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FasTracks is a $6.5 billion public transportation expansion plan, currently under construction, for the Denver-Aurora and Boulder metropolitan areas in Colorado, USA, developed by the Regional Transportation District. The plan calls for six light rail, diesel commuter rail, and electric commuter rail lines with a combined length of 119 miles (192 km) to be opened between 2013 and 2016 to provide commuters an alternative to the region's congested roads and highways. It expands on previous transportation projects, notably T-REX. The plan also includes the expansion of existing light rail stations, the addition of a bus-based rapid transit route between Denver and Boulder, and the addition and expansion of bus routes and parking facilities to support the new rail lines.
The new commuter and light rail lines will share a hub at Denver's Union Station. It will undergo $200 million worth of facility improvements as part of FasTracks. Endpoints of the radial rail lines are planned for Longmont, Thornton, Denver International Airport, Lone Tree, Littleton, Golden, and Arvada. FasTracks will include stops near the University of Colorado at Boulder and a connector line through Aurora.
Line details 
|RTD Light Rail and Commuter Rail Expansion Map|
West Corridor 
Preliminary work on the line began on May 16, 2007 at 13th & Quail in Lakewood. A "rail pulling" ceremony was held with Lakewood and RTD representatives in attendance. During early stages of development, it was decided that the line from the Federal Center to the Jefferson County Government Center will be reduced to a single track to help cut costs. According to RTD, this change would reduce train headways from 5 minutes to 15 minutes and make it easier for the line to run in the median of U.S. 6. The W Line, which runs along the western corridor of the Denver metro area is the first completed segment of the FasTracks regional transit-expansion plan. The 12.1 mile light rail line was opened to the public on April 26, 2013.
Northwest Rail Corridor (commuter rail) 
The Northwest Rail Corridor will be a commuter rail project between Denver, Boulder, and Longmont. The proposed 41-mile (66 km) line would have seven stations on a route that would follow an existing railroad right-of-way. The first segment of the line, extending from Denver Union Station to south Westminster, is already under construction and is expected to open in 2016. The remaining segment, extending to downtown Longmont, will require additional funding in order to be completed.
Plans for the Northwest Rail Corridor have been bedeviled by funding woes that arose during the Great Recession. In 2012, RTD announced that, without additional funding, portions of the Northwest rail project would not be completed until 2044. The announcement angered many voters in the cities and suburbs north of Denver who had approved a sales tax increase in 2004 to fund the FasTracks project. RTD is currently conducting a study that primarily aims to identify improvements to their transit construction plans in this region. Secondarily, the study aims to identify other possible funding sources for the north metro rail line. The study is expected to be completed in 2014.
US 36 Corridor (bus rapid transit) 
This will be an 18-mile (29 km) long express bus line running along US 36 between Denver and Boulder, Colorado. Six stations are planned along this route, and is expected to cost $235.6 million to build. The project will be completed in two phases, with the first phase to be completed by 2010 and the second by 2018.
East Rail Line (commuter rail) 
Another commuter rail line that is expected to open in 2016 is the East Rail Line, a 23.6-mile (38.0 km) line between downtown Denver, Aurora, and Denver International Airport. It is estimated to cost $1.14 billion to build. To expedite travel time between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport, only seven stations will be located on the line, namely DIA, Airport Blvd/40th Ave, Peoria/Smith, Central Park Blvd (Stapleton), Colorado Blvd, 38th/Blake, and Union Station.
On July 24, 2007, the RTD board chose EMU commuter trains as the mode of rail transportation that will be used on the East Corridor. RTD also announced that the East Rail Line had been designated a Public Private Partnership or Penta-P by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Under this program, a private entity would finance, design, build and possibly maintain and operate the rail line. This program is designed to reduce the costs of rail line construction and operation. Construction started in August 2010, and is expected to be completed in 2015.
North Metro Corridor (commuter rail) 
The North Metro Corridor is a commuter rail that is planned to run along an existing railroad right-of-way from Denver to 160th Avenue in Thornton. The line will have eight stations on its 28-mile (28.8 km) route. Plans call for the North Metro Corridor line to open in 2019 at estimated construction cost of $637.2 million.
