Denver – The Hub City We Didn’t Expect

photo 1 (3)We’ve known for a while that Union Station is amazing.  We’ve blogged about how amazing Union Station actually is.  We’ve gone to the new restaurants in Union Station and thought, “wow, this is pretty spectacular.”  But to a traveler…Union Station is epic.

Today as I was walking down 16th St. Mall I saw a couple pulling rolling suitcases behind them.  Normally a person would think that was out-of-place, because downtown Denver is so far from Denver International Airport.  However, this isn’t out-of-place anymore because now Union Station is not only a Denverite destination, but a hub for travelers of all kinds. Epic.

From Union Station you could take the light rail around and outside the city, a bus to Boulder and beyond, or a train to the mountains.  Soon the light rail will connect to DIA and the transportation loop will be complete.  Denver tends to be very car-based.  Parking is always an (expensive) issue.  Apparently this is reminiscent of when Denver was in the “Old West” and we took our horses everywhere we went.  Now, our horses have been replaced by our cars.

Our cars, however, are also a problem.  Traffic in Denver is at a high, and all of the construction projects on I-25 that are intended to help traffic, aren’t helping us at the moment.  Union Station was built as a transportation solution back then, and it’s been renovated as a transportation solution once again.

photo 2 (3)FasTracks was voted in, which brought us our Light Rail and widened I-25 (remember TRex?).  At a budget of $7.8 billion, taxpayers were left wanting more.  Now, we have transportation *almost* everywhere in the Denver metro area.  The only thing that is missing is the northern sections going to Westminster, Boulder, and Longmont.  Hopefully the “amazing-ness” of Union Station will show northerners what they’re missing.

In the future, there are more transportation plans in the works.  By 2016 there should be a bus transit system along highway 36.  It’s not a light rail, but it’s something better than fighting through highway 36 traffic.  By 2018, most of the FasTracks lines should be complete with nine rail lines, 18 miles of bus transit, and 95 transportation stations.

FasTracks supporters say that Denver will rival impressive transportation cities, such as Portland, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.  In my mind, these cities are huge, so of course you would use public transportation.  Denver is often thought of as a “small” city, but it is becoming anything but.  New developments are sprouting all over the “outside” of the city, which will soon just be thought of as the city.

Denver has so many little neighborhoods, such as such as the Golden Triangle, Cherry Creek, Congress Park, and the Highlands, outside of Downtown that are quickly becoming integrated into the transportation grid.  Transportation to these areas will be crucial for Denverites, and getting there in more ways than the bus system will be important as well.  These areas are rapidly growing communities with insufficient means of getting downtown quickly.

photo 3 (1)Union Station has been drawing in all sorts of people to downtown Denver.  Today, there were kids playing in the new fountains, people lounging in the loveseats waiting for tables, and travelers hanging out in the natural light at the Station.  It was quite a sight to see, just like Denver’s transportation future.


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