A Denver City Council committee on Tuesday approved a series of measures that city staff say will accelerate a long-planned bus rapid transit line on East Colfax Avenue.
The project will dramatically reshape East Colfax, one of the densest corridors in the metro area. It will convert two vehicle lanes from Broadway to Yosemite to bus-only lanes and make other improvements between downtown Denver and Aurora.
The project has been in the works for years and was most recently set to open in 2028, but city staff say they are now aiming to speed up the timeline by 18 months to 2026. Buses will run every four minutes during peak times.
“When we have engaged with the public over the last couple of years, one of the things that comes up all the time is, ‘Why is this taking so long? And is there anything that you can do to speed things up?’ ” project director Jonathan Stewart told the council committee. “I’m excited to say, yes, actually there is something that we can do to speed things up.”
That something, Stewart explained, is to accelerate the design process. The committee approved an amended contract with its design consultant Parsons Transportation Group that will enable that and also allow the city to move up an important federal grant application, Stewart said.
The entire project will cost between $250 million and $300 million. City staff are anticipating a Federal Transit Administration grant will cover about $150 million, with $70 million coming from Denver and the balance from other local sources.
“This is something that many neighbors are extremely concerned about,” said Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer, who represents East Colfax neighborhoods, including Hale and Montclair.
Some have objected to the loss of vehicle travel lanes and parking spots on Colfax. But, Sawyer said, the new speedy bus line will allow more people to move through the area — albeit on a bus, not their vehicles.
“This is something that needs to happen,” she said.
The committee also approved agreements with Aurora and the Regional Transportation District, which will operate bus service on the line. The agreements will next go to the full City Council.
Editors note: This story has been updated to correct the amount of project funding coming from Denver.