The Alameda Avenue Bridge is nearing the end of its shine

The Alameda Avenue Bridge spans the South Platte River and the South Platte River Trail.  There is a large red crane on top of the bridge and there is no traffic on the path below.  Beautiful blue sky above.

CDOT is about to take down the very old Alameda Avenue bridge over the South Platte River. May 31, 2024.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The Alameda Avenue bridge over the South Platte River is in the Ship of Theseus era and is slowly being replaced as it is still in use for motorists and a few pedestrians and cyclists.

The bridge, built in 1911 (and last renovated in 1966), was the oldest in our national highway network. All this to say it needed an upgrade.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has already replaced the north half and added a sidewalk there as well.

This week they will start demolishing the southern half. As of this writing, CDOT has not posted any road closure notices on the project’s website.

A baby blue Volkswagen Beetle drives over what appears to be new asphalt on the Alameda Avenue bridge.  In the distance a crane stands high.
The north side of the Alameda Avenue bridge over the South Platte River has been replaced; the other side will soon be history. May 31, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The South Platte River Trail below Alameda remains closed

Denver Parks and Rec closed that segment in April 2023 to make way for bridge reconstruction. Trail users should go to street level and wait for the traffic light to cross Alameda. Last year, Parks and Rec told us the bike path would have to open before the bridge was completed.

A few people at that stoplight told us that the detour is really hindering their trips. Patrick Coughlin, who occasionally takes this route north, told us he was afraid of Alameda the entire drive.

“It’s just nice that both sides of the detour are fun, great. Then I get stuck in traffic, where cycling is somewhat dangerous,” he said. “I feel least safe here.”

A man on a green Lime Bike pulls into a crosswalk as a truck carrying construction cones passes him on the left and a car on the right drives into Alameda, making it look like he's threading a needle of chaos.
A cyclist crosses Alameda Avenue as the South Platte River Trail below is blocked by construction. May 31, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Still, Coughlin said he understands that upgrades need to happen.

We also heard this from Phil Heyer, who runs this section every week.

“It is what it is,” he said, adding that this detour is at least better than the one he faced when another part of the trail was closed by a broken retaining wall.

Appropriately enough, there’s an e-bike shop right there on Lipan Street, just north of Alameda. Chris Kelly, who was inside fixing a bike, said the construction hasn’t been too bad for business. They can still easily send interested buyers on test drives along the route.

The South Platte River Trail extends into the distance, but the foreground portion is blocked by concrete barriers and a fence.  A cyclist rides to the right and returns to the path via a detour.
The South Platte River Trail has been disrupted on Alameda Avenue for some time; passers-by must cross on the street, instead of under it. May 31, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

But Kelly’s commute has been particularly affected. He said he stopped driving to work to avoid crossing the river. But he added that the new sidewalk on the new north side of the bridge looks much more inviting than the old one.

He expects to be driving to work again soon.

“They’re working on it,” he said.

A sticker stuck to an electricity pole reads 'cars ruin cities'.  while a car drives by in the background.
“Cars are ruining cities,” seen where users of the South Platte River Trail must travel on Alameda Avenue due to ongoing construction there. May 31, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite