The FasTracks program evaluation presented at the March 3 Regional Transportation District Board of Directors meeting painted a classic “good news, …
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The FasTracks program evaluation presented at the March 3
Regional Transportation District Board of Directors meeting painted
a classic “good news, bad news” scenario.
The good news was construction cost estimates dropped almost $1
billion. But, the bad news is forecast revenues also declined,
increasing the funding gap so about $2.2 billion of additional
revenues would be needed to complete the project by 2017.
The suggestion was to ask voters to increase the RTD portion of
the sales tax by .04 cents, which would provide the money to
complete the project on time.
Voters approved raising the sales tax .04 cents in 2004 to pay
for FasTracks. The proposal would ask voters to double the tax to
expand mass transit in the metro area.
FasTracks is the 12-year project to expand the metro area mass
transit system. Plans were to add a total of 119 miles of light
rail and commuter rail lines, enhance bus networks, transform Union
Station into the metro-area transit hub, create five new
park-N-Ride lots and improve existing transit systems and
facilities. The project was scheduled to be completed by 2017.
The project proposes building a mass transit system that
includes light rail lines to the west to Golden and north to
Longmont, a commuter-rail line from Union Station to Denver
International Airport and a rapid-transit bus corridor to
Additionally, the proposal extends the Southwest Corridor Light
Rail Line to Highlands Ranch and the Southeast line to Sky Ridge
The proposal was a balanced budget when the FasTracks sale-tax
increase request was presented to voters in 2004 with collections
of $4.7 billion matching the estimated construction costs.
However, things changed dramatically in 2008 when construction
costs skyrocketed to $7.9 billion, while, because of the struggling
economy, revenue estimates that included federal government grants,
dropped to $5.8 billion.
Marci Palateria shook her head as she read about the evaluation
while she waited for the light rail train at the Littleton
The Centennial resident said she works in Golden. She said
currently, she found the easiest commute is light rail to downtown
where she catches the bus to Golden so she has eagerly been looking
forward to the FasTracks light rail line that would make the trip
quicker and easier.
“Now, I don’t know what to think,” she said. “I still hope the
line will be built and put in service. It would be great for a lot
of people. But the money may not be there. Personally, I would vote
for a tax increase to get the light rail line built.”
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