A Bridge Too Far

If it’s after eleven, it's illegal to cross the Highland Bridge.

Loyal readers may recall my dear friend Brett, often referred to in these pages as "the law student." He's a full-fledged lawyer now — Mazel tov, Brett! Pay me the money you owe me, you cheap bastard — with a keen eye for injustice. And on a recent night on the edge of downtown Denver, that beautiful, brown eye was focused squarely on one of Denver's finest. Because on that recent night, Brett found himself detained — for terrorism!

Just kidding. The reality is far more terrifying: Brett was trying to walk home.

What an idiot.

Location Info

Map

Highland Bridge

16th Street between Central and Platte streets
Denver, CO 80211

Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks

Region: Northwest Denver

Brett's a Highland man. He loves that part of Denver, and that part of Denver loves him. But you know what else Brett loves? A good drink every now and then. After all, he is a friend of What's So Funny. And after imbibing several good drinks two Saturdays ago, Brett decided to head home right before closing time. He started walking — past Union Station, then over the Millennium Bridge, to the edge of the Riverfront complex. He was just about to cross Little Raven Street en route to the Highland Bridge over the highway when a voice called out in the dark.

"Stop right there," the voice yelled. Brett stopped, turned and saw the po-po.

"What are you doing?" the officer asked.

"I'm walking home," Brett told him, gesturing toward the span in the distance. "I live right over there."

Apparently that was the wrong answer, because Brett was frisked, then slapped in handcuffs. When he protested, he was told not to say another word. Then the cop called for backup. While he and Brett waited, a couple walking home out of LoDo passed right by them, then through the park, completely unmolested. Backup soon arrived in the form of two more officers and, like that, there were three pricks who'd been bullied during high school. They conducted a background check to make sure that Brett was neither a "prostitute or a drug dealer," they told him. Now, whether or not Brett is a prostitute is clearly debatable, but in the context that these cops were using the term — the me-love-you-long-time sense of the word — that's certainly not the case. And as far as Brett being a drug dealer, that's ridiculous. Lawyers don't deal drugs. They get prescriptions.

Once the cops determined that Brett was a law-abiding citizen who posed no threat, they decided to let him go. Just as long as he didn't go through Commons Park, the direct route to the Highland Bridge across the highway. Instead, the cops told him to walk over to 15th, then cross the old viaduct over I-25 and go directly home.

"What really pisses me off," Brett says, "is that they built this $8 million bridge so that Highland residents could walk more safely to and from downtown because the 15th Street bridge was supposed to be too dangerous. I thought it was a waste of money, but whatever, they built it. And then when a Highland resident tries to use the new bridge to get home, they tell him it's illegal to walk through the park and to take the 15th Street bridge instead? How much sense does that make?"

About as much sense as me not having a girlfriend, Brett. So I decided to look into it.

According to Sonny Jackson, spokesman for the Denver Police Department, the problem is that Denver's park curfew is 11 p.m. In order to reach the Highland Bridge, that pricey pipeway for yuppies leaving Gentrification Zone #1 for Gentrification Zone #2, yuppies must cut across a Denver park — which means that any time after eleven, they're breaking the law. And so Jackson, like the officer who apprehended Brett, recommends that people take 15th.

Allow me to translate. Those expensive bridges heading straight from Highland into LoDo? Take those during the day, to avoid that bridge a block away that's so unsafe. But late at night, when you're shit-faced from drinking in LoDo, don't take that fancy new pedestrian walkway over the highway, okay? Instead, take the viaduct that pulses with traffic as you walk right alongside the street, you wobbly fool. Take it until you're standing over I-25, where you can't help but contemplate throwing frozen turkeys over the edge into the concrete abyss below — or, depending on how your night went, yourself.

There are many things wrong with this picture: the fact that my buddy was apprehended before he ever got to the park; the fact that one couple was allowed to walk through the park while my buddy was not; the fact that a multimillion-dollar bridge cannot be used for its intended purpose during the hours when it is most needed; and, above all, the fact that Brett is now making more money than me. But, hey, maybe these are the unavoidable growing pains of a city rapidly on the move.

Or maybe some cops are just assholes.

 
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