Email Blast Archive
The following email updates were distributed to the Gold Line stakeholder database during the Environmental Impact Statement phase of the project.
Update from November 2, 2009
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.
Update from October 12, 2009
RTD Approaching Final Approval of Gold Line
The Gold Line Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) comment period has ended, and RTD is now in the process of responding to all the comments received on the document and preparing the Record of Decision (ROD) for submittal to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
More than 40 individuals and entities submitted comments on the FEIS, which contains the comprehensive analysis and proposed mitigation measures for the Gold Line commuter rail project. The 30-day public comment period was held from August 21 through September 21, 2009, and included public hearings in Denver and Arvada that were attended by nearly 100 community members. If you were unable to attend the public hearings, you can still download all the meeting materials on our website.
The FTA is expected to render a final decision on the project through the ROD in late October or November. This approval will allow RTD to proceed with final design and construction of the Gold Line. All FEIS comments and their corresponding responses will be published with the ROD.
In the meantime, RTD released the Request for Proposals for the Eagle P3 Project -- the public-private partnership venture that will complete several FasTracks projects through one collective contract. The Gold Line is part of the $2.3 billion Eagle P3 Project, which will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gold Line, the East Corridor (planned to run from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport), a short segment of the Northwest Rail Corridor to Westminster and the commuter rail maintenance facility.
Proposals from the three bidding teams are due in spring 2010. RTD expects to award the Eagle P3 contract in June 2010. The Gold Line is still on schedule to be completed by 2016.
Update from August 21, 2009
Gold Line Final Environmental Impact Statement Released
More information is available on the FEIS section of our website.
Update from June 25, 2009
Modified CRMF Design Avoids Owens Corning Impact
We want to provide an update on the progress being made on the FasTracks Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF). The design of the proposed facility has been modified to address concerns raised over the past few months.
Why is a CRMF needed?
RTD needs a new facility to clean, maintain and repair the commuter rail vehicles that will serve the Gold Line and the three other FasTracks commuter rail corridors.
What have the comments been regarding the CRMF proposed Fox North Site?
A Supplemental Environmental Assessment of the proposed CRMF Fox North site -- located at 48th Avenue and Fox Street, just northwest of I-25 and I-70 -- was prepared and comments were gathered in April and May.
In general, comments about the proposed CRMF have either supported the recommended Fox North site for the maintenance facility or raised concerns about the potential economic and employment impacts that could result if existing property owners on the site decided to close their operations rather than accepting the relocation benefits offered to them.
What are the potential property impacts of the CRMF proposed Fox North Site as originally designed?
RTD needs to purchase three of the properties comprising the Fox North site for the shared Gold Line/Northwest Rail alignment. A small portion of the fourth property, an Owens Corning shingle manufacturing plant, is also needed for the shared alignment. However, RTD would need to purchase the full property to accommodate the original design of the CRMF at the Fox North site.
What are the potential property impacts of the CRMF proposed Fox North Site with the new design?
RTD has developed a modified design for the Fox North site that does not require purchasing the full Owens Corning property while maintaining RTD's ability to meet the operational requirements of the maintenance facility.
The modified design completely avoids Owens Corning's manufacturing and administration buildings and only requires RTD to purchase a small amount of additional land, currently used for storage and parking, on the southwest corner of their property. RTD presented the modified design to Owens Corning and is committed to working with them as the modified design is enhanced to ensure that their parking, storage and operational needs can be accommodated.
What did RTD have to do to avoid major impacts to Owens Corning?
To create the modified design, RTD adjusted some standard operating practices. One practice is assuming underground storm-water detention rather than surface ponds. A second practice is designing the facility to be capable of storing the opening day fleet (78 vehicles) on site rather than the 2030 fleet (96 vehicles). The new design is capable of storing more than the opening day fleet but not the entire 2030 fleet.
When the fleet expands beyond the opening day size, up to 18 CRMF vehicles (no more than six per corridor) would be stored at the ends-of-line of the CRMF corridors during the few hours the system is not in operation - a practice that is common to avoid running non-revenue producing trains to corridor ends-of-line each morning to
start service. All of the modifications, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each, are summarized in the modified Fox North site map.
The modified CRMF design will be included in the Gold Line and East Corridor Final Environmental Impact Statements. Both are expected to be published and available for public comment in August or September.
Update from April 15, 2009
Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility Supplemental EA Now Available
The RTD FasTracks Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF) Supplemental Environmental Assessment (Supplemental EA) is now available for public review and comment. As part of the FasTracks program, RTD needs to build a maintenance facility to repair, maintain, clean, fuel and store the vehicles that will serve the four FasTracks commuter rail corridors: Gold Line, East Corridor, Northwest Rail and North Metro.
The Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF) Supplemental Environmental Assessment (Supplemental EA) analyzes the potential environmental impacts of implementing and operating the CRMF facility at the Fox North site -- located at 48th Avenue and Fox Street, just northwest of I-25 and I-70 -- and recommends methods to avoid or minimize identified impacts, where possible, or mitigate for them when avoidance is not possible. The Supplemental EA also evaluates the shared commuter rail tracks from Denver Union Station to Pecos Street.
