RTD To Begin 1st Phase of Light Rail Reconstruction Project in May

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
image description
Courtesy of RTD

DENVER – In the first phase of a multi-phase major reconstruction project of its downtown light rail, RTD will focus on five at-grade rail and street intersections.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will begin a reconstruction project for light rail track in downtown Denver. Starting in May, the first of multiple phases will focus on five segments of at-grade rail and street intersections in the Downtown Loop at $152 million. These areas include 15th and Stout Street, 17th and Stout Street, 15th and California Street, 17th and California Street, and Broadway and Welton Street. These intersections will not be reconstructed at the same time. Instead, RTD and the City and County of Denver will discuss potential closures and develop detour plans for traffic. According to the report, vehicular traffic may be merged to one lane or rerouted around the intersections. RTD’s bus routes may also be temporarily impacted.

Stout and 15th: Courtesy of RTD
California and 15th: Courtesy of RTD
Stout and 17th: Courtesy of RTD
California and 17th: Courtesy of RTD
Broadway and Welton: Courtesy of RTD

Since 2012, RTD has undertaken “17 isolated projects in the central corridor to replace sections of curved rail, switches, crossings, signals, and other rail infrastructure.” This new reconstruction project will leverage previous work in order to minimize closures. 

Starting May 26th, D and H line trains will be rerouted to Denver Union Station. L line service will be suspended. According to the report, no light rail service will operate in RTD’s central corridor through September of this year. Once the first phase finishes in September, crews “will pause reconstruction work until 2025, and all light rail services will resume normal operations.”

The Downtown Loop in the Business District “is part of RTD’s inaugural light rail line and opened in October 1994.” With almost three decades of service, there are several segments along the corridor that require in-depth reconstruction. This includes “removing all current rail infrastructure, concrete, ties and ballasts. Crews will also address drains below the 30-year-old rail system before fully rebuilding each segment.”

RTD General Manager and CEO, Debra A. Johnson said, “Maintaining RTD’s assets and infrastructure is essential to preserving the region’s previous investments in its mass transportation system. . . Managing and maintaining assets in a state of good repair ensues the long-term integrity of the rail network for all individuals who entrust RTD to deliver them to their destinations.”

Phase Two, Three, and Four will begin in 2025, and work on each phase may occur simultaneously. Currently, the agency’s project team is developing reconstruction plans for these phases. Phase Two will focus on the Midblock Reconstruction in the Downtown Loop. Phase Three will focus on Colfax Avenue Alignment Reconstruction, and Phase Four will focus on Welton Street Corridor.

On Tuesday, February 27th, RTD Board of Directors’ met to outline these four near-term phases as well as the “agency’s plans to reduce the impact to customers.” Starting in march, staff will put together a “comprehensive communications and outreach plan to ensure customers and stakeholders are well aware of potential impacts to services and planned detours.” Information on the project can also be found on RTD’s website.

“The agency is ensuring that its 30-year-old system continues to provide reliable service for at least 30 more years and beyond,” Johnson said.

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