Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Denver RTD recommends ‘hybrid’ approach for FasTracks Northwest plan

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The Regional Transportation District in Denver, Colo., staff made its recommendation to the RTD Board of Directors to keep the Northwest Rail Line to Longmont in the FasTracks plan, but to add bus rapid transit service to address transit needs until the full build out of the rail line. The board will make its decision on whether to accept the staff recommendation or move forward in a different direction at a meeting on March 20.

After much analysis on the three options for moving forward with transit service for the Northwest service area, the RTD staff recommended a hybrid plan that includes phasing in commuter rail, while also implementing a bus rapid transit system.

Under this recommendation, RTD would build the Northwest Rail Line to Church Ranch Blvd. in Westminster in the 2020-2022 timeframe and provide up to 80 miles of bus rapid transit by 2020. The BRT will help provide needed mobility solutions in the Northwest area while the rail component is being built incrementally as funding becomes available.

"This approach will not delay any of the other FasTracks projects and allows us to continue with our vision to build rail in the Northwest area," said RTD General Manager Phil Washington.

The first segment of the Northwest Rail Line from Denver Union Station to south Westminster is already funded and being built as part of the Eagle P3 project, which will also build out the East Rail Line to DIA and the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge. This first segment is 6.2 miles and scheduled for completion in 2016.

The segment from south Westminster to Church Ranch Blvd. would add another six miles and would be funded from the new .4 percent sales tax if RTD has a successful sales tax election. Between the two segments, RTD would build out 12 of the 41 miles of Northwest Rail by 2022, which is 30 percent of the rail line.

"By building Northwest Rail in segments and augmenting that service with bus rapid transit, RTD can best meet the region's mobility needs sooner, while remaining fiscally responsible," said Washington.

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