Downtown Express I-23 HOV Lanes

Project Overview

The Downtown Express consists of 6.6 miles of bus/high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes running from downtown Denver to US 36. Downtown Express lanes are reversible with vehicles moving with rush hour traffic southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening. A Traffic Management System (TMS), which includes changeable signs, traffic gates, and closed-circuit television, provides a safety feature to the barrier-separated lanes.

The project included expansion of two RTD Park-n-Rides, Wagon Road Park-n-Ride located at I-25 and 120th Avenue, and Thornton Park-n-Ride located at I-25 and 88th Avenue. In addition, a bike and pedestrian path running along the south side of 20th Street, four acres of new parks on the east side of the Platte River, and two new community parks in the Highland Neighborhood on the west side of I-25 were developed.

At the time the Downtown Express was the largest construction project ever undertaken by RTD, and it was the first project that RTD partnered with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the City and County of Denver, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Highway Administration to construct.

On May 8, 2001, the bus/HOV lane was extended to Pecos Street and US 36 with the opening of the US 36 Direct Connect. This $148 million extension provides an additional 2.5 miles of barrier-separated, reversible HOV lanes, allowing motorists to connect from US 36 HOV lanes onto I-25 HOV lanes.

Construction to extend the bus/HOV lane north on I-25 to 78th Avenue was completed in October 2004. This extension provides an additional 2 miles of bus/HOV lane for I-25 traffic. On June 2, 2006, CDOT instituted a change in operations, converting the lanes to HOV/tolled express lanes, allowing single occupant vehicles to access the lanes by paying a toll.

Currently, on weekdays the Downtown Express lanes carry approximately 11,000 cars and buses in both directions. This number includes 300 buses (with 7,200 passengers), 6,000 high-occupancy vehicles (with approximately 15,000 passengers), and almost 3,400 toll vehicles - for a total of over 27,600 passengers.

Benefits of the Downtown Express

Project Cost and Funding

Capital Cost: $228 million


Sources Amount

Federal Transit Administration $70 million

Regional Transportation District $54 million

Colorado Department of Transportation and
Federal Highway Administration $84 million

City and County of Denver $20 million