11, 2009 at 11:39 am

    @Rob: There aren't really any bike ramps on the millennium bridge, either (the pain-in-the-ass rails up the stairs notwithstanding). There are, however, elevators, and AFAIK the design spec for elevators around RTD stations is to have them big enough to accommodate a bike.

    That notwithstanding, there probably isn't enough room for a bike ramp, given that the bridge has to be rather high to clear those double-height container trains that occasionally go through, and that any such ramp would probably have to have a very gentle slope to meet ADA specs.

  10. Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    bikers and wheel chairs use the elevator

  11. Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    The authorities in charge of Union Station would save themselves a lot of grief if they published a sketch showing how platforms would fit next to the CML.

  12. Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I bet the bikes can use the elevator! 😉


  13. Joseph June 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Denver (metro) has become a city of bridges with elevators.

  14. Rob June 12, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Yes I realize bikes can use the elevator. But does the idea of an uninterrupted ride into downtown seem out of the question? If you don't commute by bike you probably would not understand the pain it is to use the elevator. I bet they could have come up with a spiral ramp such at the one on the 16th st bridge over I-25.

  15. Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Years ago I agreed with the position represented in Beyond DC's comment, but I've come around since then and here's why:

    1. The 2 block walk between the light rail and commuter rail is not a deal breaker by any means. That distance between transfers is very common in many of the world's great train stations and airports.

    2. The tourist type passenger is probably going to meander between the two modes above ground along 17th street, which, yes, is bad for Union Station, but good for the pedestrian activity in the area, which we also need. The hurried business traveler is more likely to use the people movers underground, which makes the station (or at least right behind the station) the main point of entry/exit. Once they offer ticketing and concessions in the station, I think you'll see a fair amount of traffic actually passing through the station. It's only a partial afterthought.

  16. Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    If you want an uninterrupted ride into downtown, use 15th.

  17. historymystery June 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    BeyondDC is 100% correct. This is Denver's Union Station, not Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. The latter, which, although it's a bit hard to tell exactly what the station's real footprint is (check it out on Google Earth), occupies, I believe, less land than this combination of light rail/heavy rail/Amtrak/Union Station building. Shinjuku has a couple of million people passing through every 24 hours and is surrounded by tall office buildings, massive 14-level department stores, and a huge number of other things.

    Do the Union Station planners expect that many people? If not, why so much land waste? The whole thing should be re-thought (including creating through-rail capability for high-speed regional trains) before a shovel of dirt is overturned, because the long, long walk between light rail and everything else will be hugely unpopular and counterproductive to the idea of encouraging more people to use public transportation.

  18. Anonymous June 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I don't have a problem with the light rail being a couple blocks away. Spreading things out a bit and making people walk is fine.

    However, the expandability issue has to be addressed. Union station needs to be the hub for High Speed Rail as well. The alternative of building another station is going to be more expensive and less efficient.

    Roger Sherman (Development spokesman)states “We have to be realistic, you can’t plan for the unknown.” (

    Ummm… its not exactly unknown. Talk with the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority ( and if you have to wait for a few months until they know what they need then wait. There is billions of dollars in this. Lets get it done right!

  19. Anonymous June 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Also, if you get high speed rail on board it might open up another source of federal funding.

  20. Anonymous June 15, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I remember about a year ago when the planners found out they couldn't bury the light rail line and end the track into a wall. Is that redesign what caused the walk between transit modes and lack of through transit options, or were those oversights there from the beginning.

  21. Shane June 15, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    No one voted on High Speed Rail. We voted on light rail. If someone wants High Speed Rail at DUS, put it on the ballot and we can vote on it. Otherwise, start building. Really, waiting to build b/c we might build a high speed rail in 10 years that we might want at DUS is ridiculous.

    It's true, we don't know what the needs will be 10, 20, or 50 years from now. Maybe we'll want 3 hubs in the city for high speed rail. Maybe we'll want something else. Who knows – there's no plan.

    If someone wants a future plan, put it on the ballot. Sure it would be nice to acocmodate some potential future plan at DUS at the moment, and it would be nice to have zero walking between transfers, and it would be nice to travel from Longmont to Lone Tree without transferring, but if you wanted to control the specifics of how RTD/Fastraks was run, you should have obtained the appropriate leadership position. That's how a democracy works.