I-225 Corridor (light rail) 
Facilitating a circumferential link between the Southeast Corridor and the East Corridor is the I-225 Corridor, a new 10.5-mile (16.8-km) light rail line running through Aurora. The project will include seven new stations and provide 1,800 new parking spaces. This line will open in 2016 and is estimated to cost $619.6 million.
Gold Line (commuter rail) 
The Gold Line is an 11.2-mile (18.0 km) electric commuter rail corridor that will run from Denver Union Station to Wheat Ridge, passing through the northwestern Denver suburbs, Adams County and Arvada. The line will have eight stations: Union Station, 41st Avenue, Pecos, Federal, Sheridan, Olde Town, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road. It is expected to open in 2016 and cost $590.5 million to build. Budget concerns sparked debate over alternatives to light rail on the planned Gold Line. Two alternatives proposed include electric trains on the railroad alignment and the modern streetcar on the 38th and Harlan alignment.
As with the East Corridor, the RTD Board of Directors chose Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) commuter trains to run on the Gold Line; this line is also to be operated as part of the Eagle P3 public-private partnership.
Extensions (light rail) 
There are plans for extensions to existing light rail lines. Extensions approved by the FasTracks plan include a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) extension to the Southwest Corridor, extending the line to the southwest corner of Lucent Boulevard and C-470; a 2.3-mile (3.7 km) extension to the Southeast Corridor into Lone Tree; and a 0.8-mile (1.3 km) extension to the Central Corridor to connect the 30th & Downing station with the East Corridor commuter rail line at the intersection of 38th and Blake.
FasTracks is being funded with federal appropriations, private contributions, and a region-wide sales tax increase. The project was allowed to begin when the sales tax portion of its funding was approved by Denver metro area voters in November 2004. The tax went into effect in January 2005.
In 2006, engineering design of the initial segment was begun. The West Corridor line's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has already been completed.
By spring of 2006, the EISs of all other proposed lines were underway. The municipal governments of Denver, Boulder, and Lakewood had launched detailed studies of community redevelopment possibilities around station locations. The cities of Westminster, Thornton, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Englewood, Sheridan, and Arvada are also planning transit oriented development areas around some of their proposed rail stations.
Central to the regional nature of the service package is Union Station. Special studies of its redevelopment and adaptation for multiple transport modes have been conducted and engineering design work and property development work was underway in 2006.
In May 2007, a $1.5 billion budget overrun was reported. Despite service and construction reductions, by January 2010 the budget had grown to $6.5 billion (a $1.8 billion overrun). Sales tax revenues are now projected to come in much less than originally anticipated to the point that the project is short $2.45 billion.
On April 13, 2010 the RTD board of directors decided to postpone asking voters to further increase the current sales tax until 2011 at the earliest. If the tax increase fails to be implemented, the full buildout of the FasTracks plan may not take place until 2042.
On 31 August 2011, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the US Department of Transportation had approved a $1 billion grant to the Eagle P3 project, which consists of the East and Gold commuter rail lines, covering half of the $2 billion cost of the construction of the two lines.
Economic Growth/Development 
|This section requires expansion. (September 2012)|
According to RTD (2012), when new development occurs near stations, it increases the likelihood that residents and workers will choose transit as their transportation mode. This reduces the growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and auto trips on a constrained roadway system while, at the same time, accommodating new growth.
RTD has conducted a Quality of Life (QoL) study for the neighborhoods’ impacted by FasTracks with baseline data collection starting in 2006 and continuing bi-annually to the present. The QoL study tracks a number of economic and community development indicators.
Impact on congestion claimed to be negligible: Anti-transit activist Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute wrote a paper titled "The Full Truth About FasTracks" prior to the ballot measure passing in November 2004. This paper contains many criticisms including predictions that FasTracks will have a negligible impact on congestion in the Denver metropolitan region.
