Colfax transit, safety makeover proposal to cost $75 million

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DENVER -- A transformation of what many call Denver’s main street will become a reality if city council members and voters agree to a city-wide bond proposal.

Two projects in the proposal would add medians, crosswalks and permanent bus lanes to East Colfax Avenue. The projects combined would cost an estimated $75 million as part of the city's $937 million bond proposal.

City leaders have called for a $20 million safety improvement project along Colfax -- Denver’s most dangerous corridor for pedestrians.

“[These are] things that make the area safer and more comfortable for the tens of thousands of people who work and shop and live in this area,” said Hilarie Portell, who heads the Colfax-Mayfair Business Improvement District.

Portell leads one of four business improvement districts that are working to get the job done. She said mass transit will also be a focus along Colfax.

An estimated $55 million would add center bus-only lanes with protected islands to keep riders safe.

The project would create a 10-mile rapid transit corridor from the Auraria Campus to Aurora -- benefiting the 24,000 bus riders who travel the route daily. Buses would come every five minutes.

Bike lanes would also be added to a handful of side streets crossing Colfax. While most people aren’t arguing about safety benefits, there are critics who said the new designs will only make traffic worse.

The bond proposal will be considered by the Denver City Council on Aug. 14.

If approved, the measure will go to voters for approval in November. The projects are expected to take several years to complete.