The Colfax Corridor Connections project is studying potential long-term mobility improvements for East Colfax Avenue to enhance and revitalize this signature corridor.
Colfax Avenue has long been a key east-west transportation route for Downtown Denver, Auraria Campus, Anschutz Medical Campus and nearly 50 schools — it is also a thriving community, with retail, nightlife and residential development creating a "Main Street" feel along one of the area's oldest, most historic streets.
With population and business growth in the area expected to increase significantly in the next 20 years, there is an opportunity to reimagine how Colfax functions, looks and feels while accommodating an increasing need for enhanced mobility and safety along the corridor. Through extensive citywide planning efforts and input from the community, the project has identified an updated alternative for dedicated center-running bus rapid transit (BRT) on Colfax Avenue.
The study is being conducted by the City and County of Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in partnership with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and in coordination with the City of Aurora. The project corridor is roughly bounded by I-25 and I-225 on the west and east, respectively, and 20th Avenue and 12th Avenue on the north and south.
Map of conceptual BRT station locations, signalized intersections and new protected pedestrian crossings; click to see the full corridor map
Conceptual Design Presentation (PDF) – summary of preliminary planning process, design methodology and next steps.
Corridor-Wide Pedestrian Safety Project Materials (PDF) – overview of two sample conceptual designs of the City’s accompanying pedestrian safety and mobility project focused on areas between BRT stations in the Colfax corridor.
Colfax BRT: Conceptual Design Station Areas (PDF) – sample station design and preliminary plans for BRT station areas where East Colfax intersects with:
Colfax BRT: Conceptual Design Pedestrian Crossings (PDF) – preliminary design plans for pedestrian crossings at signalized intersections along East Colfax including:
The Colfax Corridor Connections study will identify and provide a package of multi-modal transportation improvements to enhance the Colfax Corridor over the next 25 years.
Project Map & Study Boundary | see full-size rendering
BRT Design Evolution (PDF)
Center-Running BRT Public Input Summary, July 2017–March 2018 (PDF)
Bus Rapid Transit on Colfax Avenue: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF - January 2019)
BRT on East Colfax Avenue presents an opportunity to reimagine how Denver’s main street looks, functions and feels.
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 22,000 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 safely and efficiently moving more people through the East Colfax corridor.
BRT is a premium transit service with upgraded buses, enhanced stations and dedicated transit lanes wherever possible. Upgrades 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 special needs, to get on and off. Station amenities would feature real-time passenger information, off-bus ticketing, as well as shelter, safety and accessibility improvements.
The goal of Colfax Corridor Connections is to improve transit, overall mobility, safety and livability within the corridor now and for generations to come. Benefits of BRT on Colfax include, but are not limited to:
By repurposing one general traffic lane in each direction on Colfax between Broadway and Yosemite, all transit activity will occur within two center-running transit only lanes. Busy urban streets like Colfax are good candidates for dedicated transit lanes because the separation of buses and vehicles better organizes traffic flow and improves travel efficiency. 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.
Managing vehicle turns across transit lanes is essential to successful BRT on Colfax. To maintain local access and improve safety, left turns will be allowed at signalized intersections only. Eliminating unprotected left turns significantly reduces potential conflicts with pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles. As more detailed design plans are developed, potential intersections will be identified where new traffic signals and U-turn facilities may be added to improve safety and local access.
Traffic congestion and diversion to adjacent streets occurs today and will increase with or without the project. Minor additional diversion to adjacent streets is projected due to BRT on Colfax and traffic impacts are expected to be limited to a few intersections. In order to safely keep vehicles and buses moving, a number of operational improvements will be made on Colfax and parallel roadways. These options include, but are not limited to: speed reduction and safety improvements (i.e., traffic calming), signal timing/optimization, extended or new turning lanes, and minimal capacity improvements through re-striping or minor curb/gutter relocation (all within existing right-of-way).
