Two key federal approvals made Feb. 6 bring the Regional Transportation District G Line closer to opening for public service. “It's big news,” said Shelley Cook, RTD Director for District L. …
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Two key federal approvals made Feb. 6 bring the Regional Transportation District G Line closer to opening for public service.
“It's big news,” said Shelley Cook, RTD Director for District L. “Several steps are still needed — there's no opening date yet — but this is a significant milestone.”
The approval by the Federal Railroad Administration allows revenue service demonstration of the commuter rail line to Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Adams County, as well as adding the G Line to an existing long-term waiver for the University of Colorado A Line and B Line. RTD said, these represent substantial landmarks in the approval process.
“Today's news represents huge milestones, and I credit all of the collaborative work with our partners that has made it possible,” said Dave Genova, RTD CEO and general manager. “We remain committed to meeting the requirements of our regulators and will continue working closely with them, as well as keeping the public involved at every turn.”
Though city and RTD sources were enthusiastic about the approvals, the public will not see any immediate changes. More approvals are needed before the public can ride the train. Also, the horn blasts at every crossing, will continue for now.
The G Line is part of RTD's 2004 voter-approved FasTracks plan to expand transit across the Denver metro region. It is an 11.2-mile electric commuter rail transit line that will connect Denver Union Station to Wheat Ridge, passing through northwest Denver, Adams County and Arvada. There are eight stations: Denver Union Station, 41st/Fox, Pecos, Federal, Gold Strike, Olde Town Arvada, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road.
The line was completed in 2016, but two years later, it's still stuck in the testing phase with no opening date.
The gate-crossing technology, which caused the initial hold-up on the line opening, is the same used along two additional lines originating in downtown Denver: the University of Colorado A Line, to Denver International Airport, and the commuter train B Line, to Westminster.
The A and B line have been operating on a special waiver since opening in 2016, as regulators continued to have concerns over crossing gates coming down too soon or staying down too long. The G Line will now be on the same waiver.
In December, RTD said they were hopeful for a first quarter 2019 opening, but with several steps still to be completed before opening, Arvada Mayor Marc Williams said he doesn't think that's likely.
“I'm not overly optimistic for first quarter opening partly because the government shutdown has created some delay,” Williams said. “I am cautiously optimist for a second quarter 2019 opening.”
The shutdown delayed approvals coming in from the FRA needed to bring the line to the next step.
Currently testing trains run on the G Line from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. RTD is in the process of applying for quiet zone status — allowing the train to not sound its horn at each rail crossing — to the annoyance of local residents and businesses in Wheat Ridge and Arvada. Some Olde Town Arvada businesses have started displaying a sticker reading “Arvada is horny” with the picture of a train on it.
Federal regulators will consider that quiet zone this month. Assuming regulators don't have any complaints, the zones could be established within 21 days.
Crossing attendants, however, must remain along the G Line as RTD and concessionaire Denver Transit Partners work through items outlined in a plan submitted to FRA late last year.
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