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RTD Board authorizes new bus rapid transit in northwest area

The RTD Board of Directors has given the go-ahead to move forward with two additional transit projects - the bus rapid transit along Colorado 119 between Boulder and Longmont and he Southeast Rail Extension in Douglas County.

These projects will be included in RTD's amendment to the region's 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, or RTP, which RTD will submit to the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) in early August.

A bus rapid transit vehicle from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority was on display in downtown Denver and the RTD northwest service area
A bus rapid transit vehicle from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority was on display in downtown Denver and the RTD northwest service area

At the regular Board meeting July 15, 2014, the RTD Board authorized a $75 million bus rapid transit or BRT route along Colorado Highway 119 in the northwest area along with a  $207 million extension of the existing Southeast Light Rail Line farther south into Lone Tree.

"These two projects are huge from a regional perspective because they promote progress in the northwest and southeast parts of the metro region, and it's another example of the tremendous cooperation we enjoy as a region," said Board Chair Chuck Sisk. "Both projects are subject to receiving federal funds, but RTD has a successful history in securing federal funds to help build regional projects."

RELATED: Read more about the Southeast Rail Extension project

Focus on bus rapid transit

The Board accepted arterial BRT as the next transportation priority in the northwest region's plans. The recently concluded Northwest Area Mobility Study identified arterial BRT on Colorado 119 as the top priority to improve the area's mobility.

The study, a 15-month collaborative effort with northwest area governments and transportation partners, achieved consensus on recommendations for near-term mobility improvements in the northwest region.

RTD has already applied for a federal grant to fund the next level of study for the Colorado 119 BRT project. Results of that application are expected this fall.

The U.S. 36 Bus Rapid Transit project is already well under construction. It's scheduled to begin service between Denver and Boulder in 2016.

Since the 2007 economic downturn, when building costs skyrocketed and tax revenues plummeted, RTD has sought funding from alternative sources to build and complete FasTracks projects. The leveraging of public and private funds and federal grants has increased RTD's ability to move forward with its transit expansion program.

For the past few years, the market has dictated which FasTracks projects get done. This has led to the construction of two projects: the I-225 Light Rail Line, from the current end-of-line Nine Mile station to I-70 and Peoria, and the North Metro Line from Union Station to 124th Street in Thornton.
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