Friday, December 19, 2008

FasTracks Update: New Options, Survey in January

by Osman Parvez
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Earlier this week, RTD released a bit of FasTracks news, updating the current status of the program. In August, RTD increased the price tag of FasTracks to $7.9 billion from its original, voter-approved, $4.7 billion cost. Throughout October, RTD held meetings in attempt to gauge public opinion on the state of FasTracks. The following five options were discussed, while assuming that the East Corridor, West Corridor, Gold Line, and US 36 BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) Phase 1 would be constructed.
OPTION 1
Build what can be afforded by 2017 - This would include the basic assumptions listed above plus sections of certain corridors - Does Not Implement the Entire Program.

OPTION 2 - ELIMINATED FROM FURTHER CONSIDERATION
Build what can be afforded by 2017 - This would include the basic assumptions listed above plus one additional complete corridor - Does Not Implement Entire Program.

OPTION 3
Build what can be afforded by 2017 - This would include the basic assumptions listed above and sections of some corridors by 2017 plus implementation of the full program over an extended schedule by 2034, or sooner as revenues allow.

OPTION 4
Build what can be afforded by 2017 - This would include the basic assumptions listed above and longer sections of some corridors with limited service by 2017 - and this would implement the full program over an extended schedule by 2034, or sooner as revenues allow.

OPTION 5
Build the complete FasTracks program by 2017 - and seek additional revenue sources.
Option two received very little public support and was therefore eliminated. Option one would mean that short segments of the remaining corridors would be construction. For instance, the Northwest Corridor may only go from Denver to Broomfield, instead of reaching Boulder, Gunbarrel, and Longmont. Option three would extend construction of these remaining segments until 2034. Option four would build longer sections, but offer limited service (trains would run at longer intervals). Option five would implement the entire program by 2017, but would likely mean additional tax increases.

The north metro area would suffer most from FasTracks cuts. City leaders from these areas have formed the North Area Transportation Alliance in order to seek FasTracks funding and support. Thornton Mayor Erik Hansen hopes to receive additional federal support from the incoming presidential administration.
President-elect Barack Obama has indicated he will consider introducing a massive economic stimulus package that could pump up to $1 trillion into the economy, some of which could be used for "shovel ready" transportation projects such as the FasTracks plan. Should that package be passed, the alliance needs to be prepared to make a case for a portion of those funds, Hansen said.
In January 2009, RTD will conduct a public opinion survey on the options for FasTracks. Personally, while I hate the idea of an additional tax increase, I am in support of option four or five. I wrote on this a few months ago, and now, with an even worse job market, I hope that FasTracks will continue to receive support.






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1 comment:

  1. If inflation does come, which seems inevitable to me, this project will fall short of any new plans made today. Seems best to build what we can for as long as we can with current resources, or FasTracks may need to go back to voters a third time. Free federal dollars, however, are welcome anytime.

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