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Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver General Manager Phil Washington toured the West Rail Line, which RTD is building to improve access to major employers and area universities and reduce traffic in a highly congested corridor.
In the wake of recent House efforts to remove a primary source of funding for transit systems, the nation needs to continue funding transit projects like the West Rail Line, LaHood said in a prepared statement. Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to end using the federal gas tax to help fund mass transit.
“With record high transit ridership, now is not the time to retreat from President Obama’s vision of an ‘America built to last’ by eliminating a guaranteed funding source for public transportation that has been in place since the Reagan administration,” LaHood said. “More and more Americans are looking for greater choices in transportation today, and it’s important we provide the funding to ensure transit remains one of the choices.”
The 12-mile West Rail Line project has created more than 500 construction-related jobs, according to RTD. Now 85 percent complete, the line is expected to open in May 2013.
About half of the $709.8 million project is funded by the Federal Transit Administration, including a $308 million federal funding agreement awarded in January 2009. When RTD opens the West Rail Line next year, it will be the first completed leg of the FasTracks program, which will add 122 miles of new commuter- and light-rail lines, and 18 miles of bus rapid transit across an eight-county district.