Mar 8, 2023 - News

East Colfax transit project enters final design phase

A rendering of the East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit route. Illustration: Courtesy of the city's Department of Transportation & Infrastructure.

The East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project — which would create bus-only lanes along the busiest corridor in metro Denver — is finally taking shape.

Details: As currently planned, the BRT route would run just under 10 miles — primarily along Colfax Avenue — between I-225 in Aurora to Union Station in Denver, and include dedicated bus lanes on the route.

Why it matters: The goal is to move more people more efficiently around the metro area by providing more frequent service.

Yes, but: Nearly six years after voters approved borrowing $55 million to build it, the city is only just starting the final design phase for the project.

  • City officials tell Axios Denver it could cost between $250 million to $300 million to build, with $150 million coming from a Federal Transit Administration grant the city anticipates getting, and the rest covered by the city and other sources.

Driving the news: A $17.8 million contract for the project was approved recently by the Denver City Council.

  • The contract will cover costs for design and help the city manage the federal funding, Colfax BRT program director Jonathan Stewart tells Axios Denver.
  • The five-year contract with Triunity will be paid largely by the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure's budget.
  • Stewart said this will ensure the project stays on budget, is in compliance with federal benchmarks, and provides construction oversight once that phase begins.

The intrigue: Stewart said he feels confident the project will be completed by 2027.

  • "It gives us a really great opportunity to start reinventing how Colfax moves people through the city," Stewart tells Axios Denver about the project.

What they're saying: "It will be a long-awaited, much-needed expanded transit option for folks who use that corridor," Molly McKinley, policy director at Denver Streets Partnership, tells us.

  • McKinley, whose nonprofit advocates for more people-friendly and safer streets, said she wants to see a connected network of similar buses around the metro area.

Of note: Stewart said the federal money is expected to be part of President Biden's 2024 budget scheduled to be submitted to Congress this week.

What's next: Stewart said construction on the project is slated to start in June 2024.

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