Our website contains all the information and resources you need to:
The CRMF Supplemental EA was made available to the public on April 15, 2009. The release of the document begins a 30-day public comment period that concludes on May 15, 2009. The comment period includes a public meeting to present the Supplemental EA and gather public comment on the document.
Details for the meeting are as follows:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
6 - 8 p.m.
Stapleton Recreation Center
5090 Broadway, Denver
The meeting will include:
Update from March 20, 2009
Maintenance Facility Supplemental EA Public Meeting to be Held on April 23
Earlier this month, we informed you that an environmental study of the RTD FasTracks Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF) was underway and that the Gold Line Final Environmental Impact Statement will include analysis and recommendations about the CRMF. The CRMF project continues to make progress and in early April 2009, the CRMF Supplemental Environmental Assessment (Supplemental EA) will be released for public review and comment.
The Supplemental EA will include a 30-day public comment period. During that time, RTD will hold a public meeting to present the Supplemental EA and gather public comment on the document. Meeting details are as follows:
Stapleton Recreation Center
Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009
5090 Broadway, Denver
The Supplemental EA analyzes the potential environmental impacts of implementing and operating the CRMF facility at the Fox North site -- located at 48th Avenue and Fox Street, just northwest of I-25 and I-70 -- and recommends methods to avoid or minimize identified impacts, where possible, or mitigate for them when avoidance is not possible. The Supplemental EA also evaluates the shared commuter rail tracks from Denver Union Station to Pecos Street.
Once released, the Supplemental EA will be available on the CRMF, Gold Line and East Corridor Web sites and at all libraries in the study area. A full list of locations where the document can be reviewed will also be published on all three project web sites.
In addition to the public meeting, comments on the Supplemental EA will be accepted via the following methods:
We hope to see you at the upcoming public meeting!
Update from March 4, 2009
Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility Update
We want to make you aware of the progress being made on the RTD Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF) that will serve trains from the Gold Line and other FasTracks commuter rail corridors.
RTD recently selected the Fox North site -- located at 48th Avenue and Fox Street, just northwest of I-25 and I-70 -- as the preferred location for the maintenance facility. We want to clarify how the project fits in with the environmental processes for the four FasTracks commuter rail corridors (East Corridor, Gold Line, North Metro and Northwest Rail). To view a map of the Fox North site and corresponding commuter rail corridors, please click here (NOTE: The original Fox North Site design was modified in June 2009. Click here to view the modified Fox North design).
As a supplement to the environmental studies for the FasTracks commuter rail lines, the Federal Transit Administration has directed RTD to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the commuter rail corridors that analyzes the CRMF at the Fox North site and the tracks from Denver Union Station to Pecos Street.
The CRMF Supplemental Environmental Assessment will include a full environmental analysis of the CRMF and the tracks from Denver Union Station to Pecos Street. The document will identify the impacts attributed to the facility, the tracks that lead to/from it and the operations of the facility. It will also identify measures to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate the impacts.
The CRMF Supplemental Environmental Assessment will be published this spring for public review. There will be a 30-day comment period -- including a public meeting where verbal comments can be submitted -- for the document.
Following the public comment period, the information in the CRMF Supplemental Environmental Assessment will be integrated into the FasTracks commuter rail environmental approval documents. All CRMF Supplemental Environmental Assessment comments -- and responses to them -- will be included in the East Corridor and Gold Line Final Environmental Impact Statements that will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration for approval later this year.
The Federal Transit Administration will ultimately approve the CRMF at the Fox North site when it issues a Record of Decision for either the Gold Line or East Corridor, whichever comes first. Both Records of Decision are anticipated this fall.
The CRMF project team is now conducting the environmental analysis of the Fox North site. This analysis will include traffic, noise, air quality and other resource areas. An announcement will be made as soon as the team has specific dates for release of the Supplemental Environmental Assessment and for the public meeting. For more information on the CRMF project, click here.
Update from February 9, 2009
Gold Line Final EIS to be Published This Summer
RTD is hard at work completing the Gold Line Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Scheduled for publication this summer, the final document will include more detailed engineering of the proposed project and responses to all the comments that were submitted on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Where appropriate, the FEIS will also be updated to reflect any changes in impacts or mitigation measures since the DEIS was published last July.
Following the publication of the FEIS, there will be a 30-day public comment period that includes a public meeting. The final document will then be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for approval, which is issued through a Record of Decision (ROD). RTD plans to receive the final decision document from the FTA this fall. Construction on the Gold Line is anticipated to begin by 2011, with the
line opening to the public in 2015.
