FasTracks to have meetings and gather public comments

Posted 9/18/08

Tom Munds The Regional Transportation District plans a series of meetings so people can comment on five possible options for changes to FasTracks. …

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FasTracks to have meetings and gather public comments


Tom Munds

The Regional Transportation District plans a series of meetings so people can comment on five possible options for changes to FasTracks.

Officials acknowledge increasing costs, coupled with declining revenues, make it impossible to build the entire FasTracks project and complete it as promised by 2017.

Members of RTD staff and board of directors will be on hand for the meetings scheduled Sept. 23 to Oct. 24 to talk about the possible options to deal with the budget crunch.

Options include:

Build FasTracks according to the original timetable, using available revenues. That would mean not all of the project could be built.

Extend the schedule to build FasTracks as planned. This could push the completion date to around 2034.

Seek voter approval for additional revenues to complete the entire project on time.

Create a revised service system, including a single-track rail layout in some areas, which would reduce service frequency.

Cal Marsalla, RTD director, said in a recent interview that the district is dedicated to making sure any changes in the FasTracks plan are equitable.

"The financial situation means we must make changes in out FasTracks plans," he said. "However, we want to see the entire FasTracks plan constructed and plan to do it. I just can't tell you when it will all be completed."

He noted the West Corridor to the Jefferson County Government Center is currently under construction and on time. He also said federal funds should make it possible to have a commuter-rail line running from Union Station to Denver International Airport.

Marsalla said all the options and details of progress of FasTracks will be explained in full at the meetings so people will have the information they need to comment on the proposals.

The final decisions rest with the RTD board and the comments from public meetings will be summarized and provided to board members along with the other data and information well before they vote on the issue.

The first step is holding the public meetings, and those scheduled in the local area include:

Oct. 1 - Aurora Center for Active Adults, 30 Del Mar Circle at 6 p.m.

Oct, 2 - Ken Caryl Ranch House Recreation Center, 7676 S. Continental Divide Road, Jefferson County - 6 p.m.

Oct. 2 - Englewood Civic Center community room, 1000 Englewood Parkway, Englewood - 6 p.m.

Oct. 22 - Lone Tree City Council Chambers, 8527 Lone Tree Parkway, Lone Tree - 6 p.m.

Oct. 23 - Metro District of Highlands Ranch, 62 W. Plaza Drive, Highlands Ranch - 6 p.m.

The officials will hold a total of 16 meeting. The full list of dates, times and locations can be found on the Web site at

After years of work, RTD brought forth the FasTracks proposal, noting the need for additional funds to build the plan to expand and improve the mass transit system in the metro area. The proposal outlined the planned transit improvements and set a timeline to complete construction by 2017. Voters approved increasing RTD's portion of the sales tax from sixth-tenths of a cent to a penny on each dollar.

The voter go-ahead launched the effort to construct an additional 119 miles of light rail and commuter rail service, transforming Union Station into a transit hub, creating five new park-N-Ride facilities and improving existing bus routes.

Officials used tested computer models to forecast costs and revenues. The original cost was pegged at $4.7 billion and figured costs to go up at a rate of about 3.3 percent. However, construction and material costs have skyrocketed, increasing at about 11 percent a year. Additionally, revenues were predicted to increase at about 6 percent a year but, reflecting the slow economy, revenues have only increases about 2.5 percent a year. The result is current estimates are it will cost $7.9 billion to construct FasTracks as planned while, at the same time, revenues are expected to fall about $2.8 billion short of projections.


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