Bus-only lanes are coming to 17th Street downtown in the next few weeks

Crews started striping the lanes overnight Thursday.

An RTD bus drives down a freshly-painted bus lane on 17th Street downtown. Dec. 13, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

An RTD bus drives down a freshly-painted bus lane on 17th Street downtown. Dec. 13, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Denver Public Works crews began painting bus lanes on 17th Street downtown overnight as part of the Hancock administration’s bid to improve the speed and reliability of public transit.

When finished, the project will complement the busway on 15th Street, a major thoroughfare into downtown, two blocks away. The department reorganized 15th to prioritize buses earlier this fall. Like those lanes, the 17th Street busway will be closed to cars 24 hours a day, except when they’re making right turns.

For now, the busway will begin at Market Street because of nearby construction. Eventually, buses will have their own lanes between Blake Street and Broadway, according to Public Works. White lines, red paint, “Bus Only” pavement markings and overhead signs will delineate the lanes from general traffic.

A line of RTD buses dravel downstream on 17th Street along with rush hour traffic downtown, Feb. 5, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A line of RTD buses dravel downstream on 17th Street along with rush hour traffic downtown, Feb. 5, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Seventeenth Street is a major transit thoroughfare out of the city’s core. It sees more than 650 RTD buses per weekday, according to the streets department, and averages one bus a minute during rush hour. Fifteenth Street, a major bus corridor into downtown, has seen speedier buses since the lane was built, but an RTD spokesperson said limited data makes it too early to provide hard numbers.

Construction will take a “few weeks” and is not expected to continue this weekend because of weather, the spokesperson said.

Crews will remove metered parking spots on the right side of 17th to make room for the transit improvement. More than 460 metered spaces will remain in the area, according to Public Works.

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