Update from October 15, 2008
Preliminary Design Determined for Gold Line Stations
After convening Issue-Focused Teams throughout the fall, RTD has identified preliminary design themes for each of the Gold Line's stations. More than 75 citizens volunteered to serve on teams for one or more of the Gold Line's seven stations, which are proposed to be located at 41st Avenue, Pecos, Federal, Sheridan, Olde Town Arvada, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road. The citizen participants worked side-by-side with city/county staffs and the Gold Line team to discuss station access
plans for pedestrian, bus and vehicular traffic, as well as conceptual design concepts.
RTD has developed four different design templates for its commuter rail stations. These templates will provide thematic guidance for the final station designs. The four design templates are:
historic. You can view examples of what the various themes could look like by clicking here.
Pecos Station Update
Over the past few months, RTD has continued to evaluate and refine the Pecos station. RTD still anticipates moving forward with the preferred option that was identified in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is located on the east side of Pecos. The main benefit of this location is that patrons could access both Gold Line trains and Northwest Rail trains at the station on opening day. But in order to construct the Pecos station at this site, it is necessary for Adams County to complete construction of a bridge (known as the Pecos Grade Separation project) that elevates Pecos Street over the existing train tracks. This project is currently scheduled to be completed in time for the Gold Line.
In case the grade separation project is not funded or complete by the time the Gold Line project is constructed, RTD has prepared a fallback design option (known as Option A) for the Pecos station. This option would only be pursued if there were an unforeseen delay in Adams County's construction of the new Pecos bridge. The option is also located on the east side of Pecos and is nearly identical to the preferred option; the only difference is the configuration of the road that will access the park-n-Ride. Due to complex track configurations, Option A would not be capable of serving the Northwest Rail line at opening day, but it could be reconfigured to do so at a later date after the Pecos bridge is completed.
The station option located to the west of Pecos Street has been eliminated from consideration, since it would not allow for a future reconfiguration to serve Northwest Rail.
Update from September 22, 2008
Gold Line Team Begins Preparing Final EIS
Now that the public comment period for the Gold Line Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has come to a close, the project team is focusing on reviewing and responding to all comments received and preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
More than 80 individuals or organizations submitted comments on the Gold Line DEIS, which contains the comprehensive environmental analysis and proposed mitigation measures for the FasTracks rail line through northwest Denver, Arvada and Wheat Ridge. The Final Environmental Impact Statement will include responses to all DEIS comments, final recommendations on all aspects of the proposed project and more detailed engineering.
You can continue to access the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on our website. The Final Environmental Impact Statement will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration for review and approval early next year. Construction on the Gold Line is anticipated to begin by 2011, with the line opening to the public by 2016.
Station Issue-Focused Teams Convening This Fall
In the next month, the project team will host Issue Focused Team workshops on access and design options for the Gold Line's seven proposed stations: 38th, Pecos, Federal, Sheridan, Olde Town, Arvada Ridge and Ward. If you would like to join an Issue Focused Team to work on station access and design options, you can sign-up online. Please specify which station interests you.
Web Update from July 18, 2008
Gold Line DEIS Now Available Online
After two years of screening, analysis, and public and agency participation, the RTD Gold Line Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is now available for public review. Public hearings were on August 6th and 7th to gather comments on the DEIS, which contains the comprehensive environmental analysis and proposed mitigation measures for the FasTracks rail line. The release of the DEIS marks one of the most significant milestones to date in making the Gold Line a reality. Please visit the new DEIS section of our website for more information on this important document.
Web Update from February 19, 2008
Potential Preferred Alternative Refinements Recommended
The RTD FasTracks Gold Line team today recommended the potential refinements to the Preferred Alternative to be evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
In addition to evaluating the Preferred Alternative -- electric commuter rail on the BNSF/Union Pacific Railroad alignment -- the Gold Line Team recommended evaluating in the DEIS a potential alignment immediately east of the railroad property from Pecos Street to Denver Union Station.
As part of RTD's system-wide negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad (UP), the railroad presented a package of properties that proved to be unaffordable. The package included portions of land included in the proposed Gold Line Preferred Alternative alignment.
Evaluating the potential refinements now will keep the Gold Line environmental study moving forward while RTD continues property-acquisition negotiations with the railroads.
The team has identified four potential refinements to the Gold Line between Denver Union Station and Pecos St. that would not require railroad right-of-way acquisition and would not affect railroad operations. After a preliminary evaluation of the four options, the team is recommending one option, on the east side of the railroad tracks, be evaluated in the DEIS.
The Gold Line team will gather public comment on its recommended refinement option and the three options it identified but does not recommend pursuing at public workshops scheduled for Tuesday, March 4 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada and Thursday March 6 at the Highlands Masonic Center, 3550 Federal Blvd., Denver. Both meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m.
The Gold Line team will evaluate the refinement option in the DEIS using the same criteria that led to the selection of the Preferred Alternative last summer. Among the categories to be analyzed will be potential property acquisitions, cost, engineering, community and environmental effects.
