Tag Archives: Transportation

Transit Alliance_Daniel Jennings

MURP Students Participate in The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy

March 30, 2017

While MURP students have much to learn in the classroom about urban and regional planning, Denver itself also offers a vast network of resources, organizations and opportunities for students to engage in real-life planning scenarios.

The Transit Alliance, a local non-profit organization dedicated to empowering citizens to transform Colorado’s mobility future, provides such occasions through its Citizens’ Academy, which is a seven-week workshop that brings together Denver-based transit advocates. The academy serves to educate and motivate community stakeholders by encouraging their involvement to advance transit, active transportation and increased freedom of mobility.

Daniel Jennings, current MURP student, participated in the academy in Spring 2016. “I had just applied to the MURP program and was eager to get involved in the world of urban planning…participating in the academy allowed for me to be introduced to other planning advocates, and got me excited about the program,” Jennings said.

As part of The Transit Alliance, which focuses on policy and advocacy through its work, the Citizens’ Academy is an avenue for community members interested in Colorado’s transportation and mobility options to build leadership capacity, participate in forums of constructive dialogue about transit, and meet others who share similar and different viewpoints about where they see Colorado’s mobility future.

For Jennings, the Citizens’ Academy—which took place one night a week for seven-weeks—introduced him to different topics tied to transit, with the program often featuring speakers working in greater Denver’s transportation arena, including representatives from Denver Regional Council of Governments, Regional Transportation District and Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The academy also featured field trips to experience mobility options in Denver, including a trip to Denver International Airport to ride the University of Colorado A Line that recently opened to the public.

“Overall, the goal of the program was to connect you with other people that had similar interests related to transit, and to get participants thinking about how they could become transit advocates in their own community,” Jennings said. For instance, each participant created an action plan for their own community, which could range in ambition from simply taking your family for a ride on the light rail to investigating how to promote bus rapid transit in Denver.

Given his specific interest in increasing walkability within communities, Jennings’ project focused on improving walking conditions in Denver’s Lincoln Park-La Alma neighborhood. Through The Transit Alliance and work on his action plan, Jennings was also introduced to other transit and mobility-related organizations in Denver, such as WalkDenver and the Community Active Living Coalition.

“The Transit Alliance was a great introduction for me to the world I was about to enter with the MURP program,” Jennings said. “I was able to talk with and learn first-hand from planners, architects and other community members. Since a big part of graduate school is meeting people who are working in your desired profession, the Citizens’ Academy gave me a head start.”

Since beginning in 2007, The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy has graduated more than 800 community members interested in improving mobility throughout Colorado.

To learn more about The Transit Alliance, visit:  http://www.transitalliance.org/.

MURP Update Jan 2017

January 2017: MURP Department, Faculty and Student Updates

MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, presentations and media stories. Our students are also making great strides, with recent scholarship awards for their exemplary academic performance.

 Notable activities in January 2017 include:

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning spoke at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture’s Annual Lecture Series. In the talk entitled, “Just Space: Why public space matters now more than ever,” Németh spoke about how public space performs three critical functions for an increasingly divided nation: housing protests, making the marginalized visible, and encouraging encounters between people that are very different from one another. For more information on the event, which was attended by 100 participants and took place on January 12 in the university’s Millennium Library, click here.


Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (Forest Service) to plan for an “urban field station” in Denver, which would host and help organize research and activities related to management of the urban environment and urban ecological systems. The Forest Service currently hosts four urban field stations in Baltimore, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, and the proposed Denver station would be the first official Forest Service field station in the West.

The proposed station is being developed in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as Denver Parks and Recreation Department’s Division of Forestry. To help fund the project, Dr. Troy received a 2016 Forest Service grant to facilitate the planning and potential setup of this station, in addition to providing support for a meeting attended by representatives from the Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Forestry, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and academia. The grant also supports a trip by Dr. Troy and Forest Service personnel to tour the eastern urban field stations that will inform a startup strategy and business plan for the station.


