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Denver Union Station Update #123

Earlier this month, on DenverUrbanism, we reported that the lighting on the new Commuter Rail train hall canopy was being tested. We weren’t entirely sure if the lighting would be on every night or if we had to wait until the Union Station project was complete. The answer is, the train hall appears to be lit up every night.

I recently took a little photo adventure and decided to take some photos of the canopy. Needless to say, it is very impressive at night and it looks outstanding.


We already know a bunch of infill is going to be built around the the canopy. This will give the train station a great urban feel while still being a very impressive station in between all of the new buildings. Here are some additional shots with The Platform tower rising just to the west of the canopy.


To think, it was just over a year ago we saw the first structural elements of the canopy go up. A lot has happened since then! In case you missed it, make sure you head over to DenverUrbanism for a great in depth tour from inside the canopy!

Denver Union Station Update #122

It’s been about six weeks since we last looked at the massive Denver Union Station redevelopment so not a lot has changed. However, in our last update we looked at the project from afar and didn’t really get a closer look at all of the great individual elements. Unfortunately, this isn’t an inside tour but, armed with a great zoom lens and thanks to some great vantage points around Union Station, I was able to get some great close up shots. So you can see more detail, I bumped up the resolution on all these photos. Make sure you click to embiggen!

Let’s start off with the 18th Street pedestrian bridge. This is very similar to the Millennium Bridge when coming from Downtown. The elevator will be situated to the left with a bike track on the side of the stairs so you don’t have to carry your bike over the bridge. On the Union Station side, there are four sets of stairs going down to the commuter rail platforms which will also lead you to Wewatta Street.


The metal screen that is going across the bridge isn’t at all intrusive. You will be able to watch the trains under you and still feel out in the open!


The north side of Wynkoop Plaza is coming along very nicely. The trees have been planted, the hardscaped benches are starting to get installed, and it looks like it will only be a matter of time before we will start to see the granite pavers go in.


Here is an above view of the north side of Wynkoop Plaza.

The south side of the plaza is not as far along as the north side because of a few reasons: The South Wing building started after the North Wing, and since this side of the plaza will have the magnificent fountain feature, a lot more underground work had to be completed first. The fountains however are looking more and more complete!


Speaking of the Wing Buildings, they are also starting to come together making a huge difference along Wynkoop Street. The first floor of these buildings will be ground floor retail and 4-stories of office space above. Floors 2 through 4 are covered in brick and the 5th floor has a modern glassy facade. Both buildings have glass curtain walls facing the plazas. Here is the North Wing Building which will be occupied by IMA Financial.


And the South Wing Building which will be occupied by Antero Resources.


Now let’s head over to the commuter rail train hall. There has been a lot of concern about shelter from the elements when waiting for the train. Fear not! If you look closely you can see each platform will have some kind of shelter. Plus, we have 300 or so days of sunshine a year, we wouldn’t want to be completely enclosed while waiting for the train!


Here are a couple more shots of the completed commuter rail canopy. The land towards 16th Street in front of the canopy is part of the L-Shaped ‘A Block’ and will get developed one day so let’s enjoy this great open view of the canopy while it lasts; not saying having it closed in wouldn’t be a great sight as well!


Let’s wrap up with a shot of the newly opened Wewatta Street. It isn’t very pedestrian friendly at the moment because of three factors: 21-story, 13-story, and 10-story buildings are all under construction between 16th and 17th Street! Also, if you look closely, you can see the continuation of the 17th Street Gardens in the foreground of the Wewatta Pavilion.

May 9th is the day we will be able to experience the brand new Union Station. 8 months to go!

Denver Union Station Update #114

Many of you have been down at Denver Union Station for the opening of the W-Line and probably noticed construction keeps on rolling. This is a very exciting time in this whole redevelopment because we are starting to see everything come together.

A month ago, both wing buildings were barely out of the ground. Now, the south wing building has one floor until it tops out while the north wing building has two floors to go.