BRT would provide more efficient service for the current 15 and 15L routes. By consolidating portions of these routes with BRT service, transit riders’ overall travel times will be faster or maintained. While some riders may have to walk slightly farther to BRT stations, buses will arrive more frequently and predictably. Conceptual BRT stations are roughly ½ mile apart, so riders would have to walk no more than ¼ mile on Colfax to get to the bus. BRT also offers an easier boarding experience and provides opportunities for improved sidewalks, making it easier for people with mobility challenges to ride.
The final routing and stop locations of these routes will be further defined as the project moves forward. Ultimately, BRT would improve speed, reliability and the overall user experience of transit on East Colfax while still offering an RTD Local fare for the length of the service.
A number of other multi-modal transportation improvements are included as part of BRT on Colfax. As the project undergoes more detailed design, a package of supplemental mobility improvements will be finalized. These include bicycle/pedestrian facilities, signage/wayfinding, station access, connectivity with existing RTD services and more.
Specific changes to on-street parking will be identified as the project moves forward. Generally, some on-street parking spaces will be added by moving transit stations to the center of Colfax, while others will be eliminated – primarily near intersections adjacent to bus stops – to improve pedestrian access and safety. A full analysis of on-street parking and station configurations will be completed during the upcoming detailed design phase.
As the project moves forward, both local and federal funding opportunities for BRT on Colfax are being pursued. Based on available funding, a more detailed design and a project implementation schedule will be developed in 2019. Initial targets anticipate construction could begin as soon as 2022.
Public input is vital to making decisions that are in the best overall interest of the community. The project team will continue to implement a proactive public outreach program designed to be responsive to feedback from the community. Additional information will be available on this website.
The city's land use and transportation plan, Blueprint Denver (2002), promotes urban design goals that would increase transit service on major corridors and also noted the East Colfax area would see focused future growth and redevelopment.
The 2008 Strategic Transportation Plan identified a need to accommodate a forecast 20-30% increase in person-trip demand in the East Colfax corridor by 2025 without growing “Denver’s road footprint.” It also noted that “about 75% of the traffic in the East Colfax Travel Shed are pass-through trips,” increasing to roughly 78% by 2030.
Denver's 2020 Sustainability Goals and Mobility Action Plan call for reducing trips in single-occupant vehicles (SOVs) to no more than 60% of all commuting trips and promoting transit-oriented development.
Denver’s Colfax Streetcar Feasibility Study, completed in 2010, examined the potential for a streetcar project to accommodate the future person trip demand in the Denver portion of the East Colfax Avenue Corridor. It noted that the four bus transit routes in the study area, currently carrying approximately 30,000 riders per day, make the corridor the highest ridership bus corridor in the Regional Transportation District (RTD) system. The study concluded that a streetcar system was potentially feasible and should be considered in future studies as one option to accommodate future person-trip demand.
The Colfax Corridor Connections study to implement BRT began in June 2012.
The initial Public Scoping phase, completed in Fall 2012, created the list of options for meeting mobility and transit needs in the corridor.
An initial Alternatives Analysis to explore options for streetcar or bus rapid transit system was completed in 2015. This included an increasingly detailed evaluation of alternatives to eliminate flawed alternatives and identify those that best meet the needs of the corridor with the least environmental impact.
Following the Alternatives Analysis, the team identified a Locally Preferred Alternative, and moved to the Conceptual Engineering/Environmental Analysis phase to present a recommendation for side-running BRT running in exclusive lanes during peak periods in January 2016. Residents, businesses and stakeholders responded with a request to develop a more visionary, comprehensive transit investment.
Colfax Corridor Connections Alternatives Analysis — DRAFT, June 2015 (PDF)
The Colfax Corridor Connections Community Task Force comprises individuals representing neighborhood organizations and business interests within the corridor. This group provides an important connection between the project team and the community and its input will help inform the process. The Community Task Force is also an important resource for sharing project information with the constituents they represent.
Each of the following organizations has been invited to participate in the Community Task Force program:
Denver Business Groups
Denver Neighborhood/Community Groups
Aurora Business Groups
Aurora Neighborhood/Community Groups
Bicycle and pedestrian accessibility is a critical component of the Colfax Corridor Connections project. As such, the City and County of Denver, along with our partnering agencies, are identifying short term opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle access improvements that support the larger East Colfax BRT project.