Through the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), first year MURP student Meghan McCloskey Boydston was awarded the 2016-2017 WTS Leadership Legacy Scholarship award. Launched in 2007, the Leadership Legacy Scholarship provides financial aid to an exemplary woman pursuing graduate studies in a transportation-related field. This award furthers WTS’ mission to “build the transportation industry through the global advancement of women can be realized by encouraging women to further their careers as leaders in transportation.” The scholarship also focuses on advancing students interested in sustainable communities and public transit, and seeks to reward women who bring ideas, innovation and new approaches to U.S. and international transportation challenges. Congratulations Meghan!


Last year, CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning was written into an awarded $30 Million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the redevelopment of Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood. The grant was awarded to Denver Housing Authority (DHA), with CU Denver’s to serve as the official data hub for the project. Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, will coordinate CU Denver’s involvement in this project. To house the data, a server has been set up in conjunction with CityCraft Ventures, which now hosts a large database of publicly-available geographic information system (GIS) files for all of west Denver, the grant’s geographic area of focus. Ultimately, CU Denver will work with DHA and research partners at Colorado State University, Regis University, CU Boulder and University of Denver to develop a system of indicators that will be used to measure neighborhood well-being and health as the neighborhood transforms. The team will also conduct GIS analyses to quantify the natural and built environment of Sun Valley.

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MURP’s Alex Schafran Led Transit-Oriented Hike During Denver Visit

September 25, 2015

Denver, CO – Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a hot topic in planning but what about Transit-Oriented Hiking? Playing off of the popular TOD concept, Adjoint Assistant Professor Alex Schafran led a transit-oriented hike for MURP students and faculty while he was in Denver in early September. The group met at Denver’s Union Station and took the West Line to the Federal Center station in Golden, Colorado. From there, the group walked to Apex Park for a casual hike.

“As a new resident of Denver, I was excited to get out and explore the great outdoors,” said first-year MURP student Zareen Tasneem. “Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that to reach these destinations, you needed a car, which I do not own. The transit-oriented hike was a relief because at least now I had an option. I would definitely partake in another TOH if given the opportunity.”

Fellow first-year student Lorin Crandall echoed that sentiment. “As someone who has chosen not to have a car for economic and environmental reasons, I am constantly on the lookout for good ways to get out to the great outdoors all around us in this region,” he said. “By being able to hop on the light rail or a bus and get out to great places to hike, bike and fish, I am able to surmount one of the biggest drawbacks of not having a personal vehicle. I think that we will see a big uptick in regional and statewide transportation alternatives, as more people get sick of traffic jams going to the mountains. And as more and more young people without cars move to the region, it will drive up competition for good alternatives to personal vehicles when it comes to getting from the urban areas to great outdoor recreation opportunities available in the mountains.”

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WTS Student Chapter Inaugural Event: Careers in Transportation and the Women Who Work There

June 24, 2015

Denver, CO – This summer, the recently-established WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) UC-Denver Student Chapter joined forces with the US Department of Transportation Small Business Services to host an inaugural event on “Careers in Transportation and the Women Who Work There.” The event, held at the Denver Public Library on June 24, featured local women leaders talking about their paths in transportation and discussing how women can begin or accelerate careers in transportation.

Panel speakers included:

Sandra Scanlon, Engineer and Owner of SSG/MEP;
Sheila Nessler, Owner of Columbia Sanitary;
Zamy Silva, Senior Manager, Civil Rights Division, Regional Transportation District (RTD); and
Betsy Wagner, AG Technology Sales Manager, Wagner Equipment Co.

(Full speaker biographies are included below.)

On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13506 creating the White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that each federal government agency addresses the needs of women and girls.  Ray LaHood, then-Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, launched a pilot program, which evolved into the Women and Girls in Transportation Initiative (WITI).  It seeks to address challenges women face, educate women on available opportunities, attract future leaders and retain female participation in the transportation industry. The program is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Speaker Bios:

Sandra Scanlon, P.E., LEED AP – SSG MEP, President

SSG MEP specializes in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering providing programming, master planning, schematic, design development, construction, documentation, and construction administrative phase services.  SSG MEP has designed building systems for new and remodeled facilities that include airports, municipal, police, fire department, educational and correctional facilities, hospitals, medical offices, laboratories, apartments and multi-family housing, offices, retail, restaurants, hotels, resorts, light industrial, theaters, recreation center and pools, parks and recreation and roadway lighting.

