Much-anticipated rail line to open
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will welcome passengers aboard the new W Light Rail Line next week. This is the first line of RTD’s multi-billion dollar FasTracks transit expansion plan to open. Riders will be able to travel the 12.1-mile light rail transit line from Jefferson County Government Center to the Federal Center, through Lakewood and Denver, to the Denver Union Station — and beyond.
Not to say there weren’t challenges. This milestone required the building of 13 bridges, two tunnels, a bike path, 20 at-grade crossings, six Park-n-Rides with 5,600 spaces, 12 stations and 12 miles of light rail. Additionally, utilities were relocated and property had to be purchased in order for the rail line to run the most effective route.
Another concern that has arisen will be the elimination of some existing bus routes.
These changes will be a challenge to get used to and as time goes on there may be further adjustments.
With light rail tracks traveling within 20 feet of many homes in Lakewood and near four elementary schools, safety was a major consideration. RTD partnered with the City of Lakewood and other local agencies to develop a robust safety outreach program. A “Safe Routes to School” grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation helped fund this educational component.
RTD even constructed a mock automated rail crossing to teach school children how to safely cross the tracks.
I invite you to participate in the opening activities.
The grand opening ceremony is Friday, April 26, with free rides on the W line from the Jefferson County-Golden Station to Denver Union Station.
Festivities continue on Saturday, April 27, with parties at the majority of the W Line stations and free rides throughout RTD’s entire light rail system. The W Line opens for business on Sunday, April 28. For more information and the specific train schedule, please visit www.rtd-denver.com.
Natalie Menten, RTD Director, District M
Natalie Menten was elected to the RTD Board of Directors in November 2012 for a four-year term. She represents District M, which includes Golden, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and portions of unincorporated Jefferson County. She welcomes comments at Natalie.Menten@rtd-Denver.com.