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Getting the Southeast and Southwest rail lines built


By RTD Director Kent Bagley, District H

If you live in the southeast and southwest suburbs of Denver, you may be curious to know about plans to extend light rail lines into the growing Lone Tree community and into Highlands Ranch, respectively.
 
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is moving ahead on both fronts to meet travel demands from our growing population and employment centers, as well as to improve connectivity for the region. Here's an update on what's happening.

The Southeast Rail Extension

Last July, the RTD Board authorized $207 million to extend the existing light rail line farther south into Lone Tree.

RTD Director Kent Bagley, District H
Director Kent Bagley, District H
Additionally, local business associations and businesses in the southeast metro Denver area have committed $25 million in cash and $15 million in right-of-way, permits and other in-kind contributions to get the extension project completed. This local funding match comprises 16.5 percent of the project cost and far exceeds the 2.5 percent match RTD has asked of its local partners. Of the project's total $207 million cost, RTD's investment will be $66 million or about 32 percent.

President Obama's FY 2016 budget includes $92 million for the Southeast Rail Extension. This is one of the projects recommended for future Federal Transit Administration New Starts grants. While the budget must be confirmed by Congress, we continue to move forward.
 
Four teams have been selected to bid on this project. Their proposals will be due to RTD in May. After a finalist is selected and the RTD Board awards a contract, the contractor will begin design later this year with construction expected to begin in 2016.

When the extension is completed in 2019, residents will be able to travel from the RidgeGate station on the new R Line through Aurora to Peoria Station and connect to the commuter train to Denver International Airport; or travel to Union Station in downtown Denver.

The Southwest Rail Extension

This project will add 2.5 miles of light rail service from Mineral Avenue in Littleton to C-470 and Lucent Boulevard, with an additional 1,000-space Park-n-Ride Facility at a new end-of-line Lucent Station.

RTD has invested $25 million into this project which includes property acquisition at Lucent Station, planning and engineering for the station and purchase of light rail vehicles. We continue to refine design and later this year, cost estimates will be updated and engineering advanced to ensure the project is ready when funding is identified. Plus RTD will build out the access road near Lucent Station. However, more work and financial commitment is needed.
 
To that end, I have organized briefings with staff and elected officials from Douglas County and Littleton and most importantly, the entities within Highlands Ranch including Highlands Ranch Metro District and Highlands Ranch Community Association, as well as other organizations. In addition, I have worked with RTD General Manager Phil Washington and RTD staff to seek innovative solutions and strategies to help us find alternative financing. Believe me, we are committed to get this extension built sooner rather than later, and everyone at RTD is working hard to make this happen.


Kent Bagley was elected to the RTD Board of Directors in November 2008 for a four-year term; and re-elected in 2012. He represents District H which includes all or parts of the communities of Littleton, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Centennial and Columbine Valley. Email:
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