Study reveals potential costs, ridership for rail

Posted 10/16/13

The Northwest Area Mobility Study team released higher than expected preliminary numbers for estimated cost and ridership for the FasTracks transit …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Study reveals potential costs, ridership for rail


The Northwest Area Mobility Study team released higher than expected preliminary numbers for estimated cost and ridership for the FasTracks transit options between Denver and Longmont.

The 13-month study began in March and is an effort to develop a consensus between RTD, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the northwest area stakeholders in terms of prioritizing the mobility needs in the northwest area.

The results were presented to the Regional Transportation District board of directors on Oct. 8.

Chris Quinn, RTD project manager for the Northwest Area Mobility study, said the reason the numbers are so much higher for the first segment — 71st Avenue and Lowell Boulevard to Broomfield — is because of the necessary construction of a maintenance facility for the corridor and during the first segment RTD would have to pay a fee to BNSF Railway to use the corridor.

The high price on the last segment is due to the length of the segment, which is 19.5 miles, he added.

“We still have a lot of work to do to evaluate all of the benefits and impacts of the alternatives under consideration,” Quinn said.

“We need to collectively understand the full picture in order to develop consensus on the best path forward for the northwest area.”

Phil Washington, RTD general manager, said no action was taken by the RTD board.

He said as this point, RTD is purely analyzing and digesting the information.

After the study is complete, scheduled for December or January, the team will gather its findings, present to the board again, and then if needed action will be taken, he added.

“If the study finds that we stick with rail, there will be no needed action,” Washington said.

“But if it turns out we go a different direction, then down the road action will be needed.”

Another mobility option the Northwest Area Mobility Study team is investigating is the potential for arterial Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, lines, which would likely serve different markets and travel patterns than rail.

Quinn said the six potential BRT corridors the team studied include: Colorado highway 119 between Boulder and Longmont, South Boulder Road, Colorado Highway 7, U.S. 287, Colorado Highway 42 and 120th Avenue. Preliminary projections for capital costs and ridership for the Northwest Arterial BRT System is $255 million to $300 million with 16,300-26,000 riders per day in the year 2035.

“We are not comparing the rail to BRT,” Washington said. “We are just laying out all of the information we received from our consultant. I feel this is definitely progress at this point.”

Westminster mayor Nancy McNally said with the help of the Northwest Area Mobility study, working with RTD and also working with BNSF experts on the study team, the stakeholders in the area are able to think practically about what can be done.

She said because the line is owned by BNSF, the operational fee for the rail is expensive but is a must for the project.

“No matter how long or how short the next extension is, that fee immediately gets put in and makes the number look huge,” McNally said.

“We have to look at that likes it’s a lease. We are using somebody else’s line. People have to understand that this line is different than other lines, but the process is fair and we have to operate in a different way.”

Other areas of the study include: determining the remaining BRT funding priorities for US 36, evaluating the potential for extending North Metro Line to Longmont and analyzing potential alternatives to facilitate reverse commute between downtown Denver and US 36.

For more information on the Northwest Area Mobility study, go online to


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.