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Project History


The Central Rail Extension is part of FasTracks, RTD's voter-approved, comprehensive plan to expand transit service in the Denver metro area.

Did you know?
  • The current Central Rail Line originally opened in 1994 and is Denver's first light rail line.
  • The 5.3 mile Central Rail Line currently runs from I-25/Broadway, through downtown Denver, and along Welton Street to 30th/Downing.
  • The Central Rail Extension is the shortest FasTracks rail project at 0.8 miles.
  • Unlike most other FasTracks corridors, the Central Rail Extension is entirely within a built/developed urban environment.
As part of the planning process, an Environmental Evaluation (EE) for the Central Rail Extension was conducted and adopted by the RTD Board of Directors in 2010. The EE recommended a preferred alternative that would extend the existing light rail service that ends at 30th/Downing almost a mile north to the 38th/Blake Station. It was recommended that the light rail trains share travel lanes with vehicles on Downing Street and 36th Street. New stations were proposed at 33rd/Downing and 35th/Downing.

The EE also recommended that the existing Central Rail Line service remain essentially the same. Trains travelling on the new tracks between 38th/Blake and 30th/Downing would continue travelling southwest along Welton Street into the California/Stout light rail loop, return northeast along Welton to the 30th/Downing Station and continue to the 38th/Blake Station.

In May 2013, the Five Points Business District completed a Streetcar Coordination Plan that, among other things, considered a plan to convert the Central Rail Line from light rail trains to smaller, lower-profile, modern streetcar vehicles. While there are numerous modern streetcar systems in the U.S. and abroad, RTD's system does not currently include modern streetcars.

The Central Rail Extension is funded through RTD's voter-approved FasTracks Program, but according to RTD's most recent cash flow forecast, FasTracks money for the Central Rail Extension will not be available until well into the future.

RTD is currently conducting the Central Rail Extension Mobility Study. In partnership with the community, the study will revisit the EE's preferred alternative to establish a long-term vision for the entire Central Rail Line and identify a near-term implementation plan for the extension in the event funding becomes available sooner than what is currently anticipated.

Upon completion of the study - and once funding is secured - the Central Rail Extension will move to final design and construction. During this phase, RTD will continue coordination with project partners, coordinating agencies and the public. In addition, a construction mitigation plan and a communications program will be included to provide further information about the project.








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