East Colfax Avenue Bus Rapid Transit

Project Overview

Colfax Avenue, one of the area’s most historic streets, is a key east-west transportation route and the backbone of a thriving and diverse community. With significant population and business growth expected in the coming years, now is the time to reimagine the Colfax experience with a focus on moving people more efficiently, safely and sustainably along the corridor.

Click to see the full detailed version of each infographic


Project Background

In 2008, the City and County of Denver’s Strategic Transportation Plan identified the need to move people more efficiently within the City to improve traffic flow and rider and pedestrian safety. Because demand for RTD’s 15/15L bus service along Colfax is higher than all other RTD routes, the City selected the East Colfax Corridor to explore new transit approaches.

A Streetcar Feasibility Study was conducted in 2010, followed by a more detailed 2012 analysis of current and future needs along the Colfax corridor. In 2018, following six years of outreach and community input, 75% of the public recommended center-running bus rapid transit (BRT) as the preferred design alternative. The design process and environmental review began in late 2020.

Scope and Purpose

After years of studying East Colfax Avenue and gathering significant community input, the City and County of Denver advanced a center-running bus rapid transit (BRT) service from Broadway to Yosemite with a dedicated transit lane in each direction. The project includes new and enhanced transit stations, service amenities, improved pedestrian and bike connections, and placemaking opportunities. West of Civic Center Station to Denver Union Station, BRT will operate in the side-running transit lanes along 15th and 17th Streets. East of Yosemite to I-225, BRT will be side-running in mixed flow traffic with potential enhanced stations that will be coordinated with the City of Aurora.

Upon implementation, the project will reduce transit travel time by 15 to 30 minutes, provide more affordable and reliable access to over 250,000 jobs and community services along the corridor, enhance comfort and safety, and create exciting streetscape, placemaking and economic development opportunities.

Timeline

  • 2012–2014: Planning and initial analysis of corridor alternatives
  • 2015–2016: Initial recommendation for side-running BRT on Colfax
  • 2017–2018: Introduction and evaluation of center-running BRT on Colfax
  • 2018–2019: Determination of center-running BRT as the locally preferred alternative
  • 2020–2022: Preliminary design, engineering and environmental review
  • 2023–2024: Final design and FTA Small Starts application process (pursuing federal funding)
  • 2024–2027: Construction, testing and commissioning
  • 2027: BRT service begins

Funding

Elevate Denver Bond Funding

Denver has secured $55M in funds for the East Colfax Avenue BRT through the Elevate Denver Bond Program, which voters passed in 2017. The City intends to leverage Elevate Denver Bond funding, along with funds from other available sources, to secure additional grant funds to achieve the full vision for the East Colfax Avenue BRT.

Voters also approved $20M for pedestrian improvements on Colfax Avenue in the Elevate Denver Bond program. These funds will provide permanent improvements including medians, curb extensions, and enhanced crosswalks at key intersections as well as streetscape enhancements such as furniture, trees and lighting in certain business improvement districts (BID). 

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Funding

Denver also applied CIP dollars to make near-term safety improvements at 12 intersections along East Colfax, including Grant, Logan, Pearl, Washington, Clarkson, Lafayette, High, Adams, Hudson, Krameria, Monaco and Uinta, that will inform the future BRT design. Improvements include the addition of paint, bollards and signage to enhance vehicle visibility and pedestrian safety.


Current Project Activities

The East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, a partnership among the City & County of Denver, RTD, CDOT, DRCOG, FTA and the City of Aurora, is in the final design and pre-construction phase. Key milestones include developing construction plans, analyzing parking, traffic and safety effects throughout the corridor, and finalizing BRT branding and station streetscape designs.

Construction Plan and Timeline

While construction is currently anticipated to begin Q3 2024, this is contingent on several factors including securing federal funding by Summer 2024.

We anticipate construction activities to begin on the west end of the corridor between Broadway and Williams St. and progress east in five segments:

  • Segment 1: Broadway to Williams St.
  • Segment 2: Williams St. to Monroe St.
  • Segment 3: Monroe St. to Niagara St.
  • Segment 4: Niagara St. to Yosemite St.
  • Segment 5: Yosemite St. to I-225

Timeline of Colfax BRT Preliminary Construction Segments between Broadway and Colfax Station/R Line LRT

Rendering of Phases 1-3 of Colfax BRT Preliminary Construction between Broadway and Colfax Station / R Line LRT

As more details are available about the construction plan and timeline, we will share these with the community. To receive updates on construction activities, sign up here.

Parking, Traffic and Safety Studies

The East Colfax Avenue BRT Transportation Report(PDF, 14MB) summarizes analysis of the East Colfax Avenue BRT project’s effects on the movement of buses and vehicles through the study area.

The study area includes major streets between Broadway and I-225, from 13th Avenue to 17th or 18th Avenues. This analysis was completed between 2020 and 2022 per state-of-the-practice methods as identified by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration, addressing measures of effectiveness such as bus travel times, bus ridership, vehicle travel times and traffic diversion.

Watch Episode 2 of our new Col-FAQs: On The Street series to learn more!

Download the Transportation Report Executive Summary(PDF, 570KB)

Download the Full Transportation Report(PDF, 14MB)


Parallel Streets Safety Study

Denver is conducting a safety study of East 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, and 18th Avenues between Broadway and Yosemite Street to identify recommendations for safety improvements alongside the design of the East Colfax Ave. BRT. This study will analyze crash data, user volumes (vehicles/pedestrians/bicyclists), traffic speed data, and community input to develop recommendations for reducing crashes on these streets.

Review the Parallel Streets Safety Study


Curbside Access Plan

As part of the East Colfax Ave. BRT project, the team is conducting a Curbside Access Plan (CAP) to study parking utilization and recommend curb regulations between Broadway, Colorado Blvd., 13th and 17th Avenues. Based on data and community input collected last fall, the team developed updated recommendations and is looking for additional input.

