Ambitious plan proposed for rail corridor

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An extensive study of development opportunites along the Englewood portion of the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Line resulted in a detailed plan that would make major changes in the areas around the stations, but cost estimates for all the changes are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Alan White, Englewood community development director, presented a report on the plan to the city council at the June 3 study session. He said the presentation was to acquaint the council with the report before it is presented for adoption in September or October.

White noted a grant provided the money for the study, and the consultants developed the plan after gathering data than included comments from several public meetings. Invitations were sent to residents and business owners in areas around the light rail stations. A total of 96 individuals attended the five sessions.

There is no identified source for the funding that would be required for the big-ticket changes, and there was no discussion about seeking such funding.

The study looked at the best possible transit-oritented development at the Englewood and Oxford stations. The report also concluded there wasn’t much support for creation of a light rail station at Bates Avenue. However, there was a recommendation to establish a bike-pedestrian trail from Dartmouth Avenue to the Big Dry Creek trail.

“The report concluded the Englewood station area has the most potential for growth,” White said. “Part of the recommendation is extending Floyd Avenue west under Santa Fe and over the South Platte River to open up the area west of the river to development. Of course, the costs associated with Floyd extension are high.”

The plan included new development around the light rail stations now occupied by private businesses. But White and council members stressed there were no plans to take private property. White added that any new development would only happen if existing property owners were willing to sell their land.

White noted an effort to develop stronger bicycle and pedestrian connections along the corridor could be possible in the near future.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Woodward said Englewood has a start on the bike-pedestrian trail connecting the light rail stations, with established bike lanes on West Oxford Avenue from Santa Fe Drive to Broadway. He added there are connections, including the Big Dry Creek Bike Path, that provide access to the Mary Carter Greenway, and an off-street bike path from Chatfield Reservoir to the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River in downtown Denver.

The presentation was to provide information and, while the council did have some discussion of the proposals, no formal actions to move forward with recommendations were made.