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FasTracks is a twelve-year, $6.2 billion (originally $4.7 billion) public transportation expansion plan for the Denver-Aurora and Bouldermarker metropolitan areas in Coloradomarker, USAmarker, developed by the Regional Transportation District. The plan calls for six light rail, diesel commuter rail, and electric commuter rail lines with a combined length of 119 miles (192 km) to be opened between 2013 and 2016 to help relieve traffic congestion on the region's roads and highways. It expands on previous transportation projects, notably T-REX. The plan also includes the expansion of existing light rail stations, the addition of a bus-based rapid transit route between Denvermarker and Boulder, and the addition and expansion of bus routes and parking facilities to support the new rail lines.


The new commuter and light rail lines will share a hub at Denver's Union Stationmarker. It will undergo $200 million worth of facility improvements as part of FasTracks. Endpoints of the radial rail lines are planned for Longmontmarker, Thorntonmarker, Denver International Airportmarker, Lone Treemarker, Littletonmarker, Goldenmarker, and Arvadamarker. FasTracks will include stops near the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker and a connector line through Auroramarker.

Line details

West Corridor (light rail)

This will be a new light rail line of that will follow a former Associated Railroad right-of-way. The line's Final Environmental Impact Statement has been completed and it has entered its Final Design phase. The cost to build the line is estimated to be $635 million*. Twelve stations will be located on the line. There will be an additional 5,054 parking spaces for transit added along the route. The line is scheduled to open in 2013.

In May 2007 it was announced that the line from the Federal Center to the Jefferson County Government Center will be reduced to a single track to help cut costs. According to RTD, this change will reduce train headways from 5 minutes to 15 minutes and make it easier for the line to run in the median of U.S. 6.Preliminary work on the line began on May 16, 2007 at 13th & Quail in Lakewoodmarker. A "rail pulling" ceremony was held with Lakewood and RTD representatives in attendance.

On June 18, 2008, the Regional Transportation District announced the price of the the west corridor light rail project had jumped to $707 million from $634 million.

Northwest Rail Corridor (commuter rail)

The Northwest Rail Corridor will be a commuter rail project between Denver, Bouldermarker, and Longmontmarker. The proposed line would have seven stations on a route that would follow an existing railroad right-of-way. It is expected to open in 2014 at a cost of $684.4 million.

US 36 Corridor (bus rapid transit)

This will be an long express bus line running along US 36 between Denver and Boulder. Six stations are planned along this route, and is expected to cost $235.6 million to build. The project will be completed in two phases, with the first phase to be completed by 2008 and the second by 2016.

East Corridor (commuter rail)

Another commuter rail line that is expected to open in 2015 is the East Corridor, a line between downtown Denver, Auroramarker, and Denver International Airportmarker. It is estimated to cost $1.14 billion to build. To expedite travel time between downtown Denver and Denver International Airportmarker, only six stations will be located on the line, namely DIA, Airport Blvd/40th Ave, Peoria/Smith, Stapleton, 40th/40th, and Union Station.

On July 24, 2007, the RTD board chose EMU commuter trains as the mode of rail transportation that will be used on the East Corridor. RTD also announced that the East Corridor had been designated a Public Private Partnership or Penta-P by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Under this program, a private entity would finance, design, build and possibly maintain and operate the rail line. This program is designed to reduce the costs of rail line construction and operation.

North Metro Corridor (commuter rail)

The North Metro Corridor is a commuter rail that is planned to run along an existing railroad right-of-way from Denver to 160th Avenue in Thorntonmarker. The will have eight stations on its 28-mile (28.8 km) route. Plans call for the North Metro Corridor line to open in 2015 at estimated construction cost of $637.2 million.

I-225 Corridor (light rail)

Facilitating a circumferential link between the Southeast Corridor and the East Corridor is the I-225 Corridor, a new 10.5-mile (16.8-km) light rail line running through Auroramarker. The project will include seven new stations and provide 1,800 new parking spaces. This line will open in 2015 and is estimated to cost $619.6 million.

