By Eric Heinz
The Sunnyside United Neighbors Inc. (SUNI) recently sent a letter of opposition to the Denver City Council asking for the city to consider a focus on pedestrian and alternative traffic in addition to vehicles for the planned bridge connector to the Fox Park development.
Bobby Vondrasek, the neighborhood association’s Land Use Committee chair who authored the letter, told The Denver North Star that the neighborhood association is not opposing a connection to Fox Park by way of Sunnyside, but members want the bridge to accommodate less vehicular traffic.
“We’re trying to kind of work through the background and the city council to kind of see if we can come to a better decision,” Vondrasek said. “We’re talking about trying to make things more walkable, pedestrian- friendly, less reliant on vehicles, all sorts of things.”
In the letter, SUNI stated the city’s following of the 41st and Fox Next Steps Study that was completed in 2021 relied on outdated regulations and strategies.
“The regulations exhaustively consider addressing transit with vehicles, but it is unclear if the rules ever considered the commuter rail line, buses, pedestrian traffic, or bicycle traffic as transit options to and from the area,” the letter stated.
Looking at cost and feasibility, the city has chosen to examine the construction of a bridge from the Fox Park development site to Sunnyside as opposed to a tunnel that would have traveled north farther into Globeville.
The development team originally planned to construct either a tunnel that would run traffic through Globeville under I-70 to connect to 48th Avenue, or a multimodal bridge that would run traffic through the northeast corner of the Sunnyside neighborhood at 47th Avenue.
The bridge is estimated to cost about $28 million, whereas the tunnel would have been about $40 million. According to the Fox Park development team, the tunnel would have also entered into an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site.
“We’re not opposing because it’s a connection in Sunnyside or we don’t want any connections to Sunnyside,” Vondrasek said. “We absolutely do, but we want something that changes the dynamics.”
The bridge is being paid for with the help of the city’s tax increment financing process that backs public infrastructure, but Vondrasek said there could be other opportunities to finance what SUNI wants as part of the connector.
Amanda Weston, a spokesperson for Denver’s Community Planning and Development department, said the city is also trying to improve the connections to the RTD 41st and Fox Station, an important public transportation hub for the incoming developments.
“Based on the feasibility study, the best option for the northern connection is a twolane, fully multi-modal bridge on 47th Avenue connecting to Sunnyside,” Weston said. “The 47th Avenue bridge is most consistent with adopted plans and the most technically feasible as it will provide a fully multi-modal connection.”
The Fox Park development is planned to be a mixed-use urban hub with an estimated 3,300 units for up to 6,000 people to call home, in addition to 34,000 square feet of retail, 80,000 square feet of culture and entertainment facilities, 14 acres of interconnected parks and open space, and other amenities.
The development area announced last year that it is also planning to host the World Trade Center’s headquarters.