All stations identified in the Gold Line Preferred Alternative will be included in the refinement option. The refinement option may allow for the evaluation of additional park-n-Ride options at the proposed 38th Avenue Station. The park-n-Ride options identified in the Preferred Alternative for all other stations remain the same.
Following the public workshops, the Gold Line team will form Issue Focused Teams to partner with them on specific issues in the refinement process. Information on these Issue Focused Teams and instructions on how to register will be shared once the number of teams and issues to be addressed are determined.
The Gold Line EIS team is expecting to release the DEIS, including the potential refinements of the Preferred Alternative, this summer or fall and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to be completed in early 2009. Additional public meetings to discuss these and other project milestones will be scheduled as the Gold Line team continues its evaluation effort.
Web Update from March 7, 2008
March Public Workshop Materials Available Online
Below is a list of the materials from the Gold Line EIS public workshops on March 4 and 6. At the workshops, the Gold Line Team provided an update on refinements to the Gold Line Preferred Alternative.
Web Update from January 30, 2008
Gold Line Public Workshops to be Held March 4 and 6 to Discuss Potential Preferred Alternative Refinements
In addition to providing you with an update on the progress being made in the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement, we would like to share details of our next public workshops, which will occur on March 4th and 6th.
As you are likely aware, the Gold Line Preferred Alternative is to run electric commuter rail trains (EMU) from Denver Union Station to Ward Road in Wheat Ridge in the BNSF/Union Pacific railroad right of way. Portions of the Gold Line Preferred Alternative are located in both Union Pacific Railroad (UP) property and BNSF Railroad property. RTD has been negotiating with both railroads about the properties needed for the Gold Line and other FasTracks corridors.
As part of RTD's system-wide FasTracks negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad, the UP recently presented RTD with a package of properties, including portions of the Gold Line alignment, that were unaffordable. RTD is still negotiating with the UP and anticipates reaching an agreement to purchase several UP properties for FasTracks -- including portions of the Gold Line Preferred Alternative- in the upcoming months.
However, to keep the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement progressing and the line on schedule to open by 2016, we have decided to include an evaluation in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of potential refinements to portions of the Preferred Alternative where the UP has indicated the greatest interest in how the Gold Line Preferred Alternative would relate to their current or future operations. Those include areas coming out of Denver Union Station and the rail yards between 38th Avenue and Pecos.
We are now working to identify potential refinements paralleling the UP alignment that appear to be most feasible and least impactful. We will determine the viable refinements in February and then present them to the public and gather input at the following public workshops:
As we have done throughout the Environmental Impact Statement process, local government, public and agency input will be considered at key milestones in our analysis of these refinements.
We look forward to seeing you at our March public workshops and continuing to partner with you as we further our analysis and design of the Gold Line.
Web Update from January 9, 2008
New Stations Webpage Contains Updated Maps and Information
In response to an increased interest in Gold Line station locations, the project team has added a new Stations section to the website. The webpage contains updated maps and information for the seven proposed Gold Line stations. To access the new section, please click here.
The proposed stations for the Gold Line include 38th, Pecos, Federal, Sheridan, Olde Town, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road. RTD is responsible for planning the "footprint" of the station (e.g. where the platform, parking, bus drop-off and kiss-n-Ride will be located), while the local jurisdictions conduct the planning for the area surrounding each station.
The Gold Line Team has coordinated closely with the local governments and the communities to develop its current station plans. Issue Focused Teams were held in April 2007 and again in August 2007 to discuss preliminary station locations and gather public input.
The Gold Line Team will hold more in-depth work sessions for each individual station next spring. Known as "station design charettes," these small public workshops provide the public with an opportunity to provide input into the more detailed decisions on station design. Information on these workshops will be publicized in early 2008.
Web Update from October 5, 2007
Gold Line Public Workshops - October 23 and 24
Please plan to join us at one of the upcoming public workshops for the RTD FasTracks Gold Line project:
Tuesday, October 23, 2007Both meetings will begin promptly at 6 p.m. with a general presentation. The remaining time will be reserved for one-on-one interaction with members of the project team at information stations.
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Highlands Masonic Center
3550 Federal Blvd.
At the workshops, you can review updates on the design and engineering of the Gold Line Preferred Alternative (electric commuter rail on the BNSF/Union Pacific Railroad alignment). The meetings will also provide a presentation of the preliminary results of the impact analysis conducted on the Gold Line. Once completed, these findings will be presented in the Draft Environmental Statement, scheduled for release
early next year.
We look forward to seeing you at the workshops!
Web Update from July 25, 2007
Electric Commuter Rail on the Railroad Alignment Selected as Preferred Alternative
The RTD FasTracks Gold Line team announced today that the RTD Board has accepted the project team's recommendation to select electric commuter rail on the BNSF/Union Pacific Railroad alignment as the preferred alternative for the Gold Line. Over the past month, input gathered from local governments, regulatory agencies and the community showed overwhelming support for the team's recommendation.
The RTD Board also accepted the Gold Line Team's recommendation to eliminate the streetcar alternative, which was proposed to run on arterial streets including 38th Avenue, Harlan and Ridge Road, from consideration for the Gold Line.
Over the past two months, the RTD Board was considering asking the Gold Line and East Corridor Teams to evaluate both electric and diesel powered commuter rail in their Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). By accepting the Gold Line Team's recommendation, the RTD Board has determined that electric commuter rail will be the only type of train technology evaluated in the Gold Line EIS.
The Gold Line Team will now begin the more detailed engineering and environmental analysis needed to get federal approval for the project. Another round of public meetings will be held in the fall to discuss the preliminary findings from the team's more detailed evaluations of the alternative. The analysis will be summarized in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is expected to be published by early 2008.
For more information, or to submit a comment on the Gold Line EIS, please visit our website at www.rtdgoldline.com.
Web Update from June 25, 2007
Gold Line Preferred Alternative Update and Public Workshop Reminder
After consideration of the feedback we have received, the Gold Line Team's recommendation for a Preferred Alternative is Commuter Rail on the BN/UP (railroad) alignment using Electric Multiple Unit (a.k.a EMU or electric commuter rail) to connect Denver Union Station to Ward Road with 7 stations.
The RTD Board will make two important decisions related to this recommendation in July.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
6 p.m.-8 p.m.
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Highlands Masonic Center
3550 Federal Blvd.
If you are unable to attend one of the workshops or would like to submit comments before/after the workshops, you can do so by clicking here.
Thank you for your continued involvement in the Gold Line EIS. We look forward to discussing the Preferred Alternative recommendations with you at the public workshops this week.
Web Update from June 14, 2007
Gold Line Recommends Electric Commuter Rail as Preferred Alternative
Public Review & Comment Will Be Accepted at June 26 & 27 Meetings
The RTD FasTracks Gold Line team is recommending the selection of commuter rail transit operating in the current BNSF/Union Pacific railroad alignment as the Preferred Alternative for the FasTracks corridor between Denver Union Station and Ward Road. The team is also recommending the elimination of a streetcar option that is proposed to run on local streets including 38th Avenue, Harlan Street and Ralston Road.
The selection of commuter rail over streetcar will provide an alternative to the community that is nearly two times faster, will likely carry 50 percent more riders and could allow RTD to leverage federal dollars necessary to complete the project.
Additionally, analysis of public comments submitted to the project shows that about 60 percent of Gold Line stakeholders that commented on the project prefer commuter rail over streetcar.
The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the Regional Transportation District (RTD) findings during two public meetings: Tuesday, June 26 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada; and Wednesday, June 27 at the Highlands Masonic Center, 3550 Federal Blvd., Denver. Both meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m.
"Our studies show that commuter rail in the railroad alignment provides the best transportation results, performs well with environmental measures and it is broadly supported by the community," said Liz Telford, project manager for the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement. "Now, it is vital that we hear from the public as we continue to work with local and federal agencies to bring this recommendation to the RTD Board."
If accepted by the RTD Board, the estimated $553 million (2015, year of expenditure) commuter rail alternative will be further refined and studied as the Gold Line Team prepares an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), scheduled for release in the spring or summer of 2008. The Gold Line Team will continue to seek community input throughout the process.
The commuter rail alternative would include seven stations to be located near 38th/44th Avenue; Pecos Street; Federal Boulevard; Sheridan Boulevard; Olde Town (Arvada); Ridge Road and Ward Road. At the request of the RTD Board, the Gold Line team will further compare diesel and electric commuter rail technologies until the Board makes a decision about whether the RTD system should operate one or two types of commuter rail trains.
The Gold Line team found numerous benefits associated with commuter rail when compared to the streetcar alternative. From a transportation and mobility perspective, travel time for the commuter rail is nearly twice as fast as the streetcar and approximately 50 percent more transit users are projected to use the commuter rail line than the streetcar. From a financial perspective, it appears that the commuter rail alternative may qualify for obtaining federal funding, while the streetcar alternative definitely would not. This is important to the Gold Line as FasTracks planned for half of the $553 million Gold Line budget to be paid for with federal funds. The commuter rail alternative also has fewer environmental impacts, avoids in-street construction and has less impact on vehicle traffic.
The Gold Line is one of two FasTracks corridors the RTD Board is considering for a Federal Transit Administration public-private partnership pilot program. This unique project-funding and delivery option would likely not be available with the streetcar alternative.
The Gold Line team will review public comments received and will present the Locally Preferred Alternative to the RTD Board of Directors on July 10. Public input can be submitted during the meetings, in writing or at www.rtdgoldline.com.
Web Update from June 8, 2007
Public Workshops Scheduled to Select a Preferred Alternative
The Gold Line team will host two public workshop meetings to discuss the team's recommended Preferred Alternative:
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
6 p.m.-8 p.m.