Sandra earned a BS in electrical engineering from Valparaiso University and has more than 24 years of job experience.  She has served as the Section President of the Society of Women Engineers, where she also won the National Entrepreneur Award and the National Distinguished New Engineer Award.  Her company annually sponsors a Women Build Day for Habitat for Humanity and she has served as the event chair for Rocky Mountain GESTEM, an event designed to introduce middle school girls to the exciting possibilities of STEM careers.

Elizabeth B. Wagner – Wagner Equipment, Business Analyst and Ag Tech Sales Manager

Wagner Equipment is the Caterpillar tractor and AGCO dealer for Colorado, New Mexico, West Texas and Mongolia, serving the mining, heavy highway, construction and agriculture industries. Betsy has the role of Business Analyst for the Technology Solutions department, as well as working as Agricultural Technology Sales Manager.  Both positions focus on machine control and guidance products, which allow machines to be extremely accurate, increase efficiency and reduce operator wear and tear.

A Colorado native, Betsy returned home after 12 years on the East Coast where she graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in Consumer Studies.  She trained with the

USA National Field Hockey Team; coached field hockey at Dartmouth College; and worked on political and philanthropic programs focused on women and children for Hunt Alternatives Fund in Cambridge, MA.

Zamy Silva – RTD, Senior Manager, Civil Rights Division

Zamy is experienced in the civil rights discipline, including:  Certification Specialist/Investigator with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Government Compliance Officer for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA-Boston); Small Business Manager for the RTD Civil Rights Division; and current Senior Manager of the Civil Rights Division at RTD.

She has a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Broadcasting and Spanish, and is proficient in Spanish, Portuguese and Cape Verdean-Creole.  Her duties require her to understand, convey and apply federal and state laws, practices, rules and regulations, policies, procedures, guidelines and effective implementation strategies in the areas of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Minority and /Women Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), ADA, Language English Proficiency (LEP), Title VI, and Title VII.  She has experience in project management, dealing with confidential and sensitive issues, and developing and implementing contract compliance monitoring strategies as well as procurement processes that must comply with federal acquisition regulations .

Shelia Nessler – Columbia Potties of the Rockies, Owner

Shelia’s company provides portable toilet service to construction locations and events in the Denver area and Front Range. Columbia Sanitary’s core business is pumping septic tanks, grease traps, and waste treatment. The septage is processed then applied to the land, thereby improving Colorado’s soils.  It’s a practice that has been used as long as mankind has grown crops.

Shelia also was a ground-breaker in the gender equity battle.  In 1971, she applied to the Mid-Continent School of Aviation in Kansas City, Mo., to become an aircraft mechanic. Because some teachers were concerned they might have to temper their language, a vote was taken whether or not to admit her.  Upon graduation, she went to work for Cessna.  She worked on Top Secret military aircraft such as the SR-71, a strategic reconnaissance aircraft, and the U-2, a high altitude reconnaissance plane. By 1989 she had at least 15 years of solid experience when she applied for a mechanic’s job with Boeing – and was rejected while all her male cohorts were hired. She subsequently took Boeing to court and won.  She got to pay it forward to other women by requiring Boeing interview all of the women that had been rejected for positions in the previous five years.

(Pictured above (left to right) are:  Zamy Silva – RTD, Senior Manager, Civil Rights Division; Joseph Serna – USDOT Small Business Services, Project Director;  Shelia Nessler – Columbia Potties of the Rockies, Owner; Sandra Scanlon, P.E., LEED AP – SSG MEP, President; Betsy Wagner – Wagner Equipment, Business Analyst and Ag Tech Sales Manager;  Dixie Malone – Denver Public Library, Librarian, whose specialty is Business Research.)

