Fastracks on the Fritz
In 2004 voters approved the “Fastracks” project, which would expand light rail and build heavy rail service to all corners of the Denver metro area including the airport, Boulder, and Longmont.
Unfortunately the initial price tag has ballooned up since ’04 due to construction costs, plus the transportation operator RTD is also facing criticism for abuses of the eminent domain law. RTD has right to commandeer land for rail stations and parking, but is also seizing additional surrounding land for private development. This I’m totally against. Transit Oriented Development is a huge real estate opportunity, however just because someone owns a junkyard next to the location of a future pretty station doesn’t mean his or her land should be stolen and sold into condos.
But that may never even become an issue because a political group run by Jon Caldera called the “Independence Institute,” is proposing a petition that would cease the entire RTD project completely. Hopefully this will not happen.
Although not featured on their home page anymore, (I’m guessing gas prices have something to do with this,) the Independence Institute promotes affordable car ownership for all, and is strongly against mass transit expansion and development. The Independence Institute has already been proven wrong with the success of the new southeast light rail lines, and after 1.5 years in operation the face of the tech center along the rail lines is starting to change with dense housing, TOD development, and more pedestrians and bikers in the area. By most accounts the Denver Tech Center is still is a boring swath of office parks, but people want to live close to viable and easy transportation, and the developing areas adjacent to the Tech Center Stations are proof of that. (But as noted above not without controversy.)
The Front Range of Colorado is growing and will continue to do so. We’ve waited too long already to establish regional rail service, and we’d be best served to start construction sooner rather than later. Keep abreast of this issue and if support Fastracks don’t let this happen.
Note the Independence Institute also supports limits on free speech.