Officials from the Regional Transportation District announced Jan. 25 that the Southeast Rail Extension Project for the E, R and F lines to three locations in Lone Tree will officially open for service May 19.
Light rail passengers will be able to access new stations at Ridgegate Parkway, the Lone Tree City Center and Sky Ridge Medical Center in south Lone Tree. The project has taken three years to complete at a cost of $233.1 million.
"The Southeast Rail Extension allows RTD a unique opportunity to be an integral part of an overall plan to address access and mobility needs prior to development in this region," said RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova. "The unprecedented collaboration and partnerships that made it possible to complete this line illustrate this region's strong commitment to transportation."
Key figures in the development of the project spoke at the announcement about the project's potential impact on the community. Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet said the promise of the project was integral to attracting key employers in the city, including Sky Ridge Medical Center and Charles Schwab, both of which will be within walking distance of one of the new stations.
“We recognize that not only is it important for the mobility of our residents and visitors and guests — that it really is a link to economic development,” Millet said. “We know it will bring more success, not just to the City of Lone Tree, but to the entire region.”
Keith Simon, executive vice president of Coventry Development — the development group responsible for much of the RidgeGate area — said the project is a “game-changer” to stimulate economic development and reduce highway congestion. Simon announced Coventry plans to build an office park on a one-square-mile area near the RidgeGate station, which is projected to eventually be home to more than 10,000 employees.
Simon said Coventry will build transit-oriented, mixed-use commercial and one "attainable" housing project in the 30 acres of land surrounding the RidgeGate station. The 300 acres surrounding the Lone Tree City Center Station — a sub-area between Ridgegate Parkway and Lincoln Avenue, east of I-25 — will be developed with urban density and a downtown feel. Overall, he estimated the area east of I-25 will include 8,000 new homes and 8 million square feet of commercial development and create 30,000 jobs.
Genova said the 2.3-mile rail extension will have an estimated economic impact on the community of about $22.4 billion. The City of Lone Tree contributed $25 million to the project, with an additional $3 million of in-kind contributions, land and right-of-way. The Federal Transit Administration granted RTD $92 million for the project. Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality contributed a $9.4 million grant.
Overall, the 2,400-square-mile transportation district encompasses an area with a population of 3.1 million people and includes almost 100 miles of track, commuter rail and light rail.
Mike Fitzgerald, CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, said the project is indicative of the leaders who collaborated on the project.
“This is an amazing achievement for an area that really didn't exist 30 years ago,” Fitzgerald said. “It's a phenomenal success story that's helping develop this state and the whole Front Range.”
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