Review the Curbside Access Plan

Project Design and Branding

BRT Station Design

The refined BRT station design advances the project’s goal to improve transparency, accessibility, safety and comfort for all riders. Key elements of the refined design include ample weather protection, transparent materials for improved visibility, enhanced wayfinding, comfortable and flexible seating, ample lighting and station identifier signage.


BRT Branding

Following significant community input during the preliminary design phase of the project, Lynx was selected as the name for Denver’s BRT system. The Lynx logo was revealed at the Community Open House on April 18, 2023, and the final color palette was announced at the Community Webinar on November 16, 2023. Conceptual branding applications on the bus and at the stations were presented at the Community Open House on February 28, 2024.

 

Lynx Logo and selected color palette


90% Design Project Area Maps

NEPA and Categorical Exclusion

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the law that governs the environmental review process for all transportation projects that involve federal funding. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is the lead federal agency for the East Colfax Avenue BRT project and determined that the projects qualified for a Categorical Exclusion (CE). This is a streamlined environmental review process for transit projects. Documentation of the CE process and findings are below:

Final Categorical Exclusion(PDF, 1MB)


The East Colfax Avenue corridor has a rich history of providing transportation and transit options for Denver and the surrounding communities dating back to the 19th century. As part of the NEPA process, the project documented both potential impacts and benefits to historic resources along the corridor in light of proposed improvements and developed detailed mitigations. For more information on this process, please see the Cultural and Paleontological Resources Technical Resource Memo below.

Categorical Exclusion Appendices: Technical Resource Memos

 

Community Outreach

November 2023: Community Webinar Highlights

Thanks for tuning in!

Thank you to the more than 100 community members who joined the East Colfax Avenue BRT Community Webinar on November 16. We shared refined branding, station and streetscape designs, presented an update on the Curbside Access Plan and safety analyses, introduced the preliminary construction plan, and outlined the resources available to small businesses during construction.

Watch the Webinar Recording


Key Takeaways from the Webinar

  1. The BRT Lynx logo color palette is here! The selected color palette will be applied on BRT buses, at stations and throughout Denver's future regional BRT system. The team continues to refine the branding details. Check out the Branding & Design page to see the final color palette.
  2. Updated BRT station and streetscape designs prioritize safety, accessibility and comfort. We will continue to refine station and streetscape designs for the 90% design submittal in February 2024.
  3. Give input on proposed parking regulations by December 7. The team is conducting a Curbside Access Plan to study parking utilization and recommend curb regulations between Broadway, Colorado Blvd., 13th and 17th Avenues. Share your feedback on the preliminary recommendations by December 7.
  4. Safety recommendations for parallel streets coming in 2024. To further understand the safety impacts of the BRT on parallel streets, the team is analyzing traffic volumes and speed along 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th Avenues and will identify relevant solutions and recommendations for implementation alongside BRT construction.
  5. Construction is planned to begin in Quarter 3 2024. We anticipate construction activities to start on the west end of the corridor between Broadway and Williams St. and progress eastward in five segments. Learn more about what to expect during construction by checking out the construction timeline Col-FAQs.
  6. Resources are available for small businesses prior to and during construction. Visit Denver Economic Development and Opportunity's (DEDO) and the Aurora-South Metro Small Business Development Center's (SBDC) websites to learn more about available business support in Denver and Aurora.
  7. Join us in the new year to explore the webinar content. The team will host an open house in the new year for community members to explore the content presented in greater depth. Stay tuned for more information!

Complete the Construction Communications Survey!

Share your preferences on the ways you would like to stay informed about East Colfax Avenue BRT construction by completing this short survey by Sunday, December 31.

Complete the Survey


Missed the Webinar?

Don't worry — we posted the video recording and the presentation slides so you can get caught up.

June/July 2023: Community Workshops

Thank you for joining the Summer 2023 Community Workshops.

Workshop 1: Broadway to Colorado Blvd. (June 7, 2023)

Workshop 2: Colorado Blvd. to Yosemite St. (June 14, 2023)

Workshop 3: BRT in Aurora (July 12, 2023)

May 2023: Community Survey Results and Upcoming Workshops

We Heard You!

Thank you to everyone who provided input on the refined Colfax BRT station and streetscape designs, the public art experience and your communications and engagement preferences. The latest community survey, open from April 12 through May 5, 2023, received 402 responses and hundreds of thoughtful comments.

Among the many insights we heard were to prioritize safety, comfort and accessibility at BRT stations; enhance the pedestrian and cyclist experience; and use public art to reflect the character and history of the local community.

View the Spring 2023 Survey Results(PDF, 1MB)


June 2023 Community Workshops

We invite you to attend one of two upcoming community workshops to talk about how people will move more reliably, safely and sustainably along East Colfax with Bus Rapid Transit. What will it look like to take the bus, drive, walk and roll through the corridor once the BRT is running? What can you expect?

To inform this conversation, we’re pleased to share the East Colfax BRT Transportation Report(PDF, 14MB), which measures the effects of the BRT on bus travel times, bus ridership, vehicle travel times and traffic diversion.

Check out our new Col-FAQs: On the Street series to learn more. You can also read the executive summary and full report(PDF, 14MB) on the project website.

As each area of East Colfax is unique, we ask that you attend the workshop that best aligns with where you live, work or visit most often.

  • Workshop 1: Broadway to Colorado Blvd.
    • Wednesday, June 7 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. MT
    • Carla Madison Recreation Center (2401 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206) or on Zoom
  • Workshop 2: Colorado Blvd. to Yosemite St.
    • Wednesday, June 14 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. MT
    • The Kitchen Network (1785 N Quebec St, Denver, CO 80220) or on Zoom
Colfax BRT June 2023 Workshops Visual

In addition to the two workshops in Denver, the City of Aurora will host a community meeting on July 12, 2023, for those interested in learning more about the BRT in Aurora, which will run in mixed flow traffic with side-running stations from Yosemite St. to the R-Line Station at I-225. Please RSVP to attend! 

