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Stories Along the Line: The Long, Wicked Street
This is part of a series of articles about transit development that connects people traveling around the Denver metropolitan area. As RTD FasTracks develops its light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit service (BRT), we'll offer a snapshot of some things you might see (or not) along the way. We hope you enjoy stories along the line.
Before you board: Learn about the I-225 Rail Line projectConstruction on the Interstate 225 Rail Line began this past spring. The 10.5-mile I-225 light rail line is part of the Regional Transportation District's (RTD) FasTracks transit program. When it opens in 2016, the new light rail line will ease traffic on one of the Denver area's busiest highways and connect passengers to some of the region's most important destinations.
Riders will have access to Aurora, Denver's largest and most diverse suburb, the Aurora City Center and the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus and the adjacent Fitzsimons Life Science District. Travelers will also be able to transfer at Peoria to the eastbound commuter rail line to Denver International Airport or westbound into downtown Denver.
I-225: An abbreviated historyDenver sits at the axis of two important Colorado highways: Interstate 25, which runs north and south between the New Mexico and Wyoming borders, and Interstate 70, which runs east and west between the Utah and Kansas borders. Interstate 225, a "spur route" of I-25, unites them, running north and slightly east from I-25 to I-70 and traversing two cities (Aurora and Denver) and three counties (Adams, Arapahoe and Denver). Construction on the 12-mile highway began in 1964 and finished after several stages in 1976 at a cost of $27.5 million. Next year, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will mark the highway's 50th anniversary.
Next stop: Colfax AvenueWhen the I-225 light rail line opens in 2016, it will feature eight stations, including the Colfax Station, which will intersect with one of the Denver area's most storied landmarks: Colfax Avenue. Colfax, a.k.a. U.S. Highway 40, is the longest commercial street in the United States and once was one of two principal highways that served Denver before the advent of the interstate highway system. Today, Colfax runs from the Rocky Mountain foothills through leafy suburbs, revitalized city blocks, eclectic neighborhoods and across the Eastern Plains.
Little known factsColfax takes its name from the 19th century politician Schuyler Colfax, a U.S. representative, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the 17th vice president of the United States. He was a rising political star from Indiana when it was named after him sometime between 1865 and 1872.
Colfax runs from I-70 in the Golden area through Lakewood, Denver and then it intersects I-70 again east of Aurora. It also passes through the communities of Watkins, Bennett and Strasburg. A century ago, the avenue was the coveted address for railroad magnates and coal barons. Later, beat poet Jack Kerouac immortalized the strip in his seminal "On the Road," and Playboy magazine infamously christened Colfax the "longest, wickedest street in America."