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Voters Frustrated Over Plans To Scrap Northbound FasTracks Rail Expansion

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Light Rail (credit: CBS)

Light Rail (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- Frustration is growing as RTD considers major changes to the FasTracks rail expansion. Since 2005, taxpayers have been paying for a rail line they may never get.

RTD originally planned a rail line from Union Station in Denver to Boulder and Longmont. Now the cost to build it has doubled.

The initial estimate was around $800 million now it’s $1.7 billion.

The Westminster Progressive Homeowners Association has started a petition trying to convince RTD not to abandon plans to build a commuter rail line from Longmont to downtown Denver. Gary Shea heads up the organization. He said he and his neighbors feel RTD owes it to them now.

fastracks map Voters Frustrated Over Plans To Scrap Northbound FasTracks Rail Expansion

(credit: CBS)

“They know the commitments the city has made, that the community has made,” said Shea.

RTD balked at their plan after meeting with the BNSF Railroad. The commuter line would lease the freight carrier’s tracks. BNSF more than doubled what they estimated it would initially cost to operate the line.

“If we wanted to operate their tracks on their corridor, we need to respect their desires of what they want to have happen,” said FasTracks/RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonlis.

On Monday, March 5, RTD staff will consider other options, including building an express bus line on Highway 36.

“The northwest will get good quality transit. The question is what is the best way to provide that,” said Tonlis.

Buses could be running along the stretch as early as 2015. Even that would require more construction and likely, more taxes.

FasTracks plans for the Denver metro area are ambitious. Light Rail construction to Golden is in its final phases while new lines to Denver International Airport and Thornton are under way. At the hub of all the construction is the Union Station redevelopment.

The idea of not having a rail line to the northwest has some people feeling left out.

“I think if the northwest Light Rail line was completed as promised, I think the citizens would be on board with the tax increase,” said Shea.

On Thursday, March 8, the RTD board will vote on what direction to go in. If they decide to stick with the commuter rail plan, expect to see a tax increase proposal on the ballot in November. RTD said with out the additional funds, the rail line won’t be completed until 2042.

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