Longmont to RTD: Build north rail line
The council's resolution attached two caveats. It wants the new rail idea to come with no additional tax increase, and it wants RTD to consider improving bus service to and from Longmont along the Interstate 25, U.S. Highway 287 and Colorado Highway 119 (Diagonal Highway) corridors.
RTD's current FasTracks plan includes an 18-mile rail line which would stretch north from downtown Denver through Thornton and Northglenn. If that line were to be extended to Longmont, it would have to pass through Weld County, which is not part of the transportation district. However, some Denver-to-Longmont regional express bus routes already run through Weld.
The original FasTracks plan includes a 41-mile northwest commuter-rail line running from downtown Denver along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor, then north along the eastern edge of Boulder and northeast to Longmont along existing BNSF tracks which parallel the Diagonal Highway. When the FasTracks tax issue first went to voters in 2004, BNSF told RTD the cost for using its tracks between Westminster and Longmont would be around $66 million. However, at a meeting in October 2011 in Chicago, BNSF told RTD it wanted $535 million - up front.
That stunning news and other cost issues, coupled with a severe economic slump, pushed RTD's timeline for completion of the line from 2016 back to 2044, and the total estimated cost from $461 million to $1.7 billion.
Longmont also is in conversation with cities to its north, including Loveland and Fort Collins, about connections that could tie the Denver rapid-transit system through Longmont to rail serving northern Colorado. FLEX buses, operated by the city of Fort Collins' TransFort system, already connect Longmont and the RTD system with Berthoud, Loveland and Fort Collins.
If the rail line to Longmont were routed north along I-25 instead of via U.S. 36 and the Diagonal, a districtwide ballot issue would be required to gain voter approval of the change.
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