The city of Aurora has a new vision for the Havana Street corridor and wants to make travel easier for everyone


Over the past two decades, Mark Gurzhiev of Solomon’s Grocery & European Deli has seen a lot of changes on the Havana Street Corridor in Aurora, some for the better and some for the worse.

The corridor is known for its food selections from all over the world, with Mexican, Korean, Ethiopian and Chinese restaurants located along its streets. Mixed in, visitors can find small business-owned retail shops, grocery stores that sell African or Asian staples, and service-oriented businesses like nail salons, auto shops and dental offices. The popular corridor is also a major thoroughfare and state highway, and it includes a residential area, which has led to some transportation challenges.

One thing Gurzhiev has noticed in particular is the frequency of crashes that occur near his family-owned store at 1939 South Havana St., especially at the intersection of South Havana Street and East Jewell Avenue — an area he calls “very, very dangerous.” He’s seen collisions involving cars, pedestrians and bicyclists.

As Aurora grows so does the number of people using the corridor whether they’re driving, biking, using RTD buses, walking or using wheelchairs to get from one place to the next. That’s why the city launched the Havana Street Corridor Study, meant to provide recommendations for transportation needs and strategies to improve the corridor, particularly at key locations that have a lot of crashes or need traffic calming measures and enhancements for mass transit. Planners also want to add in “gateway features,” which include landscape and lighting improvements, bus stop enhancements and even utility box art to highlight a residential and commercial area that’s considered vibrant and successful.

City staff estimate that Havana Street has daily traffic of about 30,000-40,000 vehicles with posted speeds between 35-45 mph, making it risky for people to cross the road midblock without some pedestrian traffic protections. The corridor also serves a high number of people using mass transit, with RTD Bus 105 getting about 4,300 riders on an average day.

A bush encroaches onto a narrow section of sidewalk on Havana Street in Aurora on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Jintak Han, The Denver Post

A bush encroaches onto a narrow section of sidewalk on Havana Street in Aurora on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

The study focuses on a 6-mile area, a half-mile radius around Havana Street from Montview Boulevard south to Dartmouth Avenue, and the goals of the study include creating infrastructure that’s safe, efficient and inclusive for all users whether they live, work or visit the area, while ensuring the corridor is prepared for future economic and development growth.

“We would like to send a message, a clear message, number one to the drivers that they’re entering a different area so they shouldn’t drive too fast, and watch for pedestrians, watch for bicyclists, watch for transit riders,” said Huiliang Liu, principal transportation planner for the city of Aurora. “And so, that’s one thing. And also by creating those gateway features, it will help to really enhance the distinct characteristics of the corridor. That’s another way of helping the corridor in terms of economic development.”

The intersection that Gurzhiev was referring to at Jewell Avenue is among the busiest intersections for pedestrians and pedestrian crashes, especially those causing injury, according to city data. It’s also among the intersections that has had the most bicycle crashes causing serious injuries.

In the period between 2012 and 2019, 7,513 crashes were reported on the Havana Street Corridor. Five hundred and seven had injuries and 12 were fatalities, the data show. Bicycles were involved in 55 of those crashes and pedestrians in 147.

In one of the surveys conducted by the city about the corridor, residents shared comments about some of their struggles on Havana Street, such as difficulty moving from bus stops to stores, a need for wider sidewalks with landscaping that would force cars to slow down, and better lighting.


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