A lot is happening at the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and with our ambitious FasTracks transit expansion program, and I’m happy and excited to share some of the progress we’re making. Right now, the most relevant news for the residents in my district is the March 20 North Metro Rail Line groundbreaking.
A ceremony is set for 10 a.m. at the future 124th Avenue and Eastlake Station south of the Eastlake Farmers Co-Operative Grain Elevator, located at 126th Avenue and Claude Court. As always, the public is welcome to join in the celebration. We will commemorate the start of construction on the first 12.5 miles of the 18.5-mile commuter rail line from Union Station to 124th in Thornton.
In less than a year, RTD made and upheld commitments to advance the project toward completion. As such, North Metro Rail is scheduled to open in 2018.
Last February, the agency received an unsolicited proposal from Graham Contracting Limited to build the line. Through an extensive evaluation process, RTD determined the proposal was sound and released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in June.
By the September deadline, RTD received four detailed proposals. Through a comprehensive evaluation, RTD staff in November recommended to the RTD Board of Directors the contractor — now called Regional Rail Partners (RRP) — to design and build the rail line to 124th. The Board approved the recommendation by awarding the contract, and RTD issued a Notice to Proceed in December.
RTD expedited a process that would typically take up to two years — to receive an unsolicited proposal, release an RFP, receive proposals and review, make a recommendation and approve — sooner rather than later.
The transit agency is committed to completing the FasTracks program and our customers have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
This year we will not only break ground on North Metro Rail, but also open a new 22-bay bus concourse at Denver Union Station May 9, adding another important element to the regional transit hub.
The new bus concourse will bring changes for RTD riders commuting into downtown. Market Street Station will close permanently and all buses will operate in and out of Union Station. With this, there will be some minor changes to the bus schedules, so please watch for more information as we get closer to the date.
Along with the bus concourse opening, we will introduce a new service for commuters called the Free MetroRide. This high-frequency bus service will connect passengers from Union Station to the Civic Center area, running every five minutes during peak rush hours.
RTD’s call for innovation and the private sector’s response of creativity to build North Metro Rail has been positive in many respects. Making all of this possible has been the camaraderie of RTD staff and Board members, stakeholders and citizens working toward its completion.
North Metro Rail is no longer only a vision. It is fast becoming a reality.
RTD Director Paul Solano represents District K, which includes Commerce City, Brighton and portions of Thornton and unincorporated Adams County.