East of I-25, Colfax Avenue is one of the City’s highest traveled east-west transportation routes. During the peak hours, some intersections exceed capacity causing traffic congestion and travel delay. Over the next 20 years, the study area is expected to experience a 25% growth in person-trips (number of travelers), 67% growth in employment (jobs), and 25% growth in population. As a result, the need to address mobility for all modes of transportation within the Colfax Avenue Corridor study area is critical to improving safety and meeting the long-term economic viability and mobility needs.
The study corridor (referred to as the “Colfax Avenue Corridor”) is defined roughly as Colfax Avenue from I-25 on the west to I-225 on the east and 20th Avenue on the north to 12th Avenue on the south.
The study includes an analysis of many different mobility options and potential alignments in the Colfax Avenue Corridor. A broad range of alternatives were considered and narrowed down to three specific alternatives that best fit the purpose and need for the study. The alternatives included Enhanced Bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and Modern Streetcar. In addition, a range of alignments were considered that included Colfax Avenue, 13th Avenue/14th Avenue, 17th Avenue, and 20th Avenue/Montview Boulevard. The preferred alignment that best fit the project purpose and need was narrowed down to Colfax Avenue.
Following a focused, year-long technical analysis of all three alternatives, BRT on Colfax Avenue was identified as teh preliminary Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). The BRT system would convert Colfax Avenue's outside travel lane in both directions to exclusive transit lanes during the weekday morning and evening peak travel periods (i.e., rush hour) for as much of the corridor as is possible. The inside travel lanes would remain available for all vehicles to use. The rest of the day and on weekends, buses would continue to operate in the outside travel lane with traffic. While the goal is to have as much of the corridor available for exclusive transit-only lanes, it is likely that there will be some locations in the corridor where technical or operational constraints may not allow exclusive lane operation. Additional analysis will be done to determine these locations.
Bus Rapid Transit is an enhanced transit option that features upgraded vehicles, enhanced stations and operation in a dedicated transit lane wherever possible. Potential vehicle upgrades include recognizable/branded vehicles as well as low-floor and multi-door boarding features that make it easier and faster for all riders, especially those with special needs, to get on and off. Enhanced station amenities would feature real-time passenger information, off-bus ticketing, shelter and safety improvements. The proposed BRT system on Colfax would reliably operate buses every five minutes with the existing RTD Route 15 continuing to provide local bus service.
For the purposes of the Colfax Corridor Connections study, a dedicated transit only lane is defined as a travel lane that is dedicated for use by transit vehicles only during the weekdays in the morning and evening peak hours of travel (6-9am and 3-7pm, i.e., rush hour). Along Colfax Avenue, the existing outside travel lane would be used as the dedicated transit only lane during the peak hours in both directions.
During the dedicated, transit-only lane hours of operation, right-turns from the exclusive lanes and access to/from parking will still be permitted. This is similar to how the exclusive lanes work along Broadway/Lincoln in downtown Denver. On weekends and at all other times during the weekdays, approximately 18 hours daily, vehicular traffic on Colfax Avenue and the adjacent roadways would most likely not change due to the LPA.
Additional detailed analysis of potential roadway and other impacts along Colfax Avenue, and the adjacent roadways, will be performed this fall/winter during the environmental (NEPA) phase of the project. This will identify issues and/or potential mitigation measures associated with the preliminary LPA.
A number of other transportation improvements are included in all the alternatives under consideration as a part of this study. As the preliminary LPA undergoes a comprehensive environmental evaluation, a package of supplemental improvements will begin to be identified. These include existing bus service, roadway operations, bicycle/pedestrian facilities, signage/wayfinding, and more.
No. The preliminary LPA does not propose to remove the on-street parking, but rather utilize (to the greatest extent possible) the existing Colfax Avenue bus stop areas, which are anticipated to provide enough space for the proposed transit stop improvements. Upon completion and approval of the environmental compliance phase of the project and pending funding availability, a detailed design phase would be undertaken to finalize the stop area configurations.
