Feds want to give $127M to Denver’s East Colfax rapid bus line project

But most of that money needs to be approved by Congress first.
2 min. read
Passengers board the 15L bus on East Colfax in Aurora on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.
Nathaniel Minor/CPR News

The Federal Transit Administration wants to grant $126.9 million to Denver's planned East Colfax bus rapid transit line, which is expected to dramatically reshape one of the city's densest corridors.

The project will convert two traffic lanes on East Colfax Avenue, from Broadway to Yosemite Street, to bus-only lanes that will allow them to avoid traffic. Buses will operate in mixed traffic between Yosemite and I-225 in Aurora. The line will be called the "Colfax Lynx."

The city and the Regional Transportation District, which will operate buses on the corridor, expect daily ridership to reach 35,900 daily passengers by 2040.

The Colfax grant is one of 18 worth a total of $4.45 billion for large public transit projects that the FTA wants to fund through 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and President Joe Biden's 2024 budget request to Congress.

"When these projects are complete, the result will be that more Americans will be able to take safe, reliable and efficient transit to wherever they need to be," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a virtual press conference with reporters on Thursday.

A rendering of the planned East Colfax bus rapid transit line.
City and County of Denver

Most of the money meant for Denver is included in Biden's budget request, which needs Congressional approval. House Republican leaders have already criticized the amount of spending in the president's proposal.

Still, in a news release, city and RTD officials said the FTA's funding recommendation is an "important step" in securing funding and ultimately opening the line in 2026.

"This funding recommendation demonstrates the USDOT's confidence in our ability to bring positive, transformative changes to East Colfax Avenue, changes that will create economic opportunity and improve quality of life for our residents by making travel safer, faster and more equitable - and better for our environment," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement.

The Colfax project's total estimated cost is between $250 million and $300 million.

Local officials said they will submit a final grant application this summer and intend to ask for the maximum the project is eligible for: $150 million. The remainder will be covered by local and regional sources.

Denverite reporter Rebecca Tauber contributed to this report.

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