Will Streetcars Make a Comeback in Denver?

December 23 2010, 3:00 PM

Back in the early 1900s, street railways wound through Denver's neighborhoods, from Highland to the 16th Street Viaduct. One picture at DenverStreetcars.net, taken on an unknown date, portrays a streetcar rolling down Broadway at 12th Avenue displaying a billboard advertisement for a Fourth of July picnic at Elitch's, then on 38th Avenue and Tennyson Street.

Those century-old vehicles could return to Denver depending on the outcome of a $2 million study funded by the Federal Transit Administration, which is looking at "East Colfax Avenue and parallel streets between downtown Denver and the Anschutz/Fitzsimons medical campus in Aurora," writes the Denver Business Journal, citing a statement from federal officials. "This congested corridor links economically diverse neighborhoods, downtown Denver, the state Capitol, and a large medical campus. The need for this project centers on high bus ridership and crowding," says the FTA. Denver has entertained the idea of introducing modern versions of streetcars for some time on the city's Colfax Streetcar Feasibility Study web page, which points to possible economic benefits. 

State Senator Suzanne Williams, an Aurora Democrat, tells the Sentinel she's "glad the discussion is still alive" after co-sponsoring a failed bill earlier this year that proposed using vehicle-registration fees to construct a 10-mile streetcar line from the Anschutz Medical Campus to the Auraria Campus.