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This website contains updated information only for those corridors actively in construction, the Southeast Rail Extension and North Metro Rail. All other content on this website is meant for historical purposes only and may not be up-to-date. Please visit RTD-Denver.com for the latest information about RTD.

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December 2006 Newsletter







Gold Line Alternatives Coming Into Focus

The future of the RTD FasTracks Gold Line got a little clearer this fall when the alternatives under consideration were narrowed to four. The four alternatives are summarized on pages two and three of this newsletter.

One alternative, very similar to the recommendations of the FasTracks Plan, would operate electrified rail in the BNSF/Union Pacific railroad right of way.  The other three alternatives will evaluate using light rail or streetcar trains on the same streets as automobiles.




Changes to Alternatives

The Gold Line team is refining the four alternatives to minimize the impacts and maximize the benefits to mobility and to the community.  We are currently evaluating ways to integrate light rail within the existing right of way on city streets.  Several options will be provided for consideration during the next round of public meetings. 

One potential refinement will try to minimize traffic disruption on 38th
Avenue. While previous assumptions were that the in-street light rail alternatives would reduce 38th Avenue to one lane each direction, the team is now working with the City and County of Denver to determine ways to retain four traffic lanes.

The team is also now evaluating the potential to minimize property impacts west of Wadsworth Blvd. by having light rail continue west on Ralston Road/58th Avenue to Kipling, then south to Ridge Road. These options are being evaluated in addition to the Olde Wadsworth/Ridge Road light rail route and the streetcar routes that wind through the neighborhoods. 

Detailed Evaluation
The four remaining alternatives have already undergone two levels of screening.  They will undergo a third, more detailed technical evaluation between now and early 2007 with input from the community.

This third evaluation will provide more detailed answers to many questions including ridership, environmental consequences, ways to avoid property impacts, feasibility of the implementation of the alternatives, and more detailed cost estimates.  It will also provide the first glimpse at other key evaluation criteria such as parking demand at preliminary station locations.

Even after this next level of evaluation is completed, a number of details will remain unknown until we select a preferred alternative and conduct preliminary engineering of the preferred alternative -- and most likely another second alternative -- in late 2007. Preliminary engineering will help to identify and determine details like the location and amount of parking, precise station locations, and proposed mitigation measures for impacts.  Answers to a number of questions will gradually emerge throughout the planning and design process right up to the time of final design and
construction.

Get Involved in the Solution
RTD is looking for members of the public to volunteer for Issue Focused Team (IFT) work groups that will identify and address neighborhood specific issues and help develop solutions related to each of the Gold Line alternatives.  Volunteers will work alongside members of the project team and city/county staff to develop solutions to specific issues.  To volunteer for an Issue Focused Team, call (303) 299-2000 or
register online by  clicking here.


Four Alternatives Undergoing Detailed Evaluation



Alternative 3 - Electric Commuter Rail BN/UP

Electrified Rail operating in the BNSF/Union Pacific Railroad Corridor

Preliminary/Proposed Stations: 38th Avenue, Pecos, Federal, Sheridan, Olde Town, Arvada Ridge, Ward
Preliminary Cost: About $470 Million
Travel Time: 25 Minutes from Ward Road to Denver Union Station
Preliminary Ridership: 14,000 to 17,000 per day
Key Questions/Opportunities:
  • This alternative is most similar to the Locally Preferred Alternative
    recommended in the Major Investment Study and included in FasTracks Plan
  • Close to having an agreement to share railroad corridor with Union Pacific
    (from Denver Union Station to Sheridan). Still need agreement to share railroad corridor with BNSF (West of Sheridan)
  • Determining parking demands in early 2007.
  • Refining cost estimates in early 2007.
Alternative 6DD - Light Rail Sheridan/Ridge
Light Rail operating on streets, sharing lanes with vehicular traffic

Preliminary Stations: Kalamath, Federal, Sheridan/38th, Sheridan/I-76, Olde Town, Arvada Ridge, Ward
Preliminary Cost: About $490 Million
Travel Time: 27 Minutes from Ward Road to Denver Union Station
Preliminary Ridership: 13,000 to 16,000 per day
Key Questions/Opportunities:
  • Conducting further engineering on alignment along 38th Avenue to minimize impacts.
  • Conducting traffic analysis on 38th Avenue to determine impact. Refining engineering of Sheridan Boulevard alignment to determine/minimize impacts to properties and environment.
  • Evaluating potential for keeping alignment on 58th Avenue to Kipling to avoid impacts to Olde Town and property impacts that could be caused by accessing Ridge Road from Olde Wadsworth.
  • Determining parking demands in early 2007.
  • Refining cost estimates in early 2007.

