Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring/Summer 2024

16┃ Colorado Public Works Journal INDUSTRY INSIGHTS feature by Sean Vincent O’Keefe As the newly minted Executive Director of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) for the City and County of Denver, Amy Ford has her sights set on making Denver an even better place to live. She took the job as steward of Denver’s built environment in January of 2024 and immediately homed in on the top priority – public safety. “DOTI is focused on increasing public mobility and safety while reducing congestion and fighting climate change,” says Ford of the stated mandate. “We are a large organizational body of some 1,500 employees. These people are working with between three and four hundred million dollars annually to manage and maintain some three to four billion dollars’ worth of public infrastructure across Denver. This includes roads, bridges, traffic apparatus, city-owned buildings, solid waste, recycling, and now, even the sidewalks. Along with Mayor Johnston, my biggest objective is to reduce the number of annual traffic fatalities that occur on Denver streets.” Research reveals that fatalities associated with vehicular accidents in Denver and across Colorado have increased annually since about 2010. Statewide, CDOT reported 407 fatal accidents in 2011. In 2023, Colorado reached an unfortunate all-time high of 699. In Denver, there are approximately 220 vehicle-involved accidents a day. By far, the number one cause is preventable driver negligence and speed. Aptly named Vision Zero, the new moniker quantifies Denver’s goal of zero traffic-related deaths or serious injuries by 2030. As of April 17, 2024, according to the tracker on the website, there have been 15 traffic-related deaths in Denver in 2024, the last occurring on April 10th. There were 83 fatalities in 2023. Denver and Ford have also been formalizing policies that prioritize people and safety in how the department designs, builds, and operates its transportation system. “In March, we formalized a policy that prioritizes people,” says Ford of a deliberate shift in Denver Moves Everyone stratification of mobilities. Recognizing that everyone is a pedestrian at some point during every trip regardless of mode of travel, the policy seeks to rebalance the transportation system to prioritize people walking or rolling first, followed by people biking or using micromobility, followed by freight, and finally, people driving. “This is a mode shift in how we think about automobiles compared to pedestrians, bicyclists, personal mobility, and public transit,” she continues. “Strategies like the bikeway arterial along South Broadway enhance equal access to the road in congested areas.” Asked what she would like the built environment’s many service providers to know about doing business with DOTI, Ford shares that expectations and benefits of Denver’s investments continue to increase. “I am looking for teammates who share Denver’s vision and values,” says Ford. “More than just collaboration, we need partnerships demonstrating strong commitments to equity, sustainability, and decarbonization. Of course, we want problem-solvers and topnotch expertise, but infrastructure is not just about design and construction. In 2024, good infrastructure development should also involve investing in small and diverse businesses, helping to mentor emerging companies, training young people, and generally uplifting others. Show us how you plan to do that.” Among design and construction programs, of course, the City and County of Denver has a few things going on. The reconstruction of 16th Street Mall is in progress and expected to extend in phases into the fall of 2025. Meanwhile, work is also ongoing along Morrison Road, where DOTI aims to make the streetscape safer, and more people oriented. The project will narrow the street, expand sidewalks and add pedestrian crossings, and add traffic calming, and landscape features to enhance safety and vibrance. Amy Ford l Executive Director, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure “Denver is a smart, dynamic, and still young city. The team at DOTI is devoted to making it better in every way we can.”