Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the East Rail Line?
The East Rail Line is a 22.8-mile commuter rail transit corridor between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport (DIA). The East Rail Line serves as a connection between these two important areas and travels through the adjacent employment, neighborhoods, and new development areas. The line has five intermediate stations, located at 38th/Blake, Colorado Boulevard, Central Park Boulevard, Peoria Street, and 40th/Airport Boulevard.
2. When will construction begin on the East Rail Line?
Construction of the East Rail Line began in 2011, with the opening scheduled in 2016.
3. How will bus service change with the addition of the East Rail Line?
For any new transit project, RTD must determine how the existing bus system should be optimized given the change in travel patterns that results from a new rail line. When deciding how to restructure its bus service, RTD will evaluate feeder service ("feeder" buses are the routes that feed or serve the rail stations) to connect the surrounding activity centers and communities to East Rail Line stations, as well as regional connectivity and other adjustments that will best meet the changing travel needs and development patterns. Specific plans will be developed prior to opening day, but it's likely that many existing bus routes that run near the East Rail Line stations will be diverted to provide better access. Additionally, there are likely to be some new routes added, while existing routes that provide service that is similar to the East Rail Line rail service may be eliminated.
4. What role will the public have in decisions that are made now that the East Rail Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is complete?
While the EIS is one of the final opportunities for the public to provide input on larger decisions, the public will have the opportunity to stay involved throughout final design and construction phases of the East Rail Line. RTD will continue to keep stakeholders informed, and meetings may be held to gather input on specific topics of interest. However, it's important to note that opportunities for public input and participation change from phase to phase. Most opportunities for stakeholder involvement were provided during the planning phase of the East Rail Line, since opportunities for change become more limited after planning has been completed and decisions have been made. This is why public comments typically have the most impact during the decision-making process leading up to the release of the Final EIS.
5. What is the process for purchasing private property needed for this project?
Plans for the East Rail Line are constantly evolving as the project team finds new ways to avoid impacts and improve efficiency. Per federal law, RTD is not permitted to formally begin negotiations with property owners until receiving final approval on the project from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in the form of a Record of Decision. Now that the FTA has approved the project, RTD will soon begin notifying the landowners of properties that need to be purchased. Federal law requires that RTD provide fair market value appraisals, written offers, good faith negotiations and relocation benefits for properties that need to be purchased.
6. How will you mitigate noise impacts of the East Rail Line?
As part of the East Rail Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the project team developed several avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures for potential noise impacts. As train horns are often the primary cause of noise impacts for a rail project, RTD is recommending the establishment of Quiet Zones in the areas of greatest potential impact. Quiet Zones are segments of railroad lines where freight and commuter train crews are exempt from sounding their horn at street crossing. The level of safety at intersections must be improved to a level that makes the area eligible for this designation. RTD is highly involved in assisting the local municipalities to qualify and apply for a Quiet Zone designation. RTD's noise analysis has shown that with the implementation of a Quiet Zone, noise impacts in the East Rail Line corridor would be less than they are today -- even with the addition of the project. In areas where Quiet Zones are not recommended -- or if the Federal Railroad Administration and Public Utilities Commission deny the Quiet Zone application -- other mitigation measures are being considered.
7. I've heard that the East Rail Line will be funded with a public-private partnership. How will this affect the project?
RTD is using a public-private partnership to help fund several FasTracks commuter rail projects, including the East Rail Line, the Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility and the Gold Line. Known as the Eagle P3 Project, this public-private partnership program allows RTD to partner with the private sector to finance, design, build, operate and maintain several FasTracks projects under a single contract. In the public-private partnership agreement, RTD retains ownership of the system and will continue to set all of its operating and performance standards. The benefit is that the financial risk is largely shifted to the private partner. The private-sector partner was selected in summer of 2010 through a competitive proposal process. The concessionaire is Denver Transit Partners.
8. How much will riding the East Rail Line cost?
The East Rail Line will follow the current RTD zone based fare structure that is used on buses and light rail. Trips that stay in one zone, or go from one zone to another will be charged a local fare, where trips that travel over three zones will be charged an express fair. As Denver International Airport is a marquee location, trips to DIA will cost the same as a Level II fare on the SkyRide bus service to DIA.
9. How long will it take to get from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport?
It will take 35 minutes for passengers to get from the heart of Downtown Denver to Denver International Airport.
10. How frequently will trains run on the East Rail Line?
The commuter rail vehicles will maintain a headway of 15 minutes in both peak hours and off peak hours to facilitate efficient travel between Denver and Denver International airport.