Thursday, January 24, 2013

Denver RTD ends West Line construction, plans to refinance to accelerate North Metro Rail construction

A West Line train travels over the newly lit 6th Ave. bridge. A West Line train travels over the newly lit 6th Ave. bridge. Denver RTD

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) celebrated the completion of the West Rail Line construction Jan. 23 with lighting the 6th Avenue Bridge, which signifies the start of the countdown to the grand opening of the West Rail Line on April 26.

The 12.1-mile West Rail Line is the first rail line of RTD's FasTracks project to start construction and will be the first to open to the public on April 26, 2013, eight months ahead of the original schedule. The West Rail Line will operate between Denver Union Station in downtown Denver and the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden, serving Denver, Lakewood, the Denver Federal Center, Golden and Jefferson County.

In other news, RTD staff have been studying the FasTracks Internal Savings Account, as part of the agency's Risk Allocation Matrix, to identify additional ways to allocate more funds to complete FasTracks projects.

The agency has identified an item for the FasTracks Internal Savings Account that may allow it to take advantage of favorable debt interest savings. Refinancing a portion of its debt could offer RTD an opportunity to build the North Metro Rail Line to 72nd in Commerce City sooner than expected.

Possible financial market opportunities include:

• Refinancing three RTD debt issues at the current lower-than-issued rates to reduce payments, improve cash flow and provide additional capacity under TABOR.

• Issuing the needed bridge financing debt for the EagleP3 project now to bridge the Full Funding Grant Agreement at a lower interest rate than assumed, which would save interest costs and preserve additional capacity under TABOR.

• Issuing sales tax revenue bonds in 3rd Quarter, 2013 to finance remaining portion of the Denver Union Station to 72nd segment.

Meanwhile, RTD is analyzing federal grants programs and preparing to submit funding proposals for the remainder of the North Metro Corridor and is seeking financial assistance from partners in the region to fund the other 50 percent match (approximately $250 million).

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