City officials mixed on FasTracks funding plan
City officials have a mixed reaction to RTD General Manager Phil Washington’s plans to fund the unfinished portions of FasTracks.
Washington’s plan, which was approved by the 15-member Regional Transportation District board during its Dec. 19 meeting, calls for the allocation of about $277 million to fund unfinished short-term FasTracks projects.
This plan, which has been called the risk allocation matrix, identifies eight medium- to low-risk areas within the transportation district targeted to generate cost savings or additional revenue over the next several years, including the creation of an independent RTD state sales and use tax reconciliation process and increasing the collection of sales taxes on items like candy and soda.
Washington said the cost savings and revenue would then be collected in an internal RTD savings account that would be used to provide additional funding the U.S. 36 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project and the North Metro line up to 72nd Avenue by 2017.
Washington also said updates on this savings account will be provided on a monthly basis to both the RTD board and regional leaders.
“We are truly transparent in this, but we want the region to know what we’re trying to do and how we’re going to spend that money,” Washington said.
However, not everyone is completely on board.
Westminster assistant city manager Aric Otzelberger, who also serves as a 36 Commuting Solutions board member, said he supports the effort being put forth by RTD but added that there must be a stronger resolve in place.
“I think, as we’re all aware, the North and the Northwest are the two major corridors that have unfortunately received the short end of the stick with the FasTracks program to date,” Otzelberger said.
“While we’re appreciative and supportive of RTD’s efforts to come up with some of the funds in the near term, we still would like to see a stronger commitment that those funds and strategies are used not just to come up with the $300 million by 2017 but that the North Metro and Northwest corridors continue to receive priority for additional and unanticipated funding.”
Thornton Ward 3 City Councilwoman Lynne Fox agreed.
“They have to make choices for their whole system, but that doesn’t help our taxpayers when they divert funds into other projects,” Fox said.
“We want to see that line built, and we want them to think creatively about how to fund it and how to get it as far north as possible with the funding they have available.”