Community Meeting: East Colfax BRT in Aurora
  • Wednesday, July 12 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (9898 E Colfax Ave, Aurora, CO 80010) or on Zoom

Learn more about the Transportation Report

Watch Episode 2 of our new Col-FAQs: On the Street series

Download the Transportation Report Executive Summary(PDF, 570KB)

Download the Full Transportation Report(PDF, 14MB)

March 2023: Colfax BRT Slated for Significant Federal Funding

On March 9, 2023, the Colfax BRT project received a significant funding recommendation and a “high” project rating from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – a major milestone toward pursuing federal funding and bringing reliable, sustainable transit to one of Denver’s busiest corridors.

A “high” project rating – and the major funding associated with it – is the highest possible project ranking from the FTA. Colfax BRT is one of a select few projects across the nation that earned this prestigious score.

Colfax BRT receives


While the project team intends to submit a final grant application for Small Starts funding this summer, the rating and recommended $126.9 million funding allocation open the door to significant FTA support through its Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Small Starts Program. It also represents substantial federal support for and recognition of the project’s viability and benefits, including mobility improvements, congestion relief, enhanced safety and accessibility, economic development and environmental benefits.

This is one of several important milestones in the final design phase and a clear vote of confidence for a project that will transform the way people move and connect along Colfax Avenue. 

The Colfax BRT project is a coordinated effort among RTD, CCD, the city of Aurora, and supporting partners, including the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), who have aligned their roles to lay the groundwork for the project’s future success. Federal funding received through the Small Starts program will pass through RTD to Denver and its Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), which will be the lead agency in BRT construction.

December 2022: Setting the Stage for Final Design

As we round out the year, we are thankful for the time and insights you have contributed to improving the preliminary design of the Colfax BRT, a project that will transform the look, feel and function of one of Denver’s most unique and most traveled corridors.

Here are a few key milestones from the past year that have set the stage for the Colfax BRT final design phase in 2023.

Colfax BRT 2022 Community Update Timeline

The Year Ahead

We look forward to another busy and exciting year! As the project moves into final design in 2023, key milestones are:

  • Further refining the BRT station design elements and working with Denver Arts & Venues on incorporating public art
  • Advancing Colfax streetscape concepts to promote both consistency and community character
  • Selecting the Lynx logo and soliciting input on the branding color palette
  • Conducting further traffic and safety analyses to address operations along parallel streets and curbside access
  • Working with Denver Economic Development & Opportunity to strengthen support for small businesses in advance of project construction

The project team anticipates receiving the FTA Small Start grant rating in early 2023, submitting all pieces for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review by the Spring, and submitting the FTA Small Starts Construction Grant Application in August 2023.

We are excited to engage you in these topics in early 2023 and to ensure the Colfax BRT delivers on our collective vision to move more people, more efficiently and more safely along the corridor.

January 2022: A Look Back at 2021

2021 was a busy and exciting year for the East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit project! In partnership with the Regional Transportation District, Colorado Department of Transportation and others, Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) kicked off the preliminary design and engineering phase of the project.

In addition to confirming the East Colfax BRT center-running alignment, route patterns and station locations, DOTI advanced the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process and preliminary BRT station design themes. The team also developed a funding strategy, and, as a first step, submitted the project to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for Small Starts funding consideration. Colfax BRT is now officially listed in the FTA's Pipeline of Capital Investment Grant projects.

Most importantly, we heard from the community! Hundreds of you shared your hopes and aspirations for the project and the station design themes through the project's virtual engagement hub, numerous public meetings, surveys and events. While big change generates natural and healthy skepticism, you told us that you care about this project and the impact it will have on your communities. 

images from online station design survey, with multicolored pins indicating residents feedback and comments on Rewind, Ray of Light and Playful Landmark concepts

What We've Learned

  • The 15/15L is loved for the access it provides to major destinations and services along the corridor. In the future, it is important that the Colfax BRT enhance rider experience in terms of speed, reliability and comfort. Creating connections to other transit services and bike pedestrian facilities across the city will also be important.
  • Invaluable to the Colfax experience are the local businesses along the corridor and the services they provide. Finding ways to support these businesses before and during Colfax BRT project construction is a top priority.
  • Enhancing public spaces along Colfax through sidewalk improvements, lighting and thoughtful streetscaping will elevate the corridor experience for all people – not just transit riders. Opportunities to expedite these enhancements are welcome!
  • Colfax BRT should preserve and enhance what makes the corridor unique. Aligning Colfax BRT with community priorities as expressed in the East and East Central Area Plan is a must.
  • Colfax BRT stations should be accessible, safe and comfortable for ALL riders and, to the extent possible, reflect the vibrant and eclectic nature of the communities along Colfax. Thoughtful lighting, local art, transparency, ambient noise absorption, green infrastructure and audible/tactile cues will all be factors in designing an inclusive BRT experience.

Station Design Theme Feedback Summary(PDF, 221KB)

What's Coming in 2022?

 In the year ahead, we plan to share initial findings from our ongoing traffic and parking analysis as well as strategies to address congestion, diversion and safety concerns. We'll seek your feedback on initial Colfax BRT branding ideas as well as updated station design concepts informed by public input. Key milestones include submitting the project's NEPA proposal and refined engineering and design plans. 

November 2021 Station Design Workshops

The Colfax BRT Project Team has been gathering the community's input on early station design themes. Hundreds of you have already shared your feedback on these themes as part of the Station Design Survey. If you haven't yet contributed your thoughts, we'd love to hear from you! 

As a next step in the Colfax BRT public engagement process, we hosted a series of virtual station design workshops in early November aimed at gathering input from transit riders and other key stakeholders with unique perspectives and lived experiences. 

The workshops focused on issues and perspectives important to the aging, disability and business communities, but we invite anyone to consider attending one of the following workshops, to help the project team design BRT stations that can provide safety, accessibility, comfort and local appeal for ALL riders while meeting the needs of the local business community.

