Wednesday, July 09, 2008

FasTracks Station Sites

by Osman Parvez
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The Boulder County Business Report has published an update on FasTracks planning with preferred station sites:

From FasTracks identifies preferred station sites
By David Clucas
My comments in-line
The Regional Transportation District has identified five "preferred" station sites in Broomfield, Louisville, Boulder, Gunbarrel and Longmont as part of the environmental impact study for its proposed 41-mile FasTracks Northwest Corridor commuter rail line.
Most of these sites were well known, though I noticed Niwot lost its station. I updated the Boulder Development Map accordingly. I also did not include the 2 unfunded "additional sites" in Broomfield and East Boulder.
The general vicinity has known for awhile, but this is the first time RTD officials have confirmed specific properties, which they would prefer to purchase for the stations. Things could still change based on planning results and the market, they said.
And investors/developers now have more confirmation on where they should be targeting. With transportation infrastructure like rail stations, areas within walking distance of the stops typically see a boost in value. Given the depressed real estate market in Longmont, that site might pose the best return. Worth a look.
The first stop in the Boulder Valley area would be
Edited list below. Also see the Boulder Development Map. The station locations now show a blue train symbol. The development projects in the map also need to be updated (I know, I know!).

The 5 Preferred Station Sites:
1. Broomfield, east of FlatIron Crossing and U.S. 36.
2. Louisville, east of downtown and Main Street.
3. Boulder, just northeast of The Steel Yards
4. Boulder, in the northern neighborhood of Gunbarrel.
5. Longmont, west of Main Street and south of the old flour mill.
RTD Public Information Officer Karen Morales said the organization is still a few years from acquiring the properties. RTD hope to have a draft of the environmental impact plan by late this year and then finish up planning in 2009. Construction could begin sometime in 2010 with completion expected by the end of 2014
.A few YEARS from buying the property? I hope they've already locked in purchase agreements. Announcing specific properties without negotiated prices would be ridiculous, but the article doesn't say. Guess we'll find out.
Each city and RTD are still discussing if parking structures will be built at each stop and whether the lots will charge for parking. The Northwest Corridor of FasTracks will use all existing rain lines, but the BSNF Railway will make some track improvements and RTD will lease time slots on the line.
Having a stop without parking structures would be a major oversight. Charging for parking is probably a good idea, even if it's a minimal amount. Too many people already use RTD parking as storage, particularly students in Boulder. Plus, as gas prices fluctuate, it provides another lever to moderate traffic on 36.
About seven industrial trains use the track per day. FasTracks will bring 60 to 80 commuter diesel trains a day, Quinn said.

RTD is working with the cities to reduce horn noise, Morales said. Federal regulations require trains to blow their horn as they make their way through road crossings. But with plans to beef up safety measures at each crossing, RTD will seek so called "quiet zones" for the entire 41 miles of Northwest Corridor track.
Concern over noise has been a major issue. As we go from 7 trains a day to 60-80, it will be very noticeable. Good to see RTD acknowledge working on the issue, but I imagine it won't be easy to get exemptions from the Federal Regs. I'd like to see RTD provide more information on how likely this will be and where they are in the process. Those living within a short distance of the rail crossings will be severely affected if the "quiet zones" do not go into place, as will their property values.


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2 comments:

  1. Nice last couple of posts!

    It sure seems that Louisville is positioned in the best possible way. Fast Trak, Conoco Phillips, along with Money Magazine high rankings, and relatively affordable housing, (compared to Boulder).

    We've certainly got a lot going for us in Boulder County. I just hope all these projects reach completion, and are not effected by the general economy, ie... credit issues, and municipal spending cuts. That being said, things would have to get pretty bad to halt Fast Trak, and slow down alternative energy research.

    There is a very bright future for Boulder County. Let's all keep our fingers crossed!

    Keep up the great work Osman.

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  2. You seem to contract yourself on property values. On the one hand, you say property values will be negatively impacted by the constant blaring of horns, and on the other hand you say property values will be positively impacted by proximity to the station. The proximity you mention is walking distance. If I can walk to the station, I can hear the horns. Where is the sweet spot? The Peloton? Landmark (there's a long walk...), The Walnut?

    ReplyDelete