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Fall 2009 - ROD Newsletter

Gold Line Approved
Federal Transit Administration Issues Record of Decision

After more than three years of in-depth alternatives screening, detailed impacts analysis and extensive community outreach, the RTD FasTracks Gold Line project has been approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The FTA's approval marks the end of the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. RTD is currently working with the FTA to obtain permission to begin final design and construction.

"We are thrilled to reach this milestone," said Liz Telford, RTD project manager for the Gold Line EIS. "This is great news for both RTD and the community, and it marks a very important step in making the Gold Line a reality."

The 11.2 mile long Gold Line is proposed to run along the BNSF/Union Pacific railroad route from Denver Union Station to Ward Road in Wheat Ridge, passing through northwest Denver, Adams County and Arvada along the way. The line has seven stations, located at 41st Avenue, Pecos, Federal, Sheridan, Olde Town, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road.

Since the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) comment period ended on September 21, RTD has been hard at work addressing comments and preparing the Record of Decision. Forty individuals and entities submitted comments on the FEIS, which was published in August. Responses to all FEIS comments are available on the Gold Line website (www.rtdgoldline.com).

The approval from the FTA means that the Gold Line can seek approval to move into final design and construction. RTD will work with a private-partner to complete the final design, construction operation and maintenance of the Gold Line. This private partner will also provide some of the financing for the $590.5 million project.

With the recent approval from the FTA, the Gold Line is still on schedule to open to the public in 2016.

A Note from Gold Line Project Manager Liz Telford

Dear Gold Line Stakeholder,

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your involvement in the RTD Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  I have been working on the Gold Line for more than a decade and have always been extremely impressed with the community's participation in and commitment to this project.

Public involvement has been a high priority throughout the EIS process. Since the EIS kicked off in August of 2006, we've hosted 18 large-scale public meetings, 23 smaller Issue Focused Team meetings and given presentations at nearly 60 neighborhood listening sessions. We have communicated with tens of thousands of people throughout the study area, and thousands of you have shown up at our meetings. That's an impressive level of involvement.

Additionally, I appreciate how this community has always been thoughtful and forthright in providing input on the Gold Line. We haven't always agreed on every issue, but through dialogue and discourse, we have ended up with a better project because of your input and ideas.

As we move into the next phase of the project, I will no longer be the day-to-day project manager for the Gold Line, but I will continue to stay involved until the project is complete. My colleague, Ashland Vaughn, who many of you have gotten to know throughout the EIS process will take the lead on the getting the Gold Line built. I am really looking forward to opening day!

Thank you again for your input, your involvement and your time. It has been a pleasure to work with you.

Liz Telford

Meet Ashland Vaughn: The Gold Line's New Project Manager

A familiar face will assume the day-to-day project management responsibilities for the Gold Line during the final design and construction phase. Ashland Vaughn, who has worked as a lead engineer throughout the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), will take over for Liz Telford as the new Gold Line Project Manager.

Having worked on the project since the beginning of the EIS, Vaughn is very familiar with the Gold Line.

"After being involved in this project for so many years, I am really looking forward to seeing the Gold Line through to completion," said Vaughn. "This is a great opportunity, and I'm very happy to take on this new role."

As RTD's final design and construction project manager for the Gold Line, Vaughn will oversee all aspects of design, right of way acquisition and construction. He will be working closely with the selected Eagle P3 contractor throughout this process.

Vaughn is a registered professional engineer with more than 20 years of experience. His key areas of expertise include construction engineering, project management and environmental remediation.

He has been with RTD for over 12 years and has worked on a diverse range of projects during that time. In addition to the Gold Line, he was involved on the West Corridor and the Central Platte Valley and Southwest Corridor light rail projects. He has also done work as a FasTracks Scheduling Engineer and as a Facilities Environmental Project Manager.

Prior to joining RTD, Vaughn worked for a private-sector firm that specialized in geotechnical and environmental engineering. While there, he managed numerous geotechnical assessments, remediation system designs and feasibility studies.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Duke University, and his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Public-Private Partnership Program Continues to Make Progress

Last month, RTD released the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Eagle P3 Project - the public-private partnership venture that will complete several FasTracks projects through one collective contract.

As planned, the RFP was delivered to three pre-qualified teams on September 30. In addition to the Gold Line, the $2.3 billion Eagle P3 Project will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the East Corridor from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport, a short segment of the Northwest Rail Corridor to Westminster and the Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility.

 "The Eagle P3 Project will serve as a model for public entities across the nation that are looking to partner with the private sector to build major public projects, especially at a time when cash flows are being severely impacted by the economy," said Phil Washington, RTD's Interim General Manager.

Under the public-private partnership agreement, RTD will retain 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. In return, RTD would make lease payments to the private partner, spreading out large upfront costs over a longer period of time, much like a mortgage does.

RTD's current FasTracks financing plan assumes that just under half of the $590.5 million cost of the Gold Line would be funded through the Eagle P3. Most of the other half is expected to be provided by Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding. A small portion of the budget would also come from local funding. The Eagle P3 and FTA funding sources are critical to the successful completion of the Gold Line.

Now that the Gold Line project has received the final approval from the FTA, RTD can move forward with the Eagle P3 program, as well as its efforts to qualify the Gold Line for federal funds.

A growing number of public entities are pursuing public-private partnerships to benefit from upfront private equity to help build major infrastructure projects. While public-private partnerships are more common internationally, RTD's Eagle P3 Project represents a unique model for a major transit project in the United States.

In 2008, RTD short-listed three teams to compete for the P3 contract: Denver Transit Partners, Mile High Transit and Mountain-Air Transit Partners. Each team is comprised of several corporations, including construction companies, engineering firms and financiers, among many others.  Proposals from the bidding teams are due in spring 2010, and the RTD board expects to select a final team in June 2010.

Q&A with Ashland

Q: When are you going to start purchasing properties for the Gold Line?
A: We have done everything we can to design the project in a manner that minimizes the amount of private property required to build the Gold Line. The current design requires RTD to purchase just 16 full properties, none of which are residential properties.  Small portions of some other properties will also need to be purchased. RTD will start notifying property owners in the coming months of the need to purchase their property and will start working with property owners to agree on terms of the purchase.

Q: When will we start seeing construction for the Gold Line?
A: The Eagle P3 contractor will be responsible for developing the construction schedule for the Gold Line. The contractor will be selected next summer. Sometime after that, we will have more detail on the exact timing of construction that will lead to a 2016 opening day for the Gold Line.

Q: What level of involvement will the public have during the final design and construction phase?
A: RTD and the Eagle P3 contractor will remain in close communication with the public throughout the final design and construction of the Gold Line. Different from the high-level of input seeking communication that happens during the EIS phase, communications with stakeholders during the design and construction phase will be more focused on providing information about construction details and impacts.

Sign-up for Construction Mitigation Issue Focused Teams

Prior to moving into final design and construction for the Gold Line, RTD is convening another round of Issue Focused Team meetings to discuss plans and options for mitigating construction impacts.  Issue Focused Teams are comprised of stakeholder volunteers, project team members and representatives of local municipalities.

E-mail to sign-up for one of the following Issue Focused Teams:

Federal to Olde Town
December 1, 2009 - 6 p.m.
Arvada Library, 7525 W 57th Ave, Arvada

Denver Union Station to Federal
December 2, 2009 - 6 p.m.
Quigg Newton Senior Center - 4430 Navajo St, Denver

Olde Town to Ward Road
December 3, 2009 - 6 p.m.
Wheat Ridge Rec Center, 4005 Kipling St, Wheat Ridge

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