  • November 3: Workshop for People with Disabilities
  • November 9: Workshop for the Aging Population 
  • November 10: Workshop for BIDs & Developers

July 2021: Colfax Avenue is Among the Nation's Best Performing Transit Corridors

Strong ridership during the pandemic highlights the importance of equitable access to reliable public transportation

Pandemic-era ridership data for the RTD 15/15L bus service on Colfax Avenue showcases the importance of affordable and accessible public transportation. While nationwide transit ridership dropped sharply to 20% of pre-pandemic levels, Colfax corridor bus ridership remained at over 60% of prior ridership levels, or nearly three times the national average.

As the world faced an unprecedented global health crisis that forced so many to stay home, an average of nearly 13,500 essential frontline workers boarded the 15/15L routes each day to bravely serve our community.

The stoplight at the intersection of Colfax and Race, with a Colfax Ave flag hanging on a lamppost

Far from just a commuter corridor, Colfax Avenue connects the region’s most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods to critical destinations. In fact, 40% of all transit trips along Colfax originate and end locally within the corridor without requiring transfers. Public transportation on Colfax carries students to classrooms; brings home groceries; connects residents with essential health and human services; and guides frontline workers to their jobs.

As the City and County of Denver, in partnership with RTD, the City of Aurora and CDOT, moves forward with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Colfax, equitable access to high-quality public transit will continue to be prioritized. The people who rely on these routes, as well as the importance of the street itself as a place for community, guide the vision for Colfax BRT: 

  • A SAFE street - based on vision Zero and pedestrian-first design
  • A street for PEOPLE - a street that creates spaces for active neighborhood centers and open sidewalks for retail and pedestrian uses
  • A street with transit at its HEART - which includes efficient, affordable, reliable and comfortable operations and long-lasting redevelopment and mobility benefits
  • A street that WORKS - a street that moves more people, not just vehicles and improves mobility for all modes of transportation

Ultimately, as the City works to meet the transportation needs of one of Denver’s most diverse and densely populated corridors, it remains mission focused: moving more people, more efficiently and more safely along the Colfax Corridor.

Get Involved!
Now is the time to learn more about this phase of the process and provide valuable input. We hope to see you at the next community workshop!

June 2021: Bus Rapid Transit on East Colfax Moves Forward

Faster and More Reliable Service Coming to Denver’s Busiest and Most Diverse Transit Corridor

The City and County of Denver is taking important steps to bring center-running Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to East Colfax Avenue. Building on years of study, planning and significant community input, the project team will now complete the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and preliminary design of the project. These elements will be critical in the pursuit of additional grant funding, final project planning and the ultimate construction.

Center-running BRT on East Colfax Avenue will provide one dedicated transit lane in each direction from Broadway to Yosemite. With transit ridership and traffic congestion along the Colfax corridor projected to increase in the coming years, center-running BRT will deliver faster and more reliable service to Denver’s busiest transit corridor and some of the city’s most diverse and populated neighborhoods.

Center running bus rapid transit roadway diagram with centered bus lanes, stations at intersections

Colfax BRT is the largest transportation project the City and County of Denver has ever embarked upon, leveraging $55M in Elevate Denver Bond funding passed by voters in 2017. The project will transform Denver’s busiest transit corridor – serving 22,000 daily riders – and serve as a modelfor future projects to move more people, more efficiently across our city.

Benefits of BRT on East Colfax include:

  • Faster transit travel time of up to 15 minutes during peak hours
  • Improved safety, connectivity, accessibility and mobility options for all travelers
  • Enhanced streetscaping and economic development opportunities

Why now? Despite drastic changes to traveling patterns and commuting during the pandemic, the bus routes serving East Colfax remain the busiest transit lines in Denver, serving tens of thousands of residents and essential workers every day.

Public Engagement Archive

The archive includes key documents from the public engagement, analysis and design efforts to date. It will be updated regularly as the project progresses. If you would like to request an archived document that is not accessible on this website, please contact the project team at ColfaxBRT@denvergov.org.


Public Engagement

Community Meetings & Recordings

Community Feedback Summaries

Project Area Maps

BRT Alignment & Design


Alternatives Analysis


Conceptual Design

  • BRT Conceptual Design Technical Report
  • Conceptual Design Presentation (Community Task Force – August 2018)
  • Corridor Wide Pedestrian Safety Project Materials
  • Colfax BRT:  Conceptual Design Station Areas
  • Colfax BRT:  Conceptual Design Pedestrian Crossings
  • BRT Design Evolution
  • Map of BRT station locations, signalized intersections and new protected ped crossings

 

Col-FAQs

Col-FAQS: On the Street

What is Bus Rapid Transit? How will it operate on East Colfax? And what will it mean for those who take the bus, drive, walk and roll through the corridor? We answer your questions in our new video series Col-FAQs: On the Street. Hear from the project team directly and learn more about all things East Colfax Avenue BRT.

 


BRT Basics

What is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?

BRT is a premium transit service with upgraded buses, enhanced stations and dedicated transit lanes wherever possible designed to transport riders more efficiently and safely. Elements of BRT include recognizably branded buses, as well as low-floor and multi-door boarding features to make it easier and faster for all riders, especially those with disabilities, to get on and off. Station amenities may feature real-time passenger information, off-bus ticketing, as well as shelter, safety and accessibility improvements.

Where will the BRT operate?

The East Colfax Avenue BRT will run from Denver Union Station in Denver to the R Line Light Rail Station in Aurora at I-225. The BRT will operate in dedicated center-running lanes from Broadway to Yosemite in Denver and in mixed flow, or side-running lanes, in Aurora from Yosemite to I-225.

How were station locations identified?

The East Colfax Avenue BRT project developed preferred BRT station locations as part of the Alternatives Analysis. These locations were viewed as crucial to the success of the project and were refined with input from the public and from the East and East Central Neighborhood Planning Initiative (NPI) efforts.  View the project map to see final station locations.

