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RTD explores funding options to complete FasTracks program


On Tuesday, Regional Transportation District of Denver (RTD) officials presented board members with several options for advancing the FasTracks program based on available funds and the potential for future funding. The program, which initially was expected to cost $4.7 billion and be complete by 2017, has encountered skyrocketing construction costs and plummeting sales tax revenue, causing a multi-billion-dollar budget gap and extending the FasTracks timeline.

During the past several months, RTD staff members have been working to determine how much funding still is available for projects that are not yet under construction or ready to start construction. FasTracks calls for building six new rail lines and extending three existing lines, as well as redeveloping Denver Union Station.

The West Corridor and Denver Union Station projects currently are under construction, and the East Corridor, Gold Line and a short segment of the Northwest Corridor are under contract to be constructed through the Eagle P3 project.

RTD has $305 million in remaining FasTracks funds that can be applied to the other projects prior to securing funds to complete the entire program. Options for using those funds include spending all the funds on one corridor, making minimum investments in each corridor or completing final design on each corridor, according to RTD.

In the long run, the agency will need additional funds to finish building all the segments. Staff members presented options to seek voter approval to increase the local sales tax by 0.4 percent, 0.3 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent. If approved, the options would enable RTD to complete the program by 2018, 2022, 2027 and 2035, respectively.

The agency is accepting public input on the options until Dec. 17.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/11/2010