Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DNCC: Denver transportation will be different

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

In a response to my comments that Denver's transportation problems could be just as bad as previous conventions, the DNCC (Democratic National Convention Committee) notes:

The convention in Denver is likely to be less disruptive than in previous cities because of the Pepsi Center's walking-distance proximity to many hotels and post-Convention event venues. This will greatly reduce the number of buses in use in Denver vs. prior Convention host cities. In addition, the number of parking lots arond the Pepsi Center (as compared to the Fleet Center in Boston) will allow for more space to sort people and stage buses around Convention hours, again, minimizing disruption. This combination of a high number of walking-distance hotels and post-Convention event venues AND considerable lot space around the Convention venue is something we have not had at least as far back as the '96 Convention in Chicago.
Having seen buses lined up on closed streets around previous convention sites, available parking lots adjacent to the site should make things easier in Denver.


Gabe Stein said...

Thanks as always for the blogging Matt, you do a nice job.

As for the transportation issue...the Pepsi Center does have a fair amount of and empty space and parking lots around it, and it's exactly not in the "heart" of downtown with the characteristic narrow and one-way streets and lack of parking. The ramp off of I-25 (Denver's main artery through downtown) to the Pepsi Center was redone fairly recently and can handle a larger volume of traffic than most ramps.

There's also the issue of the light rail which was recently expanded to service downtown from the hotel-rich Tech Center, which some delegates could ride in on. I'm not sure if having anyone stay 10+ miles from the convention site is in the plans, but at the very least it will alleviate some stress because it does stop right at the Pepsi Center.

The thing I believe they're being overly optimistic about is people walking to and from hotels. The Pepsi Center isn't really that close to many large hotels. I'm guessing at least a 10 minute walk to the closest ones, and through a big-city downtown at night. It can be done, and certainly some people will take advantage of it, but it's not like the Hyatt is right next door.

With this in mind, it wouldn't surprise me to see a temporary expansion of Light Rail service during convention week. Right now the Light Rail splits at 10th and Osage and runs down two corridors into downtown. One of them goes past the convention center/hyatt and into the heart of down town, and the other loops around past Invesco Field and the Pepsi Center. Most of the hotels are on the convention center route, while the Pepsi Center is obviously on the other line. I don't know if it's physically possible in terms of tracks, but I would like to see a special "Convention Line" running from the northern 30th and Downing end of the green line around the 16th St. Mall loops and then around to the stadium loop instead of down the southern corridor, ending at the bottom of the 16th St. Mall. This would effectively link almost all of the downtown hotels with the Pepsi Center. Of course, those staying on or near 16th St. could just take the free mall ride down to the bottom of 16th and take the Light Rail one stop to the Pepsi Center, but these are small buses that are already crowded at peak hours and having to get off, walk to and wait for the Light Rail for just one stop isn't going to appeal to everyone.

It's going to be interesting.

Matt said...

Gabe, thanks for the comments. Keep us up-to-date on any light rail expansion.

Anonymous said...

yes, the tracks already exist to do such a convention line.

I think the only obstacle to people walking to and from the convention is navigation. The closest downtown hotels are just over a half mile away, with the rest just over a mile--that's not too far. It will be nice out and there will be traffic as an incentive to walk. It will give them a chance to talk about politics or things that happened to them (i.e. how close they got to obama etc.) People don't mind walking, they often ask if it is possible to walk somewhere. They just want to know where they are going.

If Denver wants to encourage walking, they should make it easier to navigate. Signs or sidewalk spray paintings that tell you are on the right path to a particular hotel would be an excellent idea. At the National Zoo, they have animal foot prints that lead you to particular exhibits. Denver should think about something like that for the hotels. I'm sure there will be guides directing peds too.

Another option would be to have a temporary shuttle bus, something like the ones up in Boulder (the hop) that run continuous loops. The city could devise a route that hits most of the hotels and circulates to the Pepsi Center, running perhaps every couple minutes. This could be a bit expensive, the city could perhaps borrow available buses from CU Boulder and Boulder's transit system.

In any case it would be a bad idea to just depend on the normal transportation system without giving additional options just for the convention.

Gabe Stein said...

Thanks for info, and it looks like I missed your previous post about the light rail. Well, you know what they say about great minds...