Special attention has been given to the spacing of stations to ensure equitable access. As designed, the average distance in between stations is 1/3 of a mile, which means walk distance between stations of no more than 1/6 of a mile (or 3-4 blocks). Additionally, improvements to over 5,000 linear feet of missing or deficient sidewalks have been identified between Broadway and Yosemite.

How will the BRT operate in Aurora?

The BRT will operate in mixed flow traffic without a dedicated center-running lane in Aurora from Yosemite St. to I-225.

The city of Aurora has contributed $2.3 million to the East Colfax Avenue BRT project for side-running BRT station design enhancements. 

Station enhancements will include a new level-boarding, iconic station at Havana for both the east and westbound platforms, and level-boarding platforms at five additional locations (Peoria eastbound/westbound, Moline westbound, R Line eastbound/westbound).

The existing enhanced 15L shelters will remain at a minimum of 11 existing bus stops in Aurora, and enhanced 15L shelters will be relocated from the Denver segment to Aurora at eight BRT stops.

All stations in Aurora will receive BRT amenities and branding.

How will the East Colfax Avenue BRT buses be powered?

Prior to BRT implementation, the current 15/15L service will continue to use existing diesel-powered vehicles. DOTI and RTD are committed to incorporating sustainable technologies and practices in all aspects of the East Colfax Avenue BRT project. However, based on cost and the current status of zero emission bus technologies (battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell-electric) and the operational requirements of the East Colfax Avenue BRT corridor, the agency is not currently considering the use of zero emission vehicles. RTD continues to evaluate and stay up-to-date as technologies evolve and is initiating a comprehensive Zero Emission Fleet and Facilities Transition Plan to expedite this transition.

What is the estimated project cost?

As of August 2023, the estimated total project cost is between $250-$260 million.

The initial 2015 cost estimate of $153 million did not include many of the elements now required for the project to receive federal funding, including a federally compliant environmental study. While much of the cost increase is a result of meeting federal funding requirements, the change in project cost is also a result of nearly a decade of substantial inflation, shifting from side- to center-running alignment, the addition of level-boarding platforms, enhanced streetscaping elements to improve pedestrian safety and BRT enhancements in Aurora.

How is the project funded?

The East Colfax Avenue BRT will be funded through a combination of local and federal funds.

Denver has secured $55 million in funds through the Elevate Denver Bond Program, which voters overwhelming passed in 2017. The City intends to leverage this Elevate Denver Bond funding, along with other local funding contributions from the City, DRCOG, and the City of Aurora, to achieve the full vision for the East Colfax Avenue BRT.

On March 9, 2023, the project received a significant funding recommendation and a “high” project rating from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – a major milestone toward pursuing federal funding.

The project team submitted grant materials for FTA review in Spring 2024, in anticipation of securing Capital Investment Grant (CIG) funds in Quarter 3 2024.

BRT Benefits

How will dedicated transit lanes on Colfax help regional mobility?

The corridor is one of Denver’s busiest transportation networks for all modes of travel, especially transit. The bus routes serving East Colfax have the highest ridership of all RTD routes – more than 20,000 riders per weekday. Current bus service in the corridor is near capacity and even small service interruptions can result in passengers being left at stops to wait for the next bus.

The City is moving forward with BRT on Colfax because doing nothing is not an option. Over the next 20 years, the corridor is expected to experience 25% growth in the number of travelers, 67% growth in employment and 25% growth in population. Denver cannot continue to grow and create more people-friendly spaces without efficiently moving more people through the East Colfax corridor.

Will businesses along Colfax benefit from the BRT?

Thoughtful investment in public transit can drive economic growth, particularly where transit-oriented development (TOD), placemaking and multi-modal connections are prioritized. Increased foot traffic around transit stations means more people accessing local businesses more frequently and more directly. 

Many cities across the country have implemented BRT systems and benefitted from economic growth.

  • EmX BRT (Eugene, OR): $100M in corridor investment; 10% job growth within .25 miles vs. -5% citywide
  • HealthLine BRT (Cleveland, OH): $5.8B in new investment from BRT & Euclid Ave Streetscape
  • Fordham Road Select Bus Service (New York, NY): 24% increase in retail sales in 1st year; 71% after 3 years

While construction is never easy, the Neighborhood Planning Initiative addressed ways to help businesses before and during BRT construction. In response, the cities of Denver and Aurora have developed a variety of tactics to help mitigate, and in some cases, remove common road blocks businesses face during large construction projects.

Visit the Business Support page to learn more and access resources.

Center-Running Lanes

How will center-running lanes operate along Colfax?

By repurposing one general traffic lane in each direction on East Colfax between Broadway and Yosemite, all transit activity will occur within two center-running transit-only lanes. Busy urban streets like East Colfax are good candidates for dedicated transit lanes because the separation of buses and vehicles better organizes traffic flow, improves travel efficiency and reduces crashes. Center transit lanes also reduce conflicts with parking and other curbside activities, while creating enhanced streetscaping opportunities and improving pedestrian safety by moving transit stations to the center.

What are the benefits of center-running vs. side running transit lanes?

While both center- and side-running BRT can enhance the transit system, the City’s analysis shows that center-running BRT provides greater benefit in terms of travel time savings, overall safety and place activation as compared to side-running BRT.

  • Faster transit travel times and improved schedule reliability

    Dedicated center-running lanes ensure greater reliability as buses are less susceptible to delays from vehicles in mixed-flow traffic, parked cars and those making right turns.  

  • Improved safety for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and transit riders

    Near transit stops, pedestrians and bus riders will walk half the distance to the station to seek refuge, as opposed to the full width of the street. Center-running alignment also creates a safer environment for drivers who will benefit from protected left-turn pockets and reduced conflicts with buses in side-running lanes.

