Every parent worries about their kids and it is a normal thing. Thus, a dad in North Denver is concerned his kid might be hit by a semi-truck while walking to school.
Everyone calls him Rey G and he lives close to Garden Place Elementary in the Globeville neighborhood, where one of his daughters goes to school. His kids are the 5th generation in his family to grow up in the neighborhood, so you could say deep roots have been planted. He enjoyed growing up there and wants his kids to, too.
The problem is, he says, the neighborhood isn’t as safe as it could have been. It’s not because of drugs or violence, but because each day he says freight trucks drive feet away from his front door.
“All these trucks are just coming through here,” Rey said. “It’s dangerous. You know you got kids out here. You got kids trying to play.”
And Rey has an eight-year-old who walks to school. They live close by, so it’s not a far walk. However, he can’t help but worry about his daughter because of these trucks that “can kill people.”
His concern isn’t completely unfounded either. Kayla Birdsong, the executive director of the Growhaus non-profit in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood – an area facing a similar issue – says one of the organization’s volunteers was killed by a semi-truck in October 2016. Birdsong says she was biking home from work.
Rey’s voiced his problem to the Denver City Council and is now teaming up with one of its members, Councilwoman Deborah Ortega. “Where people are just wanting to get off the highway that is not doing local deliveries, that’s where the enforcement and the signage become really critical to protecting these communities,” she said.
Her goal is to curb the problem by creating stricter enforcement of where these freight trucks can drive — more specifically, where they can’t.
“You’ve got a lot of kids that cross the street to get to school,” Ortega said referring to 45th Avenue, which runs right next to Garden Place Elementary. “I mean, if you’re driving in a big truck and there’s a little kid that darts out, you can’t always see them over the hood of your truck.”
Besides the problems with the safety, Ortega said trucks also create a problem of pollution. The neighborhood Rey lives in is one of the most polluted “in the whole state,” she said.
“Eighty percent of the particulate matter from the emission from the trucks impacts the neighborhoods,” Ortega said.
In fact, when Rey says that when he steps outside of his home, there is the smoke on the ground from the pollution.
Both Rey and Councilwoman Ortega fear the problems of freight trucks driving on residential streets will only get worse when construction to expand I-70 begins. And for that, Ortega thinks “where we can protect the community’s health and safety is vital for us to be addressing now.”