Wynkoop Plaza is also coming along nicely. If you remember Ken’s last Union Station update, these are going to be very impressive fountains which extend the entire length of the south wing of the historic station.


On the north side of the canopy structure, the pedestrian bridge has started to take shape. This is the bridge that will be connected to the north wing building giving you access to the commuter rail platforms and the underground bus facility from Wynkoop Street.


There are three rail platforms that stop short of the canopy. Construction for these platforms has also started.


Between the redevelopment of Denver Union Station and all of the private sector development going on, this is quite the site to see! Head down there to check it out and ride the W-Line if you haven’t yet! Also, make sure to keep checking DenverUrbanism for the next few days for some W-Line greatness!

RTD West Line Countdown at DenverUrbanism!

We’re now only four days away from the grand opening of RTD’s West Line to Golden! To celebrate the occasion, we are doing a five-day countdown over at DenverUrbanism: each day a new transit-related post. Then, after our Opening Day post this Friday, we’ll do another five-day’s worth of transit posts (a “countup”!) to continue the celebration.

Photo credit: Ryan Dravitz

So, make sure you check out DenverUrbanism every day to help commemorate Denver’s rail transit system growing by another 12 miles!

Denver Union Station Update #112

Every time I go and take pictures of this redevelopment, I am more and more impressed with it. Last week, Ken posted a great top down picture of the train canopy structure in his last Union Station update. Today, we will be on the ground looking at a couple of additional angles of the canopy structure as well as checking in on the wing buildings.

First on our list is the South Wing building also known as One Union Station. If you remember from a few months back, Antero Resources leased a good portion of this building which helped get it off the ground. This building has risen above street level and work has begun on the second floor!


On the other side of the historic station, the North Wing building is also making some great progress. It is now two floors up with work starting on the third floor. As a refresher, IMA Financial will be occupying the majority of this wing building and both buildings will top out at five stories.


And now for a couple of additional shots of the completed canopy structure. This is a such an impressive structure and will definitely stand as a Denver landmark. The picture to the left is looking straight through the canopy from the north and on the right is a side view from the west.


Do you want to see all of this in person and know what you’re looking at? Well here’s your chance! Meet Ken at 2:50 PM this Saturday over by the three concrete stacks in the Light Rail Plaza. Here you will get some great information about the Denver Union Station redevelopment and a great walk-around tour. Head on over here for additional details and we will see you Saturday!

Denver Union Station Update #95

By Andy Vuong

Today’s update is all about pavers! We have lots of progress on the walkways that lead away from the light rail station and surround the tear drop planters. The pavers not only look nice, but are also easier to maintain due to how they are installed. For the walkways, several colors of pavers (beige, grey, and red) are being used and will form a series of shapes and angles that will break up the space nicely.

It’s taken about 6 weeks to get to the progress shown in the picture above, so we can probably expect the pavers to continue to be laid down for another couple of months. How many pavers do you think it’s going to take to complete the entire walkway?

Andy Vuong is a management consultant who lives and works in the Union Station neighborhood and is an avid proponent of urban density. Andy will be providing updates on the Union Station project as a back-up to Rick, our regular Union Station project blogger. DenverInfill’s Andy Vuong is not the same person as the Denver Post writer of the same name.   

Upcoming Milestones at Denver Union Station

Now that the new light rail station is open at Denver Union Station, a number of people have asked me, “So, what’s next?” To answer that question, here is a list of milestones relating to the new Union Station transit center project that you’ll see over the next few years. Keep in mind that most of these dates are tentative and may shift around a bit as the project advances, but this should give you a general idea of the sequence of upcoming milestones for the project.

