Once Upon a Highway: The Transformation of U.S. 36 Highway to Colorado’s Multimodal Asset

Woman rides bike along US 36 while RTD Flatiron Flyer bus drives on US 36

Once upon a time, a few driven people got together to talk amongst themselves about how a stretch of Colorado asphalt could be re-envisioned to enhance the connection between two major metropolitan areas: Denver and Boulder.

The U.S. 36 Highway, once a road overrun with suburban sprawl by the late nineties, would be reimagined into a showcase of functional multimodal transportation choices.

Colorado’s most connected and accessible highway now regularly yields novel and exciting ways to move people through the northwest metro region. What was once just nebulous talk is now a solid partnership of ongoing expectation.

For more than two decades, leaders from the business and civic communities have committed to fixing off-the-chain traffic congestion. Commuting Solutions and other service organizations joined the mission to bring tangible solutions that meet the needs of people who traveled in, through, and around the northwest metro region.    

The Northwest Mayors & Commissioners Coalition, which includes the jurisdictions of Boulder, Boulder County, Longmont, Erie, Lafayette, Superior, Louisville, and the City & County of Broomfield and Westminster, steadily rallied support for the vision.

Bring on the Change

Where there had been a dearth of ideas and zero innovation, cohesion and a plan emerged. The work to expand U.S. 36 into a multimodal regional asset began in earnest, spurred by a blueprint of recommendations from the U.S. 36 Environmental Impact Statement.

First up was a major capacity expansion on a rebuilt roadway. That allowed for managed lanes and durable shoulders for designated buses and express lanes. Alongside, a highway for cyclists called the US 36 Bikeway was added to connect the corridor’s communities.

Light rail, the B Line, connected RTD’s Union and Westminster stations as part of RTD’s FasTracks project, the nation’s largest transit expansion project. The Flatiron Flyer introduced Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between Denver and its northwest metro region.

Expand the Plan

Working together for the long term, RTD, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), Colorado DOT, residents, the business community, corridor communities, Commuting Solutions, and others continually shepherd the mission of adapting U.S. 36 to connect people to places throughout the region. Reducing the vehicular footprint, seeking better air quality, and more travel choices brought about the U.S. 36 Bikeway, providing a designated bike route to/from Denver and Boulder.

Walking time to/from a bus stop, or “first and final mile” gaps, have been bridged with nine Bike-n-Ride shelters and wayfinding where commuters can securely store a bicycle used for those first/final miles of a commute or their transit travel.

Be the Change

June of 2022 is packed with events and fun activities for you to explore new travel and commuting options along the U.S. 36 corridor. 

  • Take the Commuting Solutions Flatiron Flyer Ridership Challenge, to try the region’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit service which travels along U.S. 36.
  • Ride your bike to work and use one of the Bike-n-Ride shelters, two of which launched in Broomfield and Westminster at RTD stations right off U.S. 36 and within close reach of the U.S. 36 Bikeway.

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June 25 Membership Meeting

June 25, 2024  | 8:00 – 9:30 p.m.
At Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster