A telephone town hall hosted by RTD this past week provided no answers as to when the Southwest Line of light rail would be extended into Highlands Ranch — just more questions.
The hourlong call-in with district officials and RTD District H Director Kent Bagley on Nov. 7 brought participants up to date on many of the happenings within the Regional Transit District, including timelines for Denver Union Station, the East rail line to the airport and the likely winning bidder to construct the North Metro line, but there was still no concrete timeline for the proposed Lucent Station.
Graham, Balfour Beatty, Harmon Constructors, the Canadian firm expected to be formally selected to complete the North Metro line later this month, did include in its proposal, as requested by RTD, the cost to complete the Southwest Line into Highlands Ranch as well as the southeast line from Lincoln Station in Lone Tree south to Ridgegate; however, funding for those projects is yet to be identified.
“As additional funds become available, RTD can exercise an option of the contractor to build out the extensions,” Bagley said. “The question over the issue of funding should be answered over the next six to nine months.”
The bids that GBBH put in for the southern extensions are good for two years, Bagley said, adding that the district may negotiate to extend those bids further out. As far as an actual timeline for any construction, the director said he simply did not know.
Bagley said he was unable to disclose the actual costs of either southern extension as the contract is yet to be signed, but RTD has disclosed that the cost of the North Metro extension to GBBH is $343 million and that project — which will connect Denver Union Station to 124th Avenue in Thornton — should be complete by 2018.
When it is to be built, or funded, continues to be a mystery, but Bagley did offer a few callers answers in regard to what appears to be some growing discontent over the location of the future Lucent Station in Highlands Ranch — which is west of Lucent Boulevard and north of Plaza Drive, across from Benjamin Franklin Academy.
At an October station planning meeting, a straw poll showed that 90 percent of residents in attendance were in favor of relocating the station. The majority of the opposition stemmed from concerns surrounding parking spillover into adjacent neighborhoods, safety for pedestrians and cyclists and traffic congestion on Plaza Drive, something that is already an issue when school begins and lets out.
“We purchased that property three years ago and will be continuing to move forward with the station area master plan,” Bagley said. “This location has been known since 2004 on the FasTracks plan. It is not like it is something that is brand new.”
Bagley did say that RTD will work on any potential traffic issues with Douglas County when that time comes.