Eminent Domain: Both Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District have used eminent domain to condemn properties in the path of transportation projects. While eminent domain, or the forcible, but market price compensated, taking of private property for a public good, is sometimes unavoidable, organizations such as the Colorado Property Rights Coalition and the Property Rights Project allege that government transit agencies have abused their condemnation powers in these ways:
Federal Station Relocation on the Gold Line: The Regional Transportation District (RTD), Adams County, and the Federal Transit Administration have also received criticism for a decision to relocate the Gold Line Federal Station from the east side to the west side of Federal. Critics maintain that RTD's decision to relocate the station to the less accessible west site, where parking is not as convenient and does not provide for expansion, was inappropriately influenced by proposed development on the west side.
However, supporters in surrounding neighborhoods and nearby Regis University backed the relocation because they regarded it as more accessible than the initial site on the east. Parking was just as convenient. Pedestrian and bike access was superior because the west site was directly accessed from the regional trail system. The west site was out of the flood plain and floodway of nearby Clear Creek, unlike the east site which was lower and on an undocumented landfill site that would RTD would have to spend up to an estimated $2 million to mitigate. And the proposed development was moving through the county’s public approval process with support from county commissioners.
The decision came after the final determination of preferred locations and completion of environmental studies and public comment processes. Critics maintain that the west site has not been properly studied for environmental or other impacts, and that the projects mismanagement will result in destruction of undisturbed ground in lieu of capitalizing on the opportunity to clean up previously improved lands. However, RTD showed that the west site was fully analyzed alongside the east during the environmental study in 2007-08, and had at least the same if not fewer impacts. Further, the west site was not "undisturbed ground" but in fact was raised fill on a previously used commercial business site.
Critics feel that the needs of the handicapped, elderly, and physically challenged are being neglected by moving the station. The distance one must travel from the proposed west side station is far greater than the distance one must travel on the planned and approved east side station. But RTD showed that the difference (570 feet vs. 450 feet from the nearest handicapped parking spot to the middle of the train platform) was 120 feet, comparable to many other stations in the system.
On December 15, 2010, RTD announced that the Federal Station would remain on the East Side of Federal and not be moved to the West Side. The Adams County Commissioners who had originally requested the change had withdrawn their support under pressure from residents of a subdivision near the west site who opposed the private developer’s plan to build higher-density housing and commercial buildings around the new station site.
See also 
- FasTrack's Cost Drop for 2010... accessed 01/16/2010
- RTD is 'starting out West' > About Town > Stories > Lakewood > YourHub.com
- "Transportation project more than a billion dollars over budget". 9news.com. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
- Regional Transport District. "Northwest Corridor FAQ". Regional Transport District. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Whaley, Monte (08/10/2012). "RTD officials face legislative grilling over commuter rail delay". The Denver Post. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Whaley, Monte (02/04/2013). "RTD foots bill for study of northwest transit system, cities sign on". The Denver Post. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- "Eagle P3 Commuter Rail Project, Denver, USA". Railway Technology. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- FasTracks Home
- "2010-10-01". Retrieved 2010-10-05.
- "Fastracks Gold Line To Wheat Ridge Approved". The Denver Channel. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- FasTracks' cost drop for 2010... Accessed 01/16/2010
- Leib, Jeffrey (April 14, 2010). "RTD decides not to seek FasTracks tax hike this year". Denver Post. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- "USDOT provides $1 billion for Denver RTD's Eagle P3 commuter-rail project". Progressive Railroading. 1 September 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- Regional Transportation District of Denver. (2012). 2010 FasTracks Quality of Life Detailed Report. 1-86.
-  Regional Transportation District. (2011). 2009 Quality of Life Study Now Available. Retrieved from http://www.rtd-fastracks.com/main_199
- The Full Truth About FasTracks
- Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District use of eminent domain
- The Human Cost of FasTracks
- Parts shop doomed as RTD asserts rights
- RTD FasTracks Derails an American Dream
- RTD won't move station planned for east side of Federal to west side
- Official Website, and map
- Light Rail advocacy group
- Colorado rail advocacy group with local links and documents.
- Union Station advocacy site
- DRCOG, a resource for FasTracks TOD plans, news and research.
- Transit Alliance, Coalition of local governments, business associations and citizen groups.