A lot of remarkable progress is taking place as the Regional Transportation District (RTD) continues to build new rail lines.
You can see it along the new commuter rail alignment between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport, where big bridges, steel rails and overhead wires already are building anticipation for the start of train service in 2016.
However, what makes RTD a vibrant and responsive public transit agency isn’t the concrete and steel of our mega-projects – it’s the living, breathing passengers we carry on our system day in and day out.
As an elected member of the RTD Board of Directors, one of my fundamental responsibilities is to advocate for the transit needs of residents in District B, which is anchored by northeast Denver and north Aurora.
Recently, Montbello and Green Valley Ranch residents told me they thought bus Route 45, which serves the heart of those communities, stopped running too soon in the evening. The last trips of the day left Green Valley Ranch westbound at 5:32 p.m. and Montbello eastbound at 6:16 p.m.
The schedule was leaving some riders with no way home from after-school or after-work activities except to call a friend or family member for a ride. It was easy to see the potential to serve our customers better. At my request, our service planners analyzed the cost and benefits of extending those service hours to accommodate later trips.
As a result, RTD is adding two more hours of service to the Route 45, past 8 p.m. Eight new bus trips have been added – four eastbound and four westbound, running every half hour. The last departure from the Montbello Park-n-Ride on Peoria Street will be 8:16 p.m., arriving at 56th Avenue and Genoa Street in Green Valley Ranch at 8:53 p.m.
Now that RTD has opened its new Union Station bus concourse, all eyes are turning to our District B, where the East Rail Line – the next big RTD FasTracks project – is 60 percent built and on track to open in early 2016.
This project has brought major construction to Clayton, Cole, North Park Hill, Stapleton, Morris Heights and other neighborhoods along Smith Road. RTD appreciates the patience you have shown with the disruption the project has caused to some of our bus routes and roadways that cross the tracks. We are obligated to rebuild all of the at-grade crossings of our new tracks, and it takes a lot of time.
Our construction workers are highly skilled and focused on their jobs. They are delivering a quality project in extreme heat or cold, year-round. We want them to be safe in doing so. When you go through our construction zones, please slow down. Please be careful and give the workers a thumbs-up and a smile.
The East Rail Line will be RTD’s first non-light rail train service. Rail cars on this line will be larger, heavier, self-propelled electric vehicles carrying more people and traveling faster than light rail cars. You will get an opportunity to see them this fall when the first four of 66 fleet cars arrive in Denver from a Philadelphia assembly plant.
RTD and Denver Transit Partners, the concessionaire that is building and will operate these trains, are planning an open house weekend when you will be able to view and walk through the new vehicles. Sign up for our mailing list at http://tinyurl.com/RTDcomments to get all of the newsletters, traffic alerts, tour invitations and other project news.
Also, construction is ready to start on the portion of the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail project north of Colfax Avenue in District B, which will connect to the East Rail Line at Peoria Street and Smith Road. The Aurora Line/I-225 Rail will provide a southbound connection to the heart of Aurora, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the adjacent Fitzsimons Life Science District, Denver Tech Center, and entertainment and job opportunities for District B residents.
Finally, Peoria Crossing, the new bridge that carries traffic up and over Union Pacific and RTD tracks at Peoria Street, is open. It’s a big improvement in mobility for northeast Denver and north Aurora, eliminating the busiest at-grade crossing on the airport train project.
Yes, a lot of exciting changes are taking place around RTD’s eight-county district, including right here in District B. I invite you to join us in welcoming all of the improvements.
Editor’s note: Barbara Deadwyler represents RTD’s District B, which covers portions of Denver, Aurora and unincorporated Adams County. Visit http://www.rtd-denver.com/BoardDirectors.shtml to learn more about the RTD Board of Directors.