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MURP Alumnus, Faculty Help Bring Tuk-Tuks to Denver

June 30, 2015

Denver, CO – The tuk-tuk, the three-wheeled motorized public transport vehicle common on the streets of Asia, has arrived in the Mile High City,  thanks to a Denver-based startup and with a little help from the MURP program. Denver is the first US city offering an all-electric tuk-tuk vehicle to the general public as part of its Downtown mobility options.

eTuk Denver and eTuk USA are the Colorado companies that recently brought the tuk-tuk to the United States. eTuk Denver operates the eTuk service in Downtown Denver, while eTuk USA is the manufacturer that is marketing eTuk vehicles to cities and businesses nationwide. Currently, the eTuk is available for hire in Downtwon Denver by either hailing it on the street or calling to arrange for a ride. An eTuk app will be available soon. The company also hopes to offer in the future fixed-route services connecting Downtown’s transit hubs with sites such as the convention center, museum district, and other popular Downtown destinations.

Why the eTuk? According to the company’s website… “Designed on the principles of making the world a cleaner and greener place, we connect environmentally conscious vehicles to our local community that live, work and play in Denver. eTuk Denver is a unique, eco-friendly, fun experience that is also an affordable and predictable way to complete the ‘last mile’ or provide a short shuttle ride throughout the greater downtown Denver area.”

During the company’s development phase, eTuk’s business partners sought the counsel of the MURP program’s Ken Schroeppel, who provided them with planning advice and perspectives on Downtown Denver’s transportation needs and challenges. Also at that time, MURP student (now alumnus) Jonathan Woodward completed a semester-long Independent Study for the company that evaluated Downtown Denver planning issues, surveyed various transportation laws and regulations, gathered best practices from other countries with tuk-tuks, and assisted the company with other due diligence tasks.

With the recent launch of eTuk Denver, another MURP faculty member, Carey McAndrews, who specializes in sustainable transportation policy and design, providing her insight on the eTuk’s role in urban transport to the Washington Post, Colorado Public Radio, and the Denver Post.

Our engagement with eTuk Denver demonstrates the MURP program’s commitment to real-world experiential learning for our students and to making positive change in our community!

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MURP Professor Presents Research at DRCOG Metro Vision Idea Exchange

March 3, 2015

MURP Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz presented the findings and recommendations from Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Outcomes Assessment & Knowledge Sharing grant at the DRCOG Metro Vision Idea Exchange on Wednesday, February 25. The audience included planners, elected officials and representatives from nonprofits.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the performance of the half-mile areas around existing light rail stations based on four factors: affordable housing, site development, accessibility and jobs, and economic development.  The research team will be making recommendations for the regions current and future light rail lines based on this study. Funding for the project comes from a Sustainable Communities Initiative grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to DRCOG.

Other MURP professors working on the project include Austin Troy, Jeremy Nèmeth, and Ken Schroeppel. MURP partnered with the CU Denver School of Public Affairs on the grant, as well as the new interim director of the Colorado Center for Sustainable Urbanism, Rocky Piro. Students in Carrie’s fall studio course, plus six other current MURP students, Greg Roy, Debra Bristol, Laia Mitchell, Jenny McGinnis, Alison Redenz, and Sarah Blanchard and recent MURP graduate Melanie Sloan, have also worked on the project.

Check out a related post from December here and one from October here.

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Students Present Transportation, Affordable Housing Research

December 17, 2014

Denver, CO – Students in Carrie Makarewicz’s Planning Project Studio presented research from two studies they assisted with at the Piton Foundation in December.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), through a Sustainable Communities Initiative grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), funded the College of Architecture and Planning and the School of Public Affairs to conduct two studies in the region, both of which Carrie’s students assisted with.

The first study, Outcomes Assessment and Knowledge Sharing (OAKS), aims to evaluate the current conditions of the existing light rail station areas on four factors: accessibility, jobs and economic development, site development, and affordable housing. To assist with the evaluation, students from the studio and research team conducted walkability assessments of each of the 45 station areas, looked at data on housing, population, jobs and businesses, and summarized zoning and planning for the area in order to evaluate the stations on each of the four factors.

