Two riders approach a westbound RTD bus ready to board through the back door on East Colfax Avenue at Broadway in Denver on April 17, 2020.

Denver's Bus Rapid Transit project on East Colfax Avenue picked up momentum Thursday, as the city announced that Virginia-based Parsons Transportation Group will complete environmental permit requirements and preliminary design. 

The city called the BRT the largest transportation project in Denver's history.

The project, initially expected to cost about $200 million, gets $55 million from the Elevate Denver Bond Program passed by voters in 2017, along with other grants and local and federal funding sources. Learn more about the project by clicking here.

Last year, Colorado voters rejected the Proposition 110 ballot question to raise the state sales tax to pay for transportation projects, including $70 million for the BRT project in Denver.

The BRT would provide a dedicated lane for rapid bus service from North Broadway downtown to Yosemite Street along East Colfax, about 5.8 miles, including safety improvements at 12 intersections. The Elevate Denver bonds also are expected to deliver $20 million in improvements to benefit pedestrians.

The project also promises "streetscaping" along the commercial corridor and better economic development opportunities, according to the city.

After negotiations with the consultant, the Denver City Council is expected to consider the contract in the fall. The National Environmental Policy Act requirements and preliminary design could take up to three years, the city Public Works Department said Thursday.

"It will be transformational in how people move along this corridor and in our city and will give Denver critical experience to potentially replicate on other corridors to move more people, more efficiently," the city said in a press advisory.

Besides improving "travel times, reliability and convenience, the project is expected to facilitate spiking bus ridership from the current 22,000 daily riders up to 50,000 riders by 2035, accessing 280,000 jobs and about 50 schools along and near one of the city's busiest corridors.

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