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Colfax Corridor Connections

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 Colfax Corridor study area between Auraria Campus and Interstate 225

Project Map & Study Boundary | see full-size rendering

Project Goals

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. 

  • Improve mobility, connectivity, safety, accessibility, & economic viability 
  • Meet current and future person-trip demand 
  • Encourage a shift of auto trips to alternative modes 
  • Interact seamlessly, efficiently, and safely with other transportation corridors, systems, and modes in a fiscally sustainable manner

Schedule 

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.

  • 2012-2015 — Planning, outreach, and initial analysis of corridor needs
  • 2015-2016 — Developed an initial recommendation for a more traditional, side-running BRT system on Colfax and presented to the public for feedback
  • 2016-2017 — Following public input, begin analysis and conceptual designs for center-running BRT in exclusive lanes
  • Summer 2017 — Public outreach 
  • Fall 2017 — Work begins on design and environmental requirements, identifying funding sources
  • 2018-19 — Final design and implementation plan 
  • 2020+ — Construction and opening
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Bus Rapid Transit (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.

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:

  • Significant shift from vehicles to transit due to improved travel times, reliability and convenience
  • Bus ridership more than doubles – from 22,000 up to 50,000 daily riders by 2035
  • Improved transit travel time of up to 15 minutes during peak hours by 2035
  • Improved safety, connectivity, accessibility and mobility options for all travelers
  • Increased streetscaping and economic development opportunities
  • Improved access to 280,000 jobs and nearly 50 schools along and near Colfax Avenue

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 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. This minor additional diversion is not expected to result in significant additional delays.

In order to keep vehicles and buses moving, a number of operational improvements will be made to congestion hotspots on Colfax and parallel roadways. These options include, but are not limited to: signal 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. The final routing, stop locations and branding of these routes will be further defined as the project moves forward. 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. 

No significant impacts to on-street parking are anticipated. 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 2018. Initial targets anticipate construction could begin by 2020.

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.

 

Project Planning & History

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.

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

  • Colfax Business Improvement District 
  • Colfax On The Hill
  • Downtown Denver Partnership 
  • East High School 
  • The Fax Partnership
  • Points Historical Redevelopment Corporation
  • Santa Fe Drive Redevelopment Corporation

Denver Neighborhood/Community Groups

  • Balustrade HOA
  • Bellvue-Hale Neighborhood Association
  • Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods
  • City Park West Neighborhood Association
  • Civic Center Association
  • Congress Park Neighbors, Inc.
  • Cultural Arts Residential Organization
  • Curtis Park Neighbors
  • 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.
  • Neighbors And Friends For Cheesman Park
  • South City Park Neighborhood Association
  • South Park Hill Neighborhood Organization
  • Sumner Neighborhood Association
  • Swallow Hill Neighborhood Association
  • Triangle Neighborhood Association
  • Unsinkables, Inc.
  • Uptown Alliance
  • Wyman Historic District Neighborhood Association

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

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.

Learn more about Colfax Multimodal Access (PDF)