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Denver RTD to buy BNSF property for FasTracks segment

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The Denver Regional Transportation District has agreed to buy BNSF Railway property that’s to become part of the FasTracks system, including an initial southern segment of the Northwest Rail Corridor, according to the Longmont Times-Call. RTD expects to pay $93.7 million to buy BNSF right-of-way and other properties the railroad company owns between Denver’s Union Station and a point near 72nd Street in Westminster, under an agreement the transit agency announced July 16.The RTD plans to use that real estate for commuter rail service on FasTracks’ Gold Line between Denver and Wheat Ridge, as well as for the southern segment of the Northwest Rail Corridor between Denver and Longmont.The RTD’s agreement with BNSF also commits the transit agency to spending an estimated $32 million to relocate or realign several BNSF facilities between Union Station and Pecos Street, including work at BNSF’s 23rd Street yard.The RTD board is still wrestling with how to cover a projected $2-billion shortfall to complete the entire $7-billion FasTracks system by the original 2017 target date. But FasTracks spokeswoman Karen Morales said that the money to buy the BNSF properties and pay for relocating BNSF facilities will be available under the transit agency’s current system-improvements budget.Formal purchase agreements are to be carried out by January, when the RTD expects to take over ownership of the BNSF property.Morales said the RTD still is negotiating with BNSF over terms of an operating agreement under which the RTD would pay the railroad company for “time slots” to operate Northwest Rail Corridor passenger service on the tracks north of Westminster — tracks BNSF would continue to own and use for its freight trains. Morales said the RTD expects to complete the agreement about shared use of those tracks sometime in 2010.

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