  • August 2011: New light rail station opens. Wewatta detour begins. 16th Street Mall and shuttle service extended to new station.
  • Late 2011: Development team selected by RTD for renovation/reuse of historic station.
  • Early 2012: Construction begins on north wing building (IMA Financial HQ). Construction on south wing building will likely begin in 2012 as well.
  • Early/mid 2012: Construction begins on historic station and Wynkoop Plaza.
  • Early/mid 2013: West corridor light rail opens with service to Union Station.
  • Late 2013/Early 2014: Underground bus facility at Union Station opens. Market Street Station closes. Downtown Circulator service begins.
  • Mid-2014: Commuter rail station and all remaining project elements are completed. Amtrak moves back to Union Station.
  • January 2016: East Corridor commuter rail line to DIA opens with service to Union Station.
  • Mid-2016: Gold Line commuter rail line to Arvada/Wheat Ridge opens with service to Union Station.

Except for the two wing buildings, not included in the list are the private-sector developments planned for around the station. It is highly likely several of these will break ground within the next few years. Obviously, we’ll report on those when they are announced. Also, if I receive more accurate schedule information, I’ll edit/update this list.

West Corridor Progress, Part 3

We left our tour at the Oak Station site. From there, we will travel west to the end of the line at the Jefferson County Government Center Station while passing the new St. Anthony’s Hopsital and Red Rocks Community College.

As I mentioned in the last post, initial construction activities are underway at the Oak Station site. As the guideway manuevers its way through the Lakewood Technological Park, it turns to the south as it approaches Simms Street.  You can see that foundations for the catenary poles are in place and the guideway has been graded already.


The tracks will pass just to the east of the old Kacey Fine Furniture building off of the 6th Avenue frontage road. From there, the tracks will cross the 6th Avenue Bridge – the crown jewel of the West Corridor project. The massive basket-handled tied arch bridge was fully constructed at the manufacturer’s site in Oregon, then dismantled and brought to Denver. It took 34 truck shipments to deliver all the pieces of the bridge. It was then reconstructed just south of 6th Avenue and rolled across the highway on May 1. The bridge was pushed across the highway by two, eight-axled, 35′ hydraulic ram platforms. This was the first time that this type of bridge was rolled out using this method in the U.S.

The bridge has 1.2 million pounds of structural steel and nearly 55,000 high-strength structural bolts. The arches and cables will provide most of the structural support of the bridge. The bridge is 43 feet wide – wide enough for two light rail tracks – and nearly 65 feet high from the top of the arch to the bottom support beam. The weight of the tracks and ballast crossing the bridge is more than that of the structural steel in the bridge itself. The bridge support columns can support 2.7 million pounds and a sustained wind of 100 mph. There are 44 cables on the bridge, each 2 3/8″ in diameter and nearly 1,950 feet long. They have a breaking force of nearly 688,000 pounds – that’s 344 tons! The 6th Avenue Bridge uses “weathering steel” which will rust to a dark purple/brown color and form a protextive oxide coating which eliminates the need for painting now and in the future without threatening any structural integrity (this also saved RTD money). The cables will be lit by white LED lights once the bridge is complete.

The arches lean inward (hence the basket-handle name) so much so that they are 27 feet closer at the top of the bridge than at the track deck. Each arch can withstand nearly 3 million pounds of compressive force and will expand nearly 3.5 inches during extreme temperatures. The arches are supported on their own bearings by the piers on either side of 6th Avenue. There are also expansion joints at each end of the arches to facilitate temperature movements. Oddly, the shape of the arch is derived from a mathematical equation emulating the equation used to describe the force of gravity. Hopefully someone can tell me what that means – I’m a planner, not a mathematician.

2010_11_08_WCBridge01 2010_11_08_WCBridge03

2010_11_08_WCBridge04 2010_11_08WCBridge02

Once the trains cross 6th Avenue, they will head onto former Denver Federal Center property and travel south towards the new St. Anthony’s Hospital just west of Union Boulevard at 2nd Street. The new hopsital – which is oddly Lakewood’s first – opens sometime next year. The existing Cold Springs park-n-Ride at 6th and Simms/Union will be relocated next summer to the new Federal Center park-n-Ride just north of 2nd Street across from the hospital. The site today is a vacant lot, but construction should start within the next few months.

