DENVER (CBS4) – Crime can happen anywhere, but dark corners are like an open invitation for criminals. On the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 25 near Evans Avenue, a man was shot and killed earlier this month and his family is fighting for more lighting to improve safety.
“I don’t know how the community can feel safe on that bridge. There are dark spots. I don’t know how they can feel safe walking on that bridge knowing there’s some random guy out there who shot my cousin,” said Michelle McCurry, cousin of Luis Nieves who was murdered the night of Jan. 9. “There’s not enough lighting on this bridge at all.”READ MORE: No Injuries After Home Under Renovation Partially Collapses
However, the city of Denver’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (formerly known as Public Works) – which manages the Colorado Center Bike & Pedestrian Bridge – disagrees. A spokesperson explained the overhead lights at the ends of the bridge as well as the LED lighting embedded in the railing, meets industry standards.
“We follow the Illuminating Electrical Society which are recommended industry standards for lighting pedestrian bridges,” Heather Burke, Communication Specialist for DOTI, explained. “Anytime we are designing and building a pedestrian bridge, we always take safety elements into consideration, and that includes lighting and cameras.”
McCurry argues, though, the embedded lighting doesn’t do enough on the bridge deck.
“The little lightings that they have along the walkway, they don’t illuminate a person’s face,” she told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “It’s like, are we giving our feet more lighting, or do we need more security making sure that everybody’s face is being seen? If there was more lighting, I feel like these criminals would think twice.”
As part of Denver’s Vision Zero program, Burke explained that DOTI is also converting 44,000 streetlights across Denver to LEDs to help increase visibility on streets and improve pedestrian safety. However, the pedestrian bridge above the interstate will not see any lighting changes.READ MORE: Arvada Police Detain 1 Juvenile For Investigation Of Threats Against Ralston Valley High School
“We also need to keep in mind there’s drivers that are driving underneath the bridge on the highway, so we have to keep the lighting at certain levels,” she said. “The bridge is appropriately lit. We followed the guidelines.”
Burke also pointed out that Denver Police said lighting is not an issue in the Luis Nieves homicide investigation. Yet McCurry believes had there been better lighting, or perhaps more than one security camera, her family and authorities may have more answers in the unsolved case.
“I can’t help but wonder if by now we would have had a face, and more of a why and how come,” she said.
That is why McCurry said she isn’t backing down in her fight for safety changes.
“I will not let [Luis] die in vain,” she said. “I feel like I am being called to make a change for everybody in all of Denver’s metro area.”MORE NEWS: Red Rocks Howl To Recognize Health Care Heroes Rescheduled To Next Week
CBS4 also reached out to RTD asking if they had any plans to implement more lights to their nearby property. A spokesperson for the agency said “safety is a priority” and that their current lighting and cameras meet the required guidelines.