  • Enhanced streetscape and placemaking opportunities

    As center-running alignment frees up sidewalk and curb space otherwise used for bus stops, it allows for better activation of pedestrian space and curb use as compared to side-running BRT.

How was this decision made?

The City arrived at the center-turning preferred alternative after five years of analysis and extensive community input, including more than 40 meetings and a public survey demonstrating strong support for center-running alignment from 75% of key stakeholders and community members.

In 2018, an Alternative Analysis was published, evaluating side- versus center-running BRT against more than 10 criteria. Center-running BRT in exclusive lanes scored higher overall and in categories such as mobility, transit travel time, transit reliability, pedestrian safety and experience, expansion capacity and urban character, compared to side-running BRT in exclusive lanes during peak times.

Based on this analysis, the project advanced center-running alignment for the portion of the corridor between Broadway and Yosemite.

What other cities have realized the benefits of center-running BRT?

Center-running BRT is not a new concept. Many cities have implemented BRT and realized the benefits.  While the circumstances (density, infrastructure, etc.) are somewhat unique to each system, the following BRT lines most closely resemble the East Colfax BRT Project.

  • HealthLine BRT (Cleveland, OH): This 100% center-running BRT system boosted ridership 60% within two years of service, improved pedestrian and cyclist connections and enhanced placemaking and transit-oriented development.
  • IndyGo Red Line BRT (Indianapolis, IN): Spanning 13 miles through the heart of Indianapolis, IndyGo’s Red Line has led to substantial economic development along the corridor and generated more opportunities for people to ride public transit to access critical services, jobs and affordable housing. Watch the Red Line in action.
  • EmX BRT (Eugene, OR): Eugene’s 9.5 miles of center-running BRT lanes boosted ridership 74% -- from 2,700 to 4,700 daily riders and led to at least $100 million in investment and a 10% job growth along the corridor.

The City is currently doing a peer review with select cities that have implemented BRT to gather best practices and implement lessons learned.

Bus Rider Experience

What is RTD doing to ensure the safety of riders on the BRT?

RTD is committed to providing a safe, convenient and enjoyable transit experience for all customers.

BRT stations will feature security cameras and emergency call boxes to increase security on the platforms. The BRT’s all-door boarding may also lesson conflicts associated with single-door boarding.

Once the BRT is in service, RTD will implement random security and fare checks and as the RTD Transit Police Department (RTD-PD) grows, the agency expects to see an increase in Code of Conduct adherence throughout the system. RTD will also work closely with Denver’s mental health and enforcement services to best address health or housing related issues.

RTD encourages its riders to report safety and security concerns 24/7 to RTD Transit Watch:

What is the 15/15L Bus Route Improvement Project?

RTD upgraded 15L stops between Broadway and I-225 with enhanced shelters, lighting and security cameras. Other improvements such as queue bypass lanes, transit signal priority and bus bulbs were added in key locations along the corridor. Together with the East Colfax Avenue BRT Project, these improvements will transform the future of East Colfax transit services.

Learn more about East Colfax transit enhancements

What happens to the 15 and 15L within Denver upon project implementation?

The East Colfax Avenue BRT will consolidate and replace the existing 15 and 15L bus routes, resulting in a more reliable and frequent bus service, arriving every 4.3 minutes during the day. In the Denver segment from Broadway to Yosemite, new BRT stations adjacent to the center-running dedicated bus lanes will replace the current 15/15L enhanced bus stations, which will be relocated.

Traffic, Parking and Safety

How will dedicated transit lanes on Colfax affect vehicle congestion on Colfax and on adjacent streets?

Traffic data shows that vehicle congestion on Colfax and along parallel streets (13th, 14th, 17th and 18th) occurs today and will increase with or without the project. Investing in East Colfax Avenue BRT allows us to better manage existing challenges and meet future demands by:

  • Creating the capacity to move people more efficiently through the same amount of space.

    By 2040, the BRT will save bus riders up to 30 minutes of travel time when traveling from Broadway to Yosemite. People commuting the average trip length of three miles by bus will experience up to 10 minutes of travel time savings. Meanwhile, travel times for people driving on Colfax and parallel streets will increase by three minutes on average.

  • Facilitating a shift from vehicles to transit for increased safety, speed, reliability, convenience and environmental benefits.

    The project’s reduction in bus travel times is a significant contributor to the expected bus ridership increase of 24% to 31%. This means that the BRT’s weekday transit ridership will exceed 32,000 riders per day by 2040, up from 24,450 in 2019. This will result in 35,000 fewer Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per day along Colfax and a reduction of 31,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per day.

  • Addressing diversion to parallel streets with operational and safety improvements.

    With implementation of the East Colfax Avenue BRT, projects to improve vehicle flow will be implemented at specific locations to ensure that increases in vehicle travel time are minimized, including 17th Avenue & Park Boulevard, 13th Avenue & Colorado Boulevard, and 17th Avenue & Colorado Boulevard. Separately, the city is studying 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th Avenues to consider options for addressing concerns about vehicle speeds and overall travel safety.

Read the East Colfax Avenue BRT Transportation Report to learn more about the effects on vehicle travel and diversion to parallel streets.

How will BRT impact vehicle travel speeds on Colfax?

By reducing the number of general-purpose lanes on Colfax Avenue from four to two, we expect operating speeds on Colfax Avenue to decrease. On a multi-lane street, the most aggressive drivers usually dictate the operating speeds because they can pass slower drivers. On a single-lane street, slower drivers usually dictate the operating speed because more aggressive drivers must wait behind them. This effect should reduce the operating speeds on Colfax Avenue.

On Colfax Avenue and elsewhere in Denver and Colorado, the city and state are both committed to developing strategies beyond infrastructure to reduce speeds, including enforcement mechanisms and programs aimed at affecting our driving culture.

How will the East Colfax Avenue BRT affect parking along Colfax and adjacent streets?

