By Dillon Thomas
LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4)– Residents and politicians in Longmont have called on the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to expedite efforts to establish commuter railways between their city, and Denver.
Residents told CBS4 they noticed the city was reaching capacity with traffic during high hours, and felt that should have been resolved by a tax increase in 2004.
“We have an incredible influx of new people,” said Roselyn Strommen, a 34-year resident of Longmont. “The congestion is absolutely amazing. There are no quick ways to get anywhere.”
Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the transportation issue could be addressed through railway. He said his residents agreed to a tax increase in 2004, giving money to a program called “FasTracks.” Longmont has since given more than $50 million to RTD, without the results Bagley expected.
Bagley said the money should have gone towards bringing the Northwest Rail Line to Longmont. RTD has only built the line as far north as Westminster.
“Denver metro gets the love. Longmont has to fight for the scraps,” Bagley said.
Strommen said she was one of the residents who voted for the tax increase 14 years prior, and expected a train to be in Longmont by 2018.
“I was excited about it. I had no problems paying my tax dollars for transit,” Strommen said. “We have been paying in to it. And then the goal posts continue to get moved.”
“The problem is, we are the outlier. We are the end of the line,” Bagley said.
Bagley drafted a letter to RTD, and has asked other mayors to sign it alongside him. Many have agreed.
The letter encouraged RTD to press forward with the railway through northern Boulder County.
“We are not even asking for the full thing. Just a couple trains in the morning, a couple trains at night,” Bagley said.
Bagley said a temporary train route could utilize the Burlington Northern railroad, which already runs through Longmont. He said the city, and RTD, could reach a potential agreement with the company to rent time on the tracks.
Scott Reed, spokesperson for RTD, told CBS4 the transit system still planned on making its way to Longmont in the future. He said money was a major factor in the progress, or lack thereof.
Reed said everyone within the RTD district paid the same tax increase, and Longmont it just one of many that are awaiting their train routes.
Bagley proposed using a potential tax increase in November, as more incentive to build the railway to Longmont. The increase would first have to be approved by residents. Then, the city could ask RTD to match their finances.
Reed said RTD was pleased to hear there was potential for a further financial partnership with the project.
He said the further engagement by Longmont could help expedite the process, citing how Lone Tree annexed themselves in to the district, in order to expedite their railway.
“If it is feasible (financially), we are more than happy,” Reed told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas by phone.
With his city continuously growing… he has one strong message for RTD.
Reed said RTD did have discussions with Burlington North about renting time, or purchasing portions, of their railway system along the Front Range.
Until trains arrive at the city-planned stop at 1st and Main Street, Bagley said he would not rest on the issue.
“You have two options. Give us what we are paying for, or stop taking our money. Pick one,” Bagley said.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.