    Holding up this plan just because there may be a future need that we havn't voted on but we're planning for now is unconscionable. Lawsuits can take YEARS to complete. If this project is held up for years, and the costs are increased because of it, I hope the persons who filed the suit are held responsible.

    Again, we didn't vote on high speed rail or some other future transportation need. We voted on light rail.

  22. Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Actually, its not all about light rail. Three light rail, extensions to two light rail, three commuter rail, one bus rapid transit, and a possible future northeast line were approved.

    However, just because high speed rail wasn't voted on doesn't mean you don't make accommodations for future expansion. Part of good urban planning is to plan 10, 20, or 50 years in the future for things that may or may not happen.

    For example, the proposed first phase of high speed rail is a Denver to DIA line. As we all know, Fastracks also has a Denver to DIA line. Are we going to build both of these?! Considering each of the lines is going to cost billions of dollars somebody better find out.

    At some point it is very likely there are going to be two multi billion dollar rail projects in Colorado. Not coordinating them is ridiculous. Only considering present needs is extremely short sighted and unconscionable.

    The lawsuit doesn't have to take years to complete. Try to consider objectively how your plan could be be better. My perspective is that the distance to the light rail line issue is just whining. The underground bus terminal issue perhaps has merit but probably not. Expandability definitely does.

    I'm not going to say DIA was a model of good planning but it did allow for expansion and it is needed. It might even make DIA the busiest airport in the world in a few decades.

    Again, two multi billion dollar rail projects for Colorado must be coordinated.

  23. RTD Watch June 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Well its already established that most of FasTracks in NOT light rail like we voted for. In fact, the only new light rail line that Union Station will serve is the West Corridor already under-construction to Lakewood and Golden.

    The rest of the lines (to DIA, Boulder/Longmont, Arvada and North Metro) are commuter/high speed rail lines (Was the Boulder line always meant to be commuter? I don't remember anymore). Yeah we didn't technically vote for that type of service but apparently RTD forgot to consult with Union Pacific and BNSF on all this, just to find out (after FasTracks passed) that light rail lines are incompatible next to the high-use freight trains lines.

    In a world where RTD actually was capable of pre-planning, this would have been figured out before we voted on it, but it wasn't, so that's what we're getting. And these changes are really why we are having problems now: RTD needs a new maintenance facility for their new types of trains and running into problems from that, the lawsuit would be null because under the original plan, there would be no need for a separation between light and commuter rail. So yeah, we basically are paying for something we didn't ask for and now the whole system will probably cost more and be delayed as a result.

  24. Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    DIA was designed for 50 million people, but its planners had the foresight to purchase enough land so that it could be expanded to 120 million.

  25. Ryan June 16, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    @ RTD Watch: The only corridor that was originally planned as light rail but is now planned as commuter rail is the Gold Line. Look it up.

    That said, the Union Station plan is a disappointment, and classic kowtowing to private development interests.

  26. Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    two lines to the airport is not a huge deal (we will probably end up with multiple, normal speed trains routed to there at some point)

    having a high-speed train present will not be a deterrent to ride, it will just serve a different purpose. undoubtedly it will be more than $3 and will be much faster, have no stops between DIA and downtown, serve more business, skiers and people-running-late business.

  27. Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I fully support the light rail station being located along the railroad tracks instead of closer to Union Station. If you walk the distance to the station it really is not that far at all. With all of the commuter trains stopping right behind Union Station, it will have all of the pedestrian capacity it can handle anyway. Union Station is not all that large, nothing like Grand Central Station or D.C.'s main train station. Also, once all of the CPV is built-up, this area will be a densely developed part of downtown and not the currently barren, un-inviting lots. People will find the area engaging and not mind walking through it, or catching a transfer at the undergroung bus station. I think it is an inefficient use of space to curve the light-rail tracks closer to Union Station because it prevents alot of land from being developed for office, retail, and residential use. Efficiency is not the same as "kowtowing to developers."


  28. Anonymous June 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    The Paris Metro system, which is generally considered one of the best in the world, routinely causes people to walk more than 2 blocks to transfer, and it has done just fine. We are in a sad state indeed, if we view a 2-block walk as some kind of horrible imposition.

Comments are closed.