[Colorado-talk] Fw: Information on Upcoming FasTracks and bus coridor to Boulder

Nehemiah Hall nrh_lists at n-republic.net
Wed Feb 17 13:52:26 UTC 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Nehemiah Hall 
To: chapter at nfbdenver.org 
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 06:50
Subject: Information on Upcoming FasTracks and bus coridor to Boulder

I thought many would find this of interest. This is one of the best clear and concise  articles I've seen on the upcoming additions to RTD literail and the upcoming new bus route to Boulder.

FasTracks: What comes next in Denver's ambitious rail plans, part 1

By Joel Warner in 
Follow That Story

Thu., Feb. 11 2010 @ 2:58PM

fastracks map.jpg ?
Last Friday was a very big day in Denver transit.

The feds announced $304 million in loans for Union Station, completing the funding necessary for the new transit hub, as well as essentially committing
to a $1 billion injection over several years for several future FasTracks rail lines. 

That means several major train projects long discussed are finally ready to be built. So what happens next? When will shovels actually hit the ground, how
long will construction take and how it impact all us in the meantime? To find out, Westword checked in with some of the folks behind the big digs. Here's
what we learned about FasTracks from Pauletta Tonilas, the program's public information manager. Tune in tomorrow to learn about Union Station.


When will we see construction?
One FasTrack line is already well on its way -- the West Corridor running from Union Station to Golden and Lakewood, scheduled to be completed in 2012
and open to the public a year later. New access ramps and other improvements are also nearly complete for a new bus rapid transit corridor between Denver
and Boulder along US-36 

Now another line is poised to begin: The East Corridor from Union Station to Denver International Airport. Since the line's part of FasTrack's Eagle P3
public-private partnership, RTD will soon be considering proposals from two private developers interested in tackling the project. Once the final team
is selected this summer, Tonilas hopes construction will break ground in August.

If all goes as planned with federal funding, the second phase of Eagle P3 will begin sometime in 2011, says Tonilas. That includes the construction of the
Gold Line, from Union Station to Arvada and Wheat Ridge, as well as part of the planned Northwest Rail Corridor, which will extend commuter rail up to
71st Avenue in Westminster.

Where will we see construction, and how will it impact traffic?
The East Corridor will be built mostly within railroad right-of-way along Smith Road in north Denver, then will run parallel to Peña Boulevard to the airport.
The Gold Line will run north from Union Station along existing rail corridors, then turn west and follow alongside Interstate 70, ending at Ward Road in
Wheat Ridge.

Tonlias says construction won't significantly impact traffic along I-70 or other major thoroughfares, and any work shutting down side roads will be done
at night or low-traffic hours. 

When will construction be complete?
The bus rapid transit corridor to Boulder will be complete by this summer, speeding up bus commute times along US-36 by about fifteen minutes each way.
The West Corridor to Golden will be complete in 2012 and open to the public a year later. Tonilas says the East Corridor to DIA should be up and running
by 2015, and the Gold Line is scheduled to be operational in 2016.

How will all these new lines impact daily life? Tonilas offers an attractive scenario: Imagine stepping on a train at Union Station and getting off at the
DIA terminal 29 minutes later -- without those pricey taxi or parking fees.

What challenges lie ahead?
Funding is the biggest problem by far. While the completion of Eagle P3 will signify that about 60 percent of the FasTracks plan will have been built,
RTD is still short $2.4 billion needed to construct the rest. That includes an I-225 rail corridor in Aurora, an eighteen-mile North Metro line into Adams
County, short extensions for the already existing Southeast and Southwest rail lines, and the full build-out of the Northwest line to Boulder and Longmont.

The timing of all this additional work appears to be dependent on when -- and if -- RTD convinces voters to pass another sales tax to fund it. If, for example,
RTD's board of directors decides to pursue the sale tax in 2010 and it passes, the whole shebang could be wrapped by 2017. If the board gets the tax through
in 2012, FasTrack's completion will be pushed back to 2019.

And if there's no additional sales tax? Tonilas says the work will still all get done -- but not until 2042. And by that point, it will likely be pointless
since we'll all have flying Jetsons cars.

Original Article at: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/02/what_comes_next_in_denvers_amb.php

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