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Highlands Masonic Center
3550 Federal Blvd.
At the upcoming public meetings, the team will summarize how it refined the Gold Line project alternatives in an effort to optimize their performance and minimize their impacts. The team will also provide an overview of how their analysis led to the recommendation. Public comments can be submitted at these workshops, online at www.rtdgoldline.com, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (303) 299-2000. The team's recommendation and a summary of comments submitted by the public, local governments and regulatory agencies will be considered by the RTD Board on July 10.
If the recommendation is accepted by the RTD Board and the Federal Transit Administration, the Gold Line Team will begin the more detailed engineering and environmental analysis needed to get federal approval for the project. The public will remain actively involved throughout the process. The analysis will be summarized in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is expected to be published in spring/summer 2008.
Web Update from May 29, 2007
FasTracks Annual Program Evaluation Update
You have likely seen a significant amount of recent media coverage about the FasTracks Annual Program Evaluation. The results of the evaluation were presented to the RTD Board at its annual retreat on May 19, 2007.
The five-month program evaluation took an in-depth look at costs, revenues, financing options and delivery methods for the entire FasTracks system and each individual FasTracks project. We would like to draw your attention to two elements related to the evaluation that have a direct relationship to the Gold Line.
Commuter Rail Technology
The RTD Board is analyzing the cost impacts/potential savings of using a single commuter rail vehicle technology (either diesel or electric powered) for all FasTracks commuter rail corridors or using multiple types of vehicles on the commuter rail corridors. The Gold Line Team is currently only evaluating electric commuter rail and streetcar for the Gold Line. The team eliminated diesel commuter rail from its evaluations late last year based on overwhelming support from the public for the electric commuter rail technology and because of the relative operational and cost
similarities of electric commuter rail to light rail, which was the technology originally proposed in FasTracks.
Public Private Partnerships
The RTD Board is examining a number of financial strategies to address FasTracks' cost challenges. One strategy being analyzed is utilizing public private partnerships to deliver certain FasTracks corridors. The Gold Line is one of the corridors being considered for this type of financing. This would allow the agency to partner with the private sector to complete the Gold Line and not charge taxpayers anything more.
The RTD Board is expected to provide policy direction on these and other issues as early as their June 19 board meeting. You can learn more about these issues and provide input to the RTD Board via multiple channels:
Citizens Provide Input on Station Platforms and Parking
Throughout the month of April, citizens from throughout the Gold Line corridor met
with members of the project team and local municipalities to provide input on the location of station platforms and parking facilities. During these Issue Focused Team work sessions, members of the public were presented with the various options for each of the stations for the RTD FasTracks Gold Line.
There are two remaining alternatives for the Gold Line: the EMU: BN/UP alternative, which proposes using electric commuter rail in the existing railroad right of way, and the Streetcar: Harlan alternative, which would use modern streetcar on arterial streets, including 38th Avenue and Harlan. The EMU alternative is proposed to have seven stations, while the streetcar alternative is proposed to have 13.
Following a kick-off meeting in early April for all participants, a total of six Issue
Focused Team work sessions were held. Teams were divided by geographic area, with three groups being convened for each of the two alternatives.
Gold Line Alternatives Continue to be Refined
Since the last round of public meetings in early February, the RTD FasTracks Gold Line project team has continued to refine the alternatives to improve their performance and, when possible, minimize their impacts.
In particular, many members of the public had asked that RTD evaluate possible ways to improve the travel time and ridership of the Streetcar: Harlan alternative to make it more competitive.
The project team has identified several ways to improve the streetcar alternative, including evaluations that would give streetcars an exclusive right of way on 38th Avenue during peak travel hours. (Previously, the Streetcar: Harlan alternative was proposed to operate "mixed flow" -- or in existing travel lanes -- for 80% of its route at
all times.) However, even with these refinements, projected ridership is still much lower than the electric commuter rail alternative.
The results of alternative refinements were presented to the Station Platform and Parking Issue Focused Teams in April. You can download the presentations containing the results of the alternative refinements by clicking here.
Web Update from March 9, 2007
Gold Line Alternatives Narrowed to Two
Light Rail Alternatives Removed from Further Consideration
The RTD FasTracks Gold Line project team announced today that, from the four alternatives just evaluated, it has removed two of the alternatives from further consideration for the Gold Line Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The two alternatives removed are the Light Rail Alternatives on 38th Ave. to Harlan and on 38th Ave. to Sheridan.
The two alternatives that remain include the electric trains on the railroad alignment and the modern streetcar on the 38th and Harlan alignment. These alternatives will undergo further refinement and evaluation in the next phase of analysis.
The Gold Line project team made the recommendation to take the light rail alternatives off the table in late January because they are over budget and would create greater impacts without providing much better service than other alternatives. The team received overwhelming support from the general public, local governments, and regional, state and federal regulatory agencies to continue evaluating the EMU: BN/UP alternative, which most closely resembles what was shown originally in FasTracks. There was a mix of support and opposition for continuing to evaluate the Streetcar: Harlan alternative, which would operate modern streetcar on arterial streets including 38th Avenue and Harlan Street.
