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RTD board approves 'hybrid' option for FasTracks northwest line


On Tuesday, the Regional Transportation District of Denver’s (RTD) board unanimously approved a staff-recommended “hybrid option” to build rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) in the northwest service area over the next several years as part of the FasTracks program.

The board also approved the 2012 FasTracks financial plan, which takes into account that the updated capital cost for FasTracks has grown from $6.8 billion in 2011 to $7.4 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars by 2022, RTD officials said in a prepared statement.

The financial plan’s cost and schedule assumes a successful 0.4 percent sales tax measure in 2012. The board has not yet decided whether to pursue a referendum this year.

The new financial plan includes the Northwest Rail Line to Church Ranch and BRT in the northwest area, but does not include a line from Church Ranch to Longmont, officials said, adding that the final cost would be determined “following future negotiations.”

Most of the remaining FasTracks elements are scheduled for completion by 2020, including the I-225 Rail Line; North Metro Rail Line; U.S. 36 BRT; and the Southwest, Southeast and Central Corridor extensions. The northwest line to Church Ranch would be complete in the 2020-2022 timeframe, RTD officials said.

The northwest line from Church Ranch to Longmont is projected to be completed in the 2026-2032 timeframe, as funding for construction and service becomes available from the existing 0.4 percent sales and use tax.

“This strategy keeps us on track with our commitment to implement the whole FasTracks vision through a fiscally responsible approach,” said RTD Chairman Lee Kemp. “It allows us to meet the more immediate transit needs in the northwest area through bus rapid transit, while making the ultimate long-term investment in Northwest Rail as our cash flow allows and as transit needs grow.”

Also Tuesday, the board approved its annual FasTracks report to the Denver Regional Council of Governments, which is scheduled to review it and a financial plan in June.

The FasTracks program calls for building 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of BRT service and 21,000 new parking spaces, and redeveloping Denver Union Station.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/29/2012