Wed August 31, 2011

Obama Officials Tout Denver Rail Expansion

The Obama Administration’s top two transportation officials paid a visit to Colorado Wednesday to announce a billion dollar federal deal that will help finance Denver’s FasTracks passenger rail program, including the construction of a commuter line to the airport.

In "old town" Arvada, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined the Federal Transit Administration’s Peter Rogoff for the announcement and a ground breaking of the new “Gold” rail line linking the northwestern suburbs with central Denver.

Rogoff said the projects will create thousands of construction jobs in the short term, but a long-term economic boost.

"The economic development that’s going to accompany the creation of those rail lines is going to leave thousands of jobs on an enduring basis once the construction is done," Rogoff said.

The money is a welcome infusion for the FasTracks rail program.  Regional transit managers have long warned that declining sales tax revenues amid the poor economy could put future rail expansion projects on hold.  Nevertheless, they could still be forced to ask voters as early as next for a sales tax increase to fund the rest of expansion.