Approximately 300 of the current 970 on-street parking spaces will be removed between Broadway and Yosemite Street with the implementation of the BRT. However, analysis shows that current parking supply, including on-street, side-street and off-street parking, is sufficient to meet parking demand with the BRT.

The city is developing a Curbside Access Plan to account for changes to parking along East Colfax and adjacent side streets. For this plan, the city will look at parking utilization between 13th and 17th Avenues and work with the community to inform recommendations for updated parking regulations and curb use.

How will the East Colfax Avenue BRT affect safety on Colfax and parallel streets?

With the implementation of the BRT, Colfax will experience fewer crashes by 2040 than it does today. Project modeling shows a 24% reduction in crashes at signalized intersections by 2040 compared to 2019. Similarly, crashes decline by 14% along corridor segments. Without the BRT, crash numbers increase by up to 4% by 2040.

Crash reduction estimates are associated with raised medians, protected-only left-turns, reduced on-street parking, transit only lanes, reduced vehicle volumes on Colfax and Transit Signal Priority, or the adjustment of a traffic signal’s timing to prioritize approaching transit vehicles.

How is the East Colfax Avenue BRT accounting for changes in mode-shift (EVs, scooters, E-bikes, etc.)?

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have similar operating characteristics as combustion engine vehicles, so the project’s traffic analysis outcomes should be similar to an increasingly electrified future. In another effort, the city is exploring whether curb space should be allocated to electric charging stations, which could be incorporated into a Curbside Access Plan for Colfax Avenue and the surrounding area.

Regarding micromobility, including e-scooters and e-bikes, the East Colfax Avenue BRT project will include a variety of first and last mile access strategies for people walking, biking, or using micromobility to ensure that people can get to BRT stations. Additionally, through the Curbside Access Plan, we will consider dedicating curb space for bike or micromobility parking.

While space limits implementation of bike lanes along Colfax, the city plans to upgrade the bike lanes on 16th Avenue from downtown to East High School. Additionally, the Denver Moves: Bikes, the city's long-range plan for bikeways, recommends protected bike lanes on 13th Avenue east of Broadway and 17th Avenue east of Colorado Boulevard. The city will conduct a separate study of these facilities outside of the East Colfax Avenue BRT project to determine each project's feasibility.

Construction

When will construction start?

While construction is currently anticipated to begin in Quarter 3 2024, this is contingent on several factors including securing federal funding by Summer 2024. As we near the start of construction, we will share updates.

Where will construction start?

We anticipate construction activities to begin on the west end of the corridor between Broadway and Williams St. and progress east in five segments:

  • Segment 1: Broadway to Williams St.
  • Segment 2: Williams St. to Monroe St.
  • Segment 3: Monroe St. to Niagara St.
  • Segment 4: Niagara St. to Yosemite St.
  • Segment 5: Yosemite St. to I-225

As more details are available about the construction plan and timeline, we will share these with the community.

To receive updates on construction activities, sign up here.

What can I expect during construction?

While construction is never easy, the project team will ensure:

  • Access to all businesses will be maintained throughout construction
  • One lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained along East Colfax during construction 
  • RTD will maintain 15/15L service, with detours and temporary stops as needed during construction
  • Safety measures will separate construction activities from the public
  • Signage and wayfinding to support detours and business access
  • Defined delivery and haul routes to minimize impacts to the surrounding areas
  • Parking policies will clearly define where construction workers can and cannot park during construction

Clear communication is key during construction. To receive updates on construction activities, sign up here.

Will events on East Colfax Ave. continue during BRT construction?

Yes! Special events such as the Colfax Marathon, MLK Marade and Denver PrideFest will continue during construction and plans will be updated to accommodate construction. Denver's Office of Special Events (OSE) is a great resource for your next festival, community event, market, run or ride. Visit their web page to learn more about special events and the permitting process.

Will the East Colfax BRT stop running during special events?

Denver hosts hundreds of unique and exciting events in public parks and on public streets. Once the BRT is in operation in 2027, East Colfax Avenue will operate as it does today during special events. Events are required to comply with Denver's Office of Special Events (OSE) permitting process, which includes road closure measures. If the event permit allows a road closure, vehicle traffic and bus service will be detoured as part of that plan.

How will construction affect 15/15L RTD services?

RTD will maintain 15/15L service with detours and temporary stops as needed during construction. Detours and temporary stops will be posted, and service alerts will be provided prior to planned route changes.

Customers can sign up for Service Alerts to receive updates on impacts to service.

For additional route and schedule information, call RTD Customer Care at (303) 299-6000. Agents are available 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

What resources are available for small businesses during construction?

Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) and the Aurora-South Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are developing tools and tactics to help small businesses thrive during construction. These resources are available on the Business Support tab, including:

  • A self-assessment to help think through ways to get your business ready for construction
  • A toolkit that includes tips and tools for overcoming potential challenges that can arise in construction zones
  • Links, resources and other advice for consultations
  • Information about available grants

To learn more, visit DEDO’s or SBDC's websites.

Did the pandemic change plans for East Colfax BRT?

Simply put, no. Over 75% of Denver voters overwhelmingly approved $55 million in funding for East Colfax Avenue BRT in the 2017 Denver Transportation and Mobility System Bonds. Likewise, 75% of stakeholders and the public have expressed support for center-running BRT.

Ridership on the 15/15L remained extraordinarily high throughout the pandemic, dropping by only 39% (over 12,000 people per day compared to over 20,000 prepandemic). This made Colfax one of the strongest performing transit corridors in the country during COVID. Nationally, transit ridership in 2020 dropped by 79% on average compared to 2019 levels.

This demonstration of Colfax’s ability to equitably serve our essential frontline workforce and transit dependent population has only further proven why East Colfax is a perfect candidate for BRT.

Community Engagement

What is the Community Task Force?

The Community Task Force is made of up individuals representing neighborhood organizations, civic and business interests along the corridor. Since 2012, member organizations have provided an invaluable connection between the project team and the community to inform the broader process.

