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West Line Opening Only Beginning For Light Rail Expansion

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- Voters overwhelmingly approved a huge expansion of light rail in the Denver metro area in 2004. Nine years after FasTracks was approved the West Line started running.

“The West Line is a little example of how fast we are moving in Colorado. It’s eight months ahead of schedule and on budget,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Crowds lined up on Friday morning to get on the first light rail train on the “W” line to be open to the public.

The “W” Line is expected to drive millions of dollars in economic development along the corridor.

“This area has been very quiet for many, many years,” said Eiber Neighborhood Association spokesman Paul Ditson.

Ditson has mixed emotions about the arrival of trains in part because of safety, noise, parking and privacy concerns.

“There is a serious loss of privacy for many adjacent property owners. All of this builds up into the possibility of a degradation of property values,” said Ditson.

Rails lined the streets along 13th Avenue in the past. Trolleys made their way during the late 40s and trains before that. But none of them had the frequency of light rail.

“We have worked tirelessly with all of the communities, all of the cities, counties; we have had hundreds of community meetings and a lot of feedback. We’ve worked with individual neighborhood organizations,” said RTD spokeswoman Daria Serna.

This is only the beginning for the expansion of light rail. The Gold Line will run from downtown Denver to Wheat Ridge and Arvada. Work is under way for the 2016 opening.

That’s also the year the East Line to Denver International Airport is scheduled to begin service. The link from the Denver metro area to DIA will not be light rail but heavy commuter rail.

The Interstate 225 extension is also scheduled to be completed in 2016.

LINK: RTD W Line Map/Schedule

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