The Gold Line team is now beginning to investigate ways to improve the performance and minimize the impacts of the electric commuter rail and streetcar alternatives. Then the team will conduct more detailed evaluations to select a Preferred Alternative for the Gold Line.
Legislation Introduced to Indemnify Railroads of Liability
On March 6, 2007, Senate Majority Leader Joan Fitz-Gerald and Representative Claire Levy introduced Senate Bill 07-219. The bill would allow RTD to indemnify the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads from liability for any incidents that occur in their rights-of-way.
This bill is important to the Gold Line because one of the Gold Line alternatives proposes using electrified commuter rail in an existing freight train right of way. To do so, RTD must secure agreements with both the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads. The BNSF is requiring transit providers nationwide - including RTD - to exempt them of liability in the event that an incident should occur in their right-of-way. As a special district established by the state legislature, RTD currently does not have legal authority to assume that type of liability. If this bill were to pass, RTD would be able to indemnify the railroads as BNSF has required, opening the door to further negotiations.
RTD is also working with the American Public Transportation Association and transit providers across the country to consider establishing a national insurance pool to lessen the burden on individual transit agencies.
Web Update from February 2, 2007
Gold Line Public Meetings to Take Place Next Week
As you are likely aware, the next round of Gold Line public meetings will take place next week on February 5th and 7th. All are welcome to attend this third round of public meetings for the Gold Line Environmental Impact Study (EIS). At the meetings, the Gold Line Team will share the results of their detailed evaluations and will inform the public of their recommendations on which alternatives should continue to be evaluated.
Details for the meetings are as follows:
Monday, February 5
Highlands Masonic Center
3550 Federal Blvd.
Wednesday, February 7
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Local Community Gets Involved Through Issue-Focused Teams
More than 100 community volunteers from the Gold Line corridor participated in neighborhood-specific Issue Focused Team meetings during the month of January. During these small work sessions, the team members partnered with project representatives to develop ideas on how to address challenges and maximize opportunities for the different alternatives. Six different groups were convened, each for a specific area of the Gold Line corridor, including 38th Avenue East, 38th Avenue West, Harlan/Sheridan, Southwest Adams County/East Arvada, Olde Town Arvada, and Ridge Road/Ward Road.
In the work sessions, team members had in-depth discussions about their specific area of the Gold Line. The teams offered recommendations to enhance the alternatives under consideration.
Gold Line Team Coordinates with Local Planning Efforts
As RTD conducts the Gold Line Environmental Impact Study (EIS), many local municipalities are busy conducting or preparing for their own station-area planning efforts.
Development plans for the areas surrounding proposed stations are separate from the Gold Line EIS, but many towns are integrating RTD's proposed alternatives into their own planning efforts. The RTD FasTracks team has been working with the local municipalities to provide input and guidance.
Transit-oriented developments (TODs) are pedestrian-friendly communities, often built around a mass transit station, that encourage residents and workers to use alternative means of transportation. The City of Wheat Ridge has been working with the non-profit Wheat Ridge 2020 to organize planning meetings for the proposed end-of-line station at Ward Road. Similarly, the City of Arvada held planning meetings last year and recently revealed its conceptual plans for land use around potential station areas in Arvada. Adams County is also working on development plans around the proposed Pecos station. Meanwhile, the City and County of Denver has decided to postpone its planning meetings for the proposed 38th Avenue and Inca station until summer of 2007 to allow time for a preferred alternative(s) to be selected for the Gold Line.
Even though station area planning is managed by the individual cities and not RTD, the Gold Line team will work together with the municipalities to integrate land use plans surrounding proposed stations.
The Related Links section of the website has links to the websites for local municipal station-area planning efforts.
Web Update from November 17, 2006
Neighborhood Working Groups Forming
RTD is recruiting individuals interested in volunteering for working groups that will help to identify and solve neighborhood-specific issues related to the alternatives still being evaluated for the Gold Line. This is part of the Gold Line's Issue Focused Team program that creates opportunities for small groups to partner with the project team to enhance the alternatives under consideration.
The work groups being formed are:
The first series of neighborhood work sessions will occur in early January. These meetings will include:
Where Did These Routes Come From?
Why RTD is Required to Evaluate Alternative Alignments
It's a question that the Gold Line team has often heard in the past few months: What's the point of looking at alternative alignments? Why not just stick with the original route presented in FasTracks that uses the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads right of way?
The law requires RTD to evaluate more than just one alternative. This is a mandatory requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement. While the BNSF/UP railroad route is still a viable option using electric commuter rail, RTD is required by federal regulations to "rigorously explore and objectively evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives" before any final decisions can be made.
In addition, RTD has a community responsibility to develop the best transit system that serves as many people as efficiently as possible. We heard from many people that the best transit system for the Gold Line study area may be on a different alignment.