Each of the following groups has been invited to participate in the Community Task Force. If your organization has not been invited and you would like to participate as its representative, please let the project team know.

Denver Business Groups

  • Colfax Ave Business Improvement District 
  • Colfax Mayfair BID
  • Bluebird BID
  • West Colfax BID
  • Colfax On The Hill
  • Downtown Denver Partnership 
  • The Fax Partnership
  • Points Historical Redevelopment Corporation
  • Santa Fe Drive Redevelopment Corporation

Denver Neighborhood/Community Groups

  • Balustrade HOA
  • Bellevue-Hale Neighborhood Association
  • Bicycle Colorado
  • Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods
  • City Park West Neighborhood Association
  • Civic Center Association
  • Congress Park Neighbors, Inc.
  • Cultural Arts Residential Organization
  • Curtis Park Neighbors
  • Denver Streets Partnership
  • Downtown Denver Residents
  • East Montclair Neighborhood Association
  • Golden Triangle Museum District
  • Greater Park Hill Community, Inc.
  • Historic Montclair Community Association
  • La Alma/Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association
  • La Alma Community Action Group
  • Mayfair Neighbors, Inc.
  • Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee
  • Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Committee
  •  Mile High Connects
  • Mile High Youth Commission
  • Neighbors And Friends For Cheesman Park
  • South City Park Neighborhood Association
  • South Park Hill Neighborhood Organization
  • Sumner Neighborhood Association
  • Swallow Hill Neighborhood Association
  • The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities
  • Triangle Neighborhood Association
  • Unsinkables, Inc.
  • Uptown Alliance
  • Uptown on the Hill
  • Wyman Historic District Neighborhood Association

Institutional Organizations

  • Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Auraria Higher Education Center
  • Denver Public Schools
  • National Jewish Health

Aurora Business Groups

  • Aurora Chamber of Commerce
  • Aurora Economic Development Council

Aurora Neighborhood/Community Groups

  • Colfax Community Network
  • Friendly Village Aurora N.O.
  • Hillcrest Village HOA
  • Neighborhood Action Team
  • Northwest Aurora Neighborhood Association
  • Norfolk Glen Neighborhood Association

How do BRT plans align with the Neighborhood Planning Initiative (NPI) & related efforts?

The NPI process involved considerable community input to identify incentive zoning areas for Colfax BRT Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The NPI process anticipated changes to the proposed BRT system. Where there have been changes to BRT station locations, the East and East Central Area Plans will accommodate these changes, thus creating additional incentive zoning areas and TOD opportunities.

Additionally, the voter-approved 2017 Elevate Denver Bond Program included $55M for East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit and $14.5M for Colfax Corridor Improvements. The latter will be allocated to the three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) along East Colfax to enhance the streetscape and pedestrian safety. This local funding will be leveraged to secure federal funding for the BRT and corridor-wide streetscape improvements.

How will public art be incorporated into East Colfax Avenue BRT?

Public art will be a vital component of the East Colfax Avenue BRT Project design and one way to reflect the unique character of the communities along the corridor.  Given the size and scope of the project, East Colfax Avenue BRT qualifies for Denver’s Public Art Program.

Established in 1988 by Mayor Federico Peña, Denver's Public Art Program allocates 1% of any capital improvement project budget over $1 million for public art, which may include sculptures, paintings, graphic arts, photography, mosaics, terrazzo, crafts, earth works or light and sound.

The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs will oversee the art selection process, which will include a public committee who will determine project criteria and select the artist or artist team.

Stay tuned for more details as the project moves into the final design phase.

How is East Colfax Avenue BRT addressing the accessibility needs of all communities?

Understanding and responding to the needs of community members is a project priority. The station design process has included targeted outreach with key partners from the aging, disability, visually impaired and blind communities to inform a design that prioritizes access, comfort and safety for all.

Key elements of the refined station design include ample weather protection, transparent materials for improved visibility, tactile and/or audible wayfinding, comfortable and sufficient seating for all, low grade ramps to and from the platform, ample lighting, security cameras and noise-absorbent materials.

The project team will continue to prioritize accessibility for all as the project moves into final design.

How do new zoning regulations on East Colfax Ave. advance the goals of the East Colfax BRT?

Design Overlay-8 was approved by Denver City Council in December 2023. The new zoning overlay will advance the goals of the East Colfax Ave. BRT by creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment that enhances the safety, comfort, character and connectivity along East Colfax Ave. from Broadway to Yosemite.

The overlay does this by requiring non-residential active uses (e.g., office space, retail, commercial) at the ground level of new developments near BRT stations, thus creating nodes of pedestrian activity along East Colfax. It also restricts the construction of new drive-through and car-oriented businesses, makes it easier to build outdoor patios along sidewalks by removing regulatory barriers, and encourages wider sidewalks through increased set-backs.

Design Overlay-8 is the result of an extensive community engagement process that involved hundreds of residents and business owners during the East and East Central Area Plan development.

 

Business Support

The cities of Denver and Aurora have developed a variety of tactics to help mitigate and, in some cases, remove common roadblocks businesses face during large construction projects.


Getting Started

1. Determine if your business is ready for project activity: Start by completing this self-assessment to help you think through how your business may be impacted during construction and what you may or may not need to do to prepare.

2. Effectively navigate the construction period: Take a look at the Small Business Toolkit. It's the businesses' 'go-to' for resources and information during this project.

3. Grants: In Denver, eligible businesses along East Colfax Avenue will be invited to apply for grants in early 2025. Approval for assistance will be based upon a combination of factors including program eligibility, program priorities, and availability of funds.

4. Additional Tools: For more helpful tips about thriving in the construction zone, please download these two guides.

5. For more information on business support visit:


Business Support Contacts

Denver Business Support
(720) 913-1721
investindenver@denvergov.org

Aurora Business Support
(303) 326-8686
info@aurora-southmetrobdc.com