The study is taking into consideration how the overall FasTracks system and its I-225 Rail Line will influence transportation and mobility within the Colfax Avenue Corridor area and how those systems, including I-225, will interact with the intent of creating a cohesive transportation system that meets mobility needs.
The estimated total cost for the study is $3 million, which includes $1 million in City and County of Denver funds and a $2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The grant included two main components, which were to: 1) undertake a transit alternatives analysis and environmental compliance (NEPA) study, and 2) further develop the regional long-range transportation model (FOCUS model) in partnership with RTD and DRCOG.
Colfax Corridor Connections is identifying an action, or set of actions, to meet transit demand and improve overall mobility in the Colfax Avenue Corridor now and over the next 25 years. Project benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Increased person-trip capacity in the study area (e.g., enhancing transit will increase to total number of people that can travel along Colfax Avenue to/from their desired destinations)
- Improved safety, livability, accessibility and mobility options for all travelers
- Increased economic viability and investment by attracting new residential and commercial development
- Improved transit travel time of up to 10 minutes during peak hours, saving time and money for travelers
- Improved access to 280,000 jobs and nearly 50 schools along and near Colfax Avenue
- Numerous bicycle, pedestrian and other transportation improvements
A high-level economic review was conducted through an analysis of case studies from peer cities, local/national developer and private-investor interviews, as well as an inventory of development potential for all parcels along Colfax Avenue within the study area. The economic analysis provided the following key findings:
- Shallow lot depth along Colfax Avenue limits the scope and scale of new development opportunities
- Investing in transit along Colfax Avenue will improve property values
- Developers and key stakeholders indicated the quality of the transit investment (e.g., bus stop amenities, aesthetics, level of transit priority, and other improvements) was important to their future (re)development and investment considerations along Colfax Avenue.
Colfax Corridor Connections is a study to identify the specific transit and mobility option that best meets the overall transit demand and improves mobility in the Colfax Avenue Corridor. The option, or set of options, will become part of a long-range transportation plan and be implemented, pending funding availability and FTA approval.
Public input is essential to the success of this study. To ensure maximum public-participation, the City and County of Denver and its partners have and will continue to implement a proactive public-involvement program that is designed to be responsive to feedback from the community. Public input is vital to making decisions that are in the best overall interest of the communities within the Colfax Avenue Corridor. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.ColfaxCorridorConnections.com.
Implementing BRT along Colfax Avenue does not preclude the long-term vision of having streetcars operating along Colfax Avenue and/or in other areas. The City and County of Denver intends to undertake a transit master plan to help better define the future vision of mobility for all users within and to/from Denver, which will be conducted with extensive public involvement.
DRCOG is responsible for maintaining a model that predicts how travel in the metro area will change in the future if planned projects are completed. As part of this study, RTD and DRCOG, in coordination with the City and County of Denver, have developed a new travel forecasting model (often referred to as the “FOCUS model”) that is a more detailed prediction tool for the region. One of the biggest benefits of the new model is its ability to more accurately account for the role walking and bicycle trips (either exclusively or as part of a trip that includes transit or vehicular travel) play in travel behavior. Give
n the strong role that walking and bicycling has in the Colfax Avenue Corridor, the new model is a valuable addition to this project.
The City and County of Denver, RTD and DRCOG are collaborating to complete this study under the guidance of FTA and in coordination with the City of Aurora, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and a number of local/state/federal agencies throughout the study area. In addition, the study team has formed a Community Task Force comprised of representatives from registered neighborhood/business organizations, and community leaders to help deepen their engagement with local communities and understanding of the study.
From RTD’s FasTracks system and the redevelopment on and around the Anschutz Medical Campus to other long-range planning studies going on in the study area, there is no shortage of projects to consider. The Colfax Corridor Connections team is in regular communication with all project teams working in the corridor to ensure that the most current and reliable information is informing the study and process.