Gold Line (commuter rail)

The Gold Line is an rail line between Denver and Arvadamarker, which would have seven stations and provide 2,050 new parking spaces. It is expected to open in 2015 and cost $552.5 million to build. Budget concerns have sparked debate over alternatives to light rail on the planned Gold Line. Two alternatives proposed include electric trains on the railroad alignment and the modern streetcar on the 38th and Harlan alignment.

As with the East Corridor, the RTD Board of Directors chose Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) commuter trains to run on the Gold Line; this line has also been designated a Public Private Partnership (Penta-P).

Extensions (light rail)

Extensions to light rail lines that have already been completed are planned. Extensions approved by the FasTracks plan include a extension to the Southwest Corridor, extending the line to the southwest corner of Lucent Boulevard and C-470; a extension to the Southeast Corridor into Lone Treemarker; and a extension to the Central Corridor to connect the 30th & Downing stationmarker with the East Corridor commuter rail line at the intersection of 40th & 40th.


FasTracks is being funded with federal appropriations, private contributions, and a region-wide sales tax increase. The project was allowed to begin when the sales tax portion of its funding was approved by Denver metro area voters in November 2004. The tax went into effect in January 2005.

In 2006, engineering design of the initial segment was begun. The West Corridor line's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has already been completed.

By spring of 2006, the EISs of all other proposed lines were underway. The municipal governments of Denver, Boulder and Lakewoodmarker had launched detailed studies of community redevelopment possibilities around station locations. The cities of Westminstermarker, Thorntonmarker, Auroramarker, Greenwood Villagemarker, Englewoodmarker, Sheridanmarker, and Arvadamarker are also planning transit oriented development areas around some of their proposed rail stations.

Central to the regional nature of the service package is Union Stationmarker. Special studies of its redevelopment and adaptation for multiple transport modes have been conducted and engineering design work and property development work was underway in 2006.

In May 2007, a $1.5 billion budget overrun was reported. RTD attributed the problem to construction costs and additional infrastructure requests outside the scope of the original plan. The FasTracks program is also facing the problem of lower-than-expected sales tax revenue.


Over budget: The original estimate made by the proponents of the FasTracks project touted a total cost of $4.7 billion. The current estimate has grown to more than $6 billion.

No-bid contracts: RTD awarded a no-bid contract for railcars to the Siemens Corporation who contributed $101,000 to the FasTracks Yes campaign issue committee.

Impact on Congestion Negligible: Rail transit critic Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute wrote a paper titled "The Full Truth About FasTracks" prior to the ballot measure passing in November 2004. This paper contains many criticisms including predictions that FasTracks will have a negligible impact on congestion in the Denver metropolitan region.

Eminent Domain: Both Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District have used eminent domain to condemn properties in the path of transportation projects. While eminent domain, or the forcible taking of private property for a public good, is sometimes unavoidable, organizations such as the Colorado Property Rights Coalition and the Property Rights Project allege that government transit agencies have abused their condemnation powers in these ways:

1. Transit Oriented Development at 14th and Wadsworth in Lakewood, Colorado.

2. Inverse condemnation A business at 1195 Benton St. Lakewood CO 80214.

Most of these claims are backed by property owners affected by eminent domain in which they feel they not only should have received market value for their property, but also using eminent domain beyond what is considered public good when seized property is given to other profit-making private entities.


  1. RTD is 'starting out West' > About Town > Stories > Lakewood >
  2. The Denver Post: RTD Seeks Private Lifeline
  3. FasTracks Home
  4. FasTracks Home
  5. FasTracks Home
  6. FasTracks proponents campaign literature
  7. Rocky Mountain News article from May 21, 2007
  8. Siemens's FasTracks Contributions
  9. The Full Truth About FasTracks
  10. Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District use of eminent domain
  11. Colorado Property Rights Coalition
  12. Property Rights Project
  13. The Human Cost of FasTracks
  14. RTD FasTracks Derails an American Dream

See also

External links

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