2010_11_08_WCTrackway01 2010_11_08_FedCtrStation01

The corridor will be single track from the Federal Center Station west to the end-of-line station at the Jefferson County Government Center, but double track from the Federal Center Station into Downtown. The Cold Springs p-n-R needs to moved to make way for a tunnel which will be constructed underneath Union Boulevard. Not much in the way of major construction can occur on the tunnel until the p-n-R moves. However, the corridor’s future path can be seen leading up to the p-n-R.


The corridor will then travel on the south side of 6th Avenue, sandwiched in between the frontage road and the highway. All of the construction work seen when you travel along 6th Avenue is the light rail guideway. The Red Rocks Community College Station has construction activity underway. Crews are forming the foundations for the shelters and the platform. There will be no parking at this station and I haven’t heard any word regarding a connection with the college. It’s a bit of a walk from the station site south to the college – hopefully something will be worked out.

2010_11_08_RedRocksStation01 2010_11_08_RedRocksStation02

There are a lot of cool machines at work along the corridor. At first glance, this one is pretty awesome - it beats post hole diggers. However, it is the without a doubt, one of the most annoyingly loud machines I have ever heard. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard as it lumbers along the highway.


If the basket-handled bridge at 6th and Simms is the crown jewel of the West Corridor, the Indiana Bridge is arguably a close second. The bridge is made of both concrete and steel and is the longest bridge on the corridor, spanning 1,531 feet. The 11-span bridge uses three independent construction frames – the first and third (those spanning the onramps) use a post-tensioned concrete box girder system while the middle span uses three steel plate girders. The center span over 6th Avenue is the longest single span in the corridor, reaching 270 feet. The tallest columns are over 40 feet high, which allows for future construction of a ramp between 6th Avenue to I-70. Like the 6th Avenue Bridge, the Indiana Bridge uses the same “weathering steel” which will rust to a dark purple/brown color. The Indiana Bridge will also have the rails attached directing to the bridge deck to make its load lighter. The bridge is only 20 feet wide, but trains will travel east and westbound intermittently. The 7.2 million pound bridge took 48,000 cubic feet of concrete and 128,000 feet of steel post-tensioning strand to complete.

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The tracks will then head west on the north side of 6th Avenue and travel underneath I-70 in an already excavated tunnel. It’s hard to get a picture of the tunnel without risking life and limb, so we’ll have to settle for this view a little further out.


The trains will then cross over Colfax at 6th Avenue on a 4.6 million pound, 696 foot long, six-span bridge. The bridge has 266,000 pounds of reinforcing steel and 4.3 million pounds of concrete. The bridge will also have the tracks attached directly to the bridge deck to make the span lighter. The bridge was built without approach ramps, but those were added as construction along the corridor moved ahead. The ramp from westbound 6th Avenue to eastbound Colfax will be realigned to interface with the bridge once its complete. The bridge still carries the same design theme we saw earlier along the corridor near Wadsworth and Sheridan. There is also more construction staging occuring on this end of the corridor as well as can be seen with the concrete tie storage underneath the bridge.

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The corridor will then travel just south of the Golden Cemetary at 6th and Ulysses before crossing at grade at Johnson Road into the Jefferson County Government Center complex. The tracks will pass through a hill which was located west of Johnson Road. The cut to access to JCGC complex and the future park-n-Ride is shored up by what is known as a “soil mill wall,” which uses a top-down construction method where crews excavate about five feet of soil, place tensioned support strands in the soil, pour concrete over it, then repeat the process over and over until the entire wall is complete. The cut is visible just to the left of the ramp from C-470 in the pictures below. The walls have a texture on them resembling some kind of a rocky surface. There will be a new RTD parking garage constructed just south of the existing parking at the JCGC to handle the end-of-line station. To watch the construction progress at this station, check out for a webcam and still photos of the site.

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That’s all for this West Corridor update. We’ll revisit this in the future before the corridor is open in 2013 to see how the corridor has changed. In the mean time, check out for more information on the West Corridor!