The second study is an affordable housing strategy for the future Gold Corridor running from North Denver to unincorporated Adams County, Arvada, and Wheat Ridge. The studio did two extensive analyses for this project: an accessibility to amenities evaluation for each of the seven station areas on the line, and site selection for affordable housing within one mile of five of the station areas. From the site selection, they identified 27 potential sites totaling 246 acres.  The access study identified gaps in sidewalks, bus service, bike infrastructure, and necessary amenities, such as grocery stores, and health care.

Among the presentation attendees were representatives from DRCOG, Enterprise Community Partners, HUD, Adams County Housing Authority, and several consultants working on the Gold Corridor Project. The Region 8 Director of HUD and the Director of the Jefferson County Housing Authority were also in attendance.

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MURP Students Alison Redenz (left) and Sarah Blanchard at the Transit Alliance’s 4th annual Transit Event on November 14, 2014.

MURP Student Awarded WTS Colorado Chapter Scholarship

December 17, 2014

Denver, CO – Alison Redenz, first-year MURP student (pictured, left), has been awarded the WTS Colorado chapter Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship, given by WTS, an international organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women.

The scholarship is $4000 plus a complimentary one-year membership to WTS Colorado, recognition at the WTS Colorado Annual Awards Gala, an opportunity for mentorship with a local professional in the transportation industry, and automatic consideration for the WTS International Scholarship award of an additional $10,000.

Alison is also a research assistant for CAP’s DRCOG Sustainable Communities Initiative project to evaluate Denver’s rail transit system and associated development. Said Carrie Makarewicz, Assistant Professor of Planning and Design, “[Alison] has been super busy with school, the research, and another job since the day she landed in Denver last summer. And she loves learning about transportation and planning. This is a well-deserved scholarship!” Congratulations, Alison!

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MURP Students Discuss Transportation Issues with Former Denver Planning Manager

November 11, 2014

Denver, CO – MURP students had the opportunity to learn from and interact directly with Rocky Piro, former Manager of the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development, during an informal seminar discussion on November 11. Piro discussed emerging transportation trends and some of Denver’s transportation initiatives, including the I-70 redevelopment plan, Transit Oriented Development (TOD), and FasTracks, with members of the CU Denver student chapter of the American Planning Association (APAS).

“I see a real paradigm shift happening in transportation in the U.S.” Piro began. He pointed out that, in talking about transportation trends, planners need to consider how to better integrate these issues into planning decisions.

Following a brief overview presentation, Piro spent almost an hour answering questions from the approximately 30 students who attended the seminar.

“This was a great opportunity for students to discuss real-world, current planning issues with a recognized expert on these subjects” said Drew Stiehl, current MURP student and APAS Vice-President. “It was really interesting to hear [Piro’s] perspective on topics that we’re hearing a lot about in classes.”

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MURP Faculty, Students Volunteer at Transit Academy

October 25, 2014

Denver, CO – MURP Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz, alumna Melanie Sloan, and current students Laia Mitchell, Gregory Roy, and Kevin Osborn, volunteered at the Transit Alliance’s first One-Day Citizens’ Academy Workshop on October 25. MURP’s involvement in the Transit Academy was part of the CU Denver Department of Planning and Design’s ongoing research for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) to develop an affordable housing strategy for the future Gold Corridor Commuter Rail development (to open in 2016).

More than 30 residents from Denver and Adams Counties, representing neighborhoods that will be home to the future Gold Line transit corridor, were trained at the Academy. The workshop was designed to engage traditionally disadvantaged communities in efforts to increase mobility and leverage investments in the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) FasTracks Program, a multi-billion dollar comprehensive transit expansion plan, to work for their communities. Each participant completed an individual Transit Action Plan to implement with their friends, family, neighbors, classmates, or elected officials.  The issues, information, and ideas raised by the residents at the academy will be used as input into the affordable housing strategy.