9:52am

Wed July 25, 2012
Transportation

As Another RTD Project Is Green Lighted, Northern Communities Wait

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to complete the I-225 FasTracks corridor between Parker Road and I-70. Residents along the proposed Northwest Rail Line to Longmont aren't happy.

The RTD Board approved an unsolicited proposal by Kiewit Infrastructure to complete the I-225 line by November 2015. It would open after 6 months of testing in mid-2016.

However, the Denver Post reports public comments made during the meeting show some northern Colorado residents are not pleased with the board’s decision.

Northglenn Mayor Joyce Downing, who represented a consortium of local government and business groups, said north and northwest communities have been bypassed by FasTracks planners in favor of south metro light rail projects such as the I-225 segment.

"To date and through the proposed action to complete the I-225 segment, the investments in FasTracks that actually put trains on the track have been made everywhere but the north area," said Downing during public comments Tuesday. "We cannot standby any longer and watch as the completion of other corridors move up the schedule while real plans for our corridors appear to move further out."

RTD Spokesperson Pauletta Tonilas says the Northwest Corridor is the final segment slated for completion in the FasTracks system, and won’t be fully completed until 2044 without additional funds.

Earlier this year RTD board members voted unanimously not to ask for a .04% sales tax increase this year, deciding to ‘explore and cultivate’ alternative funding options. However, Tonilas says RTD is committed to finishing the Northwest Corridor.

The Denver Business Journal reports the funding for the I-225 corridor will come from bonds on existing sales tax revenue.

In a statement, Board Chair Lee Kemp says bringing light rail service to Aurora would offer economic growth for the entire metro area.

“We heard compelling input from the public to support this decision. Providing connectivity between major employment and medical centers and DIA, along with offering new transit options for tens of thousands of riders, will benefit people throughout the entire region.”

The approval Tuesday night of the Kiewit team should allow for construction on the first segment of the I-225 line to begin in May of 2013.