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Spring 2008 Newsletter




Gold Line Design Option Selected

DEIS to be Released This Summer


With resounding support from the community, local governments and regulatory agencies, the RTD FasTracks Gold Line team has selected the East Direct design option -- located directly east of the railroad tracks -- to be included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). As a result of negotiations with the railroads earlier this year, the Gold Line team evaluated four alignment design options that avoid significant railroad property between Denver Union Station and Pecos Street, with the intent of selecting one option to be evaluated in the DEIS.

The DEIS will contain the comprehensive environmental analysis and proposed mitigation measures for the Gold Line Preferred Alternative. The Preferred Alternative proposes running electric commuter rail trains from Denver Union Station to Ward Road in Wheat Ridge and has a total of seven stations. Additionally, the Preferred Alternative will now include two options between Denver Union Station and Pecos Street: one in the railroad alignment, and a second immediately east of the railroad alignment. West of the Pecos station, the alignment is proposed to remain in the railroad right of way. 

The DEIS is expected to be released this summer. Final recommendations about the alignment and all other elements of the FasTracks line will be made in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), after the public has had a chance to comment on the DEIS.

Next Steps
After the release of the DEIS this summer, there will be a 45-day public comment period.  Following the 45-day comment period (which includes two public hearings) RTD will prepare the FEIS, scheduled for release in late 2008 or early 2009. In addition to responding to all DEIS comments, the FEIS will include any additional environmental analysis and more detailed engineering and design of the recommended project. The FEIS will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration for review and is expected to be approved by spring 2009. Construction on the Gold Line is anticipated to begin by 2012, with the line opening to the public by 2016. 


Preferred Station Locations Identified

In preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the Gold Line team has worked closely with the public and local governments to identify preferred locations for five of the Gold Line's seven stations.

Last year, the Gold Line team conducted several work sessions for each station to discuss parking and platform options and gather community input. As of last fall, the Gold Line team had identified preferred locations for the Sheridan, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road stations. With the support of Adams County and the City of Arvada, the project team recently identified preferred locations for the Olde Town and Federal stations.

The Olde Town north station option was selected because it provides close access to the station platform, has strong community support and provides ample opportunity for future parking expansion. This option proposes a parking lot located directly south of the railroad tracks, east of Vance Street, to the north of the existing park-n-Ride. The Federal east option was selected because, while both Federal station options had similar benefits and impacts, Adams County indicated that the east option better supports their future plans. This option locates the station platform just east of Federal Boulevard with parking directly north of the platform.

The project team will evaluate two Pecos station options and three 38th Avenue station options in the DEIS. Preferred locations for both stations will be identified prior to the Final Environmental Impact Statement. You can find additional information and maps for all of the station options by visiting our Gold Line Stations webpage.




Ask Liz: Q&A with the Gold Line Project Manager

Q: What is the status of RTD's negotiations with the railroads?

A: RTD is still negotiating with both the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads. RTD representatives are meeting regularly with representatives from both railroads. The negotiations with both railroads are making progress and proving to be constructive and positive. We anticipate reaching agreements with both railroads by the end of the year to purchase several properties for multiple FasTracks corridors -- including portions of the Gold Line.

Q: How will the Preferred Alternative Refinements affect the Gold Line's schedule?

A: These refinements are not expected to affect our long-term schedule. Construction on the Gold Line is still anticipated to begin by 2012 with the line opening to the public by 2016. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be released this summer. Following a 45-day comment period, RTD will begin working on the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is scheduled for release by late 2008 or early 2009. The final document will then be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration for review and is expected to be approved by spring 2009. This will clear the way for RTD to begin the final design and construction on the line. 


Station Design Workshops to Begin This Summer


This summer, members of the public will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and help the Gold Line team select themes and develop preliminary designs for the project's seven stations. Station design workshops will be held for each individual station during August and September. All are welcome to participate in these meetings.

Throughout last year, the Gold Line team conducted several work sessions for each station to gather the community's input on the location and footprint of station parking and platforms. Station layouts have been determined for five of the seven stations. The Gold Line team will select locations for the two remaining stations - Pecos and 38th - after gathering input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). These decisions will be made prior to the design workshops.

"These workshops will help us make sure each station reflects the unique character of its surrounding neighborhood while also remaining part of a cohesive transit line," said Gold Line Project Manager Liz Telford.  "We're excited to continue our partnership with the public to make each Gold Line station a part of the fabric of its local community."

RTD is developing a set of station themes comprised of various standard and customizable elements that reflect each theme. This thematic design approach will help Gold Line stations be representative of the surrounding area, be it more urban, industrial, residential or historic.

During the workshops, the project team will present initial concepts for the theme and design of each station and overview elements of the station design that can be customized. Some items -- such as ticket vending machines and station identification signs -- will remain consistent across all FasTracks corridors. But there are elements that can be unique to each corridor or station. Depending on the station layout and theme, elements such as landscaping, pavement, fencing, shelters and canopies may have multiple options available. Input at these workshops will help identify the community's preferences for these types of design elements.
 
This is just the first step in the station design process. RTD will use the input gathered at the station design workshops to determine preliminary design plans. These plans will then be further refined during the final design process that follows the EIS, and designs are likely to evolve until the construction phase.

If you are interested in participating in a station design workshop, click here to sign up. RTD will notify you of specific dates and locations once the meetings have been scheduled. 


Thousands of Community Members Engage in the Gold Line

The Gold Line team recently surpassed a significant milestone in their public involvement efforts. As of early April 2008, more than 2,500 members of the public have attended meetings or presentations about the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and more than 1,400 comments have been received on the project.

Public comments have played a significant role throughout the EIS process, which kicked off in August 2006. They were a crucial part of shaping RTD's evaluation criteria, the alternatives considered and helping the project team make decisions about the Gold Line.

While hundreds of community members attended Gold Line public workshops, a significant number engaged in the project through smaller, more personal meetings, such as community listening sessions. The project team has held 30 listening sessions with civic clubs, community organizations and other groups of interested citizens, such as the Arvada Jefferson Kiwanis, Wheat Ridge 2020, Sunnyside United Neighbors Inc. and the West Highland Neighborhood Association. The Gold Line team has also used more informal methods to reach out to stakeholders, such as attending community festivals and events.

An even greater number of people have engaged in the project virtually by going to the Gold Line website. Over 37,000 visitors have visited www.rtdgoldline.com, and more than two-thirds of the comments received were submitted through the website or via email.

Additionally, more than 400 members of the public have taken their involvement to a deeper level by volunteering to participate in our Issue Focused Teams. During these small group work sessions, the project team partners with members of the public to develop ideas and solutions related to specific topics, such as station layouts, alternative alignments and community impacts.
 
Leading up to and following this summer's release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the Gold Line team will intensify its public outreach effort to share information about the DEIS and encourage stakeholders to comment on it. Because the release of the DEIS will be the Gold Line's most significant milestone to date, we hope that you will continue to stay involved and let us know your input.

Gold Line Outreach By the Numbers
Total Meeting Attendees
 2,627
Public Workshops Hosted  12
Listening Session Presentations30
Comments Received 1,416
Newsletters Distributed
23,000+
Web Site Visitors37,400
Email Updates Sent
29,067
Note: Data accurate as of April 2008


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