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Project Background

As part of the voter-approved FasTracks program, the Northwest Rail Line Environmental Evaluation (EE) identified the best way to provide high-quality, reliable transit service to the area while improving travel times and enhancing access to jobs, recreation and entertainment. The environmental study is the final step towards constructing the project, when funding becomes available through the FasTracks plan, which was passed by voters in November 2004. The EE incorporated the analysis of the rail project from Denver to Boulder (which was developed in the first phase of the US 36 Environmental Impact Statement) and from Boulder to Longmont (which was developed in the Longmont Diagonal Rail Feasibility Study and Environmental Evaluation).

In 1998, RTD and CDOT began the US 36 Major Investment Study (MIS). The three-year process included extensive public involvement, including the formation of the Mayors and Commissioners Coalition (MCC) in 2000 - a group of elected representatives from the City of Boulder, Boulder County, City and County of Broomfield, Town of Superior, City of Louisville and City of Westminster dedicated to furthering the goal of achieving transportation funding for the US 36 Project.

The MIS resulted in the identification of a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), which called for a combination of transit and highway improvements to be implemented between Denver and Boulder.  In 2003, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began a comprehensive planning study of transit alternatives between Denver and Boulder. With the voter approval of RTD's FasTracks program in 2004, RTD was able to secure funding for both of the proposed projects that would link Denver, Boulder and Longmont via commuter rail.

In 2005, RTD also completed a study to determine the feasibility of potential commuter rail implementation in the Longmont Diagonal Corridor. The Longmont Diagonal Rail Feasibility Study area consisted of the BNSF Railway (BNSF) alignment from approximately 30th and Pearl Streets in Boulder to 119th Street and the SH 119 Extension, east of downtown Longmont. In late 2005, RTD began an Environmental Evaluation to further analyze the Longmont Diagonal Rail Study area.

In mid-2006, RTD combined the commuter rail portion of the two studies into one project - Northwest Rail - to be studied and implemented separately from the highway improvements planned for US 36. The Northwest Rail environmental study incorporated the analysis of the rail project from Denver to Boulder (which was developed in the first phase of the US 36 EIS) and from Boulder to Longmont (which was developed in the Longmont Rail Feasibility Study).

Public input was, and continues to be, important to the success of the Northwest Rail environmental study. We encourage you to use this site to learn about the project, and we welcome your comments and feedback.



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