When our project kicked of with the Scoping phase, alignment was the topic most commented upon by the public. 40% of the comments about alignments specifically asked RTD to evaluate alternate routes that would provide more direct access to the population centers and neighborhoods in the corridor like northwest Denver.
RTD must complete substantial evaluations for each alternative considered in detail so that the public can assess their comparative merits - allowing you to provide informed input throughout the EIS process. When an alternative is removed from consideration, RTD is also required to justify the reasons behind the elimination.
Our project team used field surveys and other data to evaluate every possible east/west and north/south street in the corridor to identify routes that had potential for operating rail transit. Roads with narrow rights of way or that would require significant property acquisitions were eliminated from consideration. The best candidates were then further refined, evaluated and shown to the public for feedback.
Public input is critical to making smart decisions for the Gold Line that are in the best interest of the community. We encourage you to continue to stay involved and let us know your feedback by submitting your comments.
What's Next for the Gold Line?
Now that the RTD Gold Line team has selected four alternatives to carry forward into detailed evaluation, the coming months will be spent refining those alternatives and conducting in-depth analysis on a number of different of criteria. The Gold Line team recently announced that the alternatives selected for detailed evaluation for the next phase of the Environmental Impact Statement are:
Some of the details that will be evaluated/identified during this phase include:
In the meantime, the public can continue submit their comments through the project website (www.rtdgoldline.com), via phone by calling 303-299-6000, or by mailing comments to RTD FasTracks Gold Line, c/o GBSM, 600 17th St. #2020-S, Denver, CO 80202.
Web Update from October 30, 2006
Gold Line Narrows Alternatives to Four Routes
Numerous Alternatives Eliminated from Further Consideration
After taking extensive comment from the community and conducting additional technical analysis, the RTD FasTracks Gold Line team has eliminated several alternatives from consideration, while modifying other alternatives in response to public input.
The remaining four alternatives will undergo a third, more detailed level of analysis of their benefits and impacts. The results of this detailed analysis will be presented at the next Gold Line public meetings in early 2007 prior to the selection of a Preferred Alternative.
The four alternatives that remain under consideration for the Gold Line are:
"We want to use the right rail technology in the right setting, so understanding the perspective of local communities is critical," said Liz Telford, project manager for the Gold Line.
As a result, electric commuter rail will be under consideration on railroad corridor routes, light rail on routes serving primarily commercial areas and streetcar on routes through both commercial and residential areas.
Since the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) began, our project team has evaluated more than 20 possible alternatives that vary in route, type of train and station location. Many alternatives were ruled out early on -- either because of impacts, technical unfeasibility, unworkable cost or lack of community support. Eight different Gold Line alternatives were selected to move into Level 2 analysis, and those alternatives were presented at public workshops in early October.
The remaining four alternatives will continue to be refined and undergo increasingly detailed analysis, until a preferred alternative(s) is selected in spring of 2007.
We continue to encourage the public to provide input into the decision making process. Comments can be submitted through the project Web site (www.rtdgoldline.com), by email (email@example.com), via phone by calling 303-299-6000, or by mail (RTD FasTracks Gold Line, c/o GBSM, 600 17th St. #2020-S, Denver, CO 80202).
Thank you for your continued involvement in the Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement.
Web Update from September 5, 2006
RTD Gold Line Update
Thank you for signing up to receive updates on the RTD FasTracks Gold Line Environmental Impact Statement. We hope you were able to make it to one of the scoping meetings on Aug. 22nd and 23rd, but even if we missed you, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved.
Gold Line Public Workshops Scheduled for Early October
The next round of public meetings for the Gold Line has been scheduled for Oct. 4th and 5th. These meetings will go into more detail on the potential alternatives for the Gold Line and will provide an excellent opportunity for you to give your comments on the project. Details for the meetings are as follows:
Wednesday, Oct 4th | 6-8:30 p.m.
Arvada Center at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada
Thursday, Oct. 5th | 6-8:30 p.m.
Highlands Masonic Center at 3550 Federal Blvd. in Denver
Scoping Period Closes at the End of September
It's not too late to submit scoping comments! The official end of the scoping period is September 25th. All comments received before then will be compiled in a scoping report that summarizes the feedback received from the public and finalizes the scope of the project. Specifically, the project team is looking for public comment on the following issues during scoping:
Comments can also be mailed to:
RTD FasTracks Gold Line Team
1560 Broadway #700
Denver, CO 80202
Sign Up for Issue Focused Teams
During the Gold Line EIS, teams of community members will be formed to work with technical staff to develop solutions to specific issues of interest. These Issue-Focused Teams will meet on an as-needed basis to generate ideas and solutions for specific topics as issues arise.
The Gold Line Team is currently recruiting community members for an Alternative Alignments Issue-Focused Team to explore other alignment options in the corridor. Future Issue-Focused Teams could include anything from individual station issues to noise and vibration.
If you would like to join an Issue-Focused Team, please send an email to Megan Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know what team would interest you. We also want to know what specific topics related to the Gold Line you think merit their own Issue-Focused Teams.
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