DENVER (KDVR) — The City and County of Denver announced Thursday that two blocks in the Lower Downtown neighborhood will be temporarily closed during nights this weekend.
The closures are happening in response to requests from residents and nearby businesses to better manage crowds and traffic and improve safety in the area, according to a press release.
The hospitality group that represents Whiskey Row, Riot Hospitality, was one of the businesses that raised concerns.
“With the scary incident that happened several weeks ago, our group became organically larger and even more concerned about safety and security.” Lissa Druss, Riot Hospitality spokesperson, told FOX31’s Gabby Easterwood.
Druss said they’ve been speaking with officials for over a year about the benefits of closing roads in high-traffic bar areas.
“We have experience in other cities — Scottsdale, Chicago, and Nashville — where streets are closed on the weekends, and we wanted to emulate the same thing in LoDo, because for us it’s all about safety,” Druss said.
One of those officials speaking with the group was Denver Council Member Chris Hinds. He visited the area during peak hours to see for himself.
“There seems to be a lot of gridlock with the sheer amount of vehicles there, fair amount of people getting dropped off or picked up with rideshare or with friends, and it really just seems to be a chaotic environment,” Hinds said.
Will closing LoDo streets help with crowds?
The city is piloting these closures to see how they might impact crowd management and congestion in the area.
Market Street will be closed between 19th Street and 20th Street, and Larimer Street will be closed between 20th Street and 21st Street. The closures will be in place Friday and Saturday nights from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
“Removing traffic flow and parked vehicles from these two blocks will also increase officers’ visibility of potentially dangerous or illegal activity occurring so that it can be quickly addressed,” the press release read.
Parking meters in the closed areas will be bagged while traffic is diverted around the area, and removed afterward so people can park there during the day. Police say parking meters will be closed earlier than the shutdown time, starting at around 5-6 p.m.
Riot Hospitality is grateful this is happening this weekend but said they want this to be a permanent closure during peak times. Police say that’s not out of the question, but want to see how this weekend goes, saying it could be implemented again during busy weekends — like the Colorado Rockies home opener.
The Denver Police Department and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will gauge whether the closures have a positive impact and whether the roads will be closed for safety and crowd management again in the future.