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Denver Sees Some Traffic Safety Improvements With Vision Zero Program

DENVER (CBS4) - Traffic in Denver is nearly constant, and collisions between cars – and people – can be common. The city has been trying to make streets safer with the Vision Zero program which is aimed at preventing all traffic-related deaths in Denver by 2030.

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"You've got a lot of people who just don't give a damn that'll walk in the middle of the street for no reason," Bart Case, who works at a restaurant on East Colfax, said.

All the more reason why the city is continuing to ramp up efforts to make streets like East Colfax safer.

"There's a lot of traffic," said Brenton Weyi, who lives in the Cap Hill neighborhood, said. "Many lights where cars are going in five different directions at the same time."

As part of the Vision Zero program, crews with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) are implementing treatments on East Colfax to reduce conflicts between people driving and walking. In addition to more safety signage, DOTI added a hardened center line that uses rubber curbing to slow left turning vehicles.

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They're also almost finished with installing plastic bollards at 15 intersections to protect pedestrians who may need to stop in the middle of the road. Those improvements cost about $120,000 according to a DOTI spokesperson.

"The little plastic things in the middle of the street, I mean, it's kind of ridiculous for the cost, in my opinion," Case told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

DOTI recently released a report revealing some of their efforts to improve safety which they say are making a difference. In 2017, the city upgraded 10 intersections along S. Federal Boulevard between Alameda and Evans Avenues by adding pedestrian countdown signals and modifying late-night signal timing to stop vehicles at more regular intervals.

According to the report, zero fatalities occurred along that stretch in 2018 and 2019, down from 8 in 2016-2017.

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"They're going in the right direction, I believe," Case said. "But they can do better."

The city recognizes that with 70 people killed on its streets in 2019, a DOTI press release states, there is more work to be done. In 2020, Denver will continue to focus its efforts on the city's "High Injury Network" – areas with the highest number of fatal and serious injury crashes.

That plan includes the project on East Colfax, target safety education and public awareness around the Vision Zero plan, and continuing sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.

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