Alternative 6G - Light Rail Harlan/Ralston

Light Rail operating on streets, sharing lanes with vehicular traffic

Preliminary Stations: Kalamath, Federal, Sheridan, 45th Ave., Olde Town, Arvada Ridge, Ward
Preliminary Cost: About $500 Million
Travel Time: 27 Minutes from Ward Road to Denver Union Station
Preliminary Ridership: 13,000 to 16,000 per day
Key Questions/Opportunities:
  • Conducting further engineering on alignment along 38th Avenue to minimize impacts.
  • Evaluating potential of operating one shared track instead of two exclusive tracks near 38th Avenue and Harlan Street to minimize impacts to properties
    and environment.
  • Evaluating potential for keeping alignment on 58th Avenue until Kipling to avoid impacts to Olde Town and property impacts that could be caused by accessing Ridge Road from Olde Wadsworth.
  • Determining parking demands in early 2007.
  • Refining cost estimates in early 2007.

Alternative 7BB - Streetcar Harlan/Ralston
Streetcar operating on streets, sharing lanes with vehicular traffic


Preliminary Stations:
Kalamath, Federal, Sheridan, 45th Ave., Olde Town, Arvada Ridge, Ward (additional stations being considered include Tejon, Clay, Lowell,
Tennyson, Harlan, 48th Ave., 54th Ave., Lamar, Carr, Independence, Parfet)
Preliminary Cost: About $300 Million (7 stations included in cost estimate)
Travel Time: 35 Minutes from Ward Road to Denver Union Station
Preliminary Ridership: 11,000 to 13,000 per day
Key Questions/Opportunities:
  • Because streetcars and vehicular traffic can share travel lanes, this alternative may require the fewest number of properties to be purchased but travel time is slowest.
  • Determining how adding additional stations influences benefits/impacts of this alternative.
  • Determining parking demands in early 2007.
  • Refining cost estimates in early 2007.

Modern Streetcar: It's Not Your Grandfather's Trolley


Mention streetcar and many people picture the old trolleys that used to roam the streets of north Denver. But the modern streetcars being considered for the Gold Line are a far cry from their slow-moving predecessors.

"Today's streetcar is faster than many think.  As a matter of fact, the modern
streetcar's maximum speed is only 10 mph less than a light rail vehicle," said Gold Line Project Manager Liz Telford. "It's a modern, electrified passenger train that is well suited for operation on city streets."

The streetcar is one of three technologies under consideration for the Gold Line, along with light rail and electrified commuter rail.  The streetcar alternative -- Alternative 7BB -- is summarized on the map above.

Modern streetcar trains are essentially streamlined versions of the light rail trains you see operating in Denver today.  Streetcars require less space to operate, and streetcar infrastructure (e.g. tracks, power poles, electric lines) can be constructed much faster, at a lower cost and with less disruption to the community.

"Streetcars normally share lanes of traffic with vehicles. This minimizes property impacts associated with operating trains in an exclusive right of way on streets," said Telford. "Light rail could also share lanes of traffic with vehicles, and we're evaluating how much slower it would run and how many property impacts could be avoided by doing so."

Streetcar has a lower seating capacity than its larger transit counterparts. The average streetcar vehicle generally seats about 60 people -- about 2/3 of the capacity of a light rail vehicle.

"We are currently conducting additional technical analysis to weigh the benefits of streetcar against its impacts," said Telford. "With the community's input, we will use our evaluations to select the technology that is best suited for the Gold Line."



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