RTD resets priorities for Northwest Rail BRT

DENVER – Bus rapid transit plans for the Northwest Rail Line from Denver to Longmont are moving to the top of RTD’s priority list.

Directors of the Regional Transportation District Tuesday night adopted the recommendations of the Northwest Area Mobility Study, a 15-month collaborative effort with northwest area governments and transportation partners to achieve consensus on a set of recommendations that could bring near-term mobility improvements to the northwest area.

The priorities, some of which can be pursued simultaneously, are:

Complete remaining FasTracks-funded U.S. Highway 36 bus rapid transit commitments.

Conduct advanced planning and design of arterial bus rapid transit on Colorado Highway 119 and U.S. Highway 287. New funding must be identified for these and other arterial corridors.

Work with the Colorado Department of Transportation to evaluate Interstate 25 reverse commute solutions between Denver Union Station and Pecos Street.

Annually evaluate strategies to accelerate implementation of Northwest Rail, while recognizing it is a longer term goal.

Consider implementing additional arterial enhanced bus corridors along Colorado Highway 7, South Boulder Road, 120th Avenue, Colorado Highway 42/95th Street and 28th Street/Broadway.

People in the northwest area have been frustrated by the escalating costs of and lack of progress in creating the Northwest Rail and want to see mobility benefits sooner.

“A little over a year ago, this challenge was daunting,´ said RTD’s board chairman Chuck Sisk. “This study is a real model in regional cooperation, which has been the hallmark of the northwest region. RTD looks forward to continuing this collaborative spirit and working with the public and private sectors in the northwest area to improve mobility and fulfill fully the commitment of FasTracks as passed by the voters in 2004.

RTD officials will begin to pursue the priorities in partnership with local stakeholders, according to a prepared statement.

RTD has applied for a federal grant to fund planning studies for the Colorado 119 and U.S. 287 arterial BRT corridors. Results of that application are expected this fall.

The study was initiated in response to significant cost increases and delays associated with building and operating Northwest Rail – the 41-mile commuter rail line from Denver to Longmont included in RTD’s FasTracks program.

During the course of 17 meetings, elected officials and technical staff from RTD, the Colorado Department of Transportation and 13 area jurisdictions and agencies considered technical, economic and environmental analysis to develop a recommended list of agreed-upon priorities.

Entities that participated in the study are 36 Commuting Solutions and North Area Transportation Alliance; the cities of Arvada, Boulder, Broomfield,  Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, Superior and Westminster; Boulder County; Colorado Department of Transportation, the Denver Regional Council of Governments and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

For more information about the study, visit www.rtd-fastracks.com and click on the Northwest Area Mobility Study tab.

FasTracks is RTD’s voter-approved transit expansion program to build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, add 21,000 new parking spaces, redevelop Denver Union Station and redirect bus service to better connect the eight-county district.

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