The Regional Transportation District (RTD) broke ground this morning on the Northwest Rail Line’s Westminster Segment, the third FasTracks commuter rail line to get underway as part of the innovative Eagle P3 Project.
View pictures of the event.
The first segment of the Northwest Rail Line runs six miles between Denver Union Station and the planned Westminster Station, located in South Westminster near 71st Avenue and Irving Street. The Northwest Rail Line, approved by voters in 2004 as part of the overall FasTracks system, continues through Westminster to Boulder and Longmont. The Westminster Station and rail line is part of the $2.1 billion Eagle P3 Project, a 34-year public-private partnership with Denver Transit Partners to build, operate, maintain and privately finance the FasTracks commuter rail system. It is under full construction toward a 2016 opening and includes the East Rail Line to Denver International Airport and the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge.
“We are breaking ground on more than just a rail line, we are planting the seeds for opportunities and growth for tomorrow,” said Lee Kemp, chair of the RTD Board of Directors. “The Northwest Rail Line will produce new jobs, both during construction and long after the line is completed.”
The start of work comes after RTD and the City of Westminster put the final touches on an intergovernmental agreement under which the city will invest additional money in the station area. Upgrades include a parking garage, enhanced accessibility and a community plaza. Westminster is capitalizing on the station location to revitalize this portion of South Westminster with plans for a transit-oriented development that includes a regional park made possible through flood control improvements along Little Dry Creek. Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally said the project will help revitalize the area where Westminster was settled more than 100 years ago.
“In addition to the commuter rail, a massive redevelopment will take place in this part of the city that will completely transform this neighborhood,” Mayor McNally said. “This 135-acre site will become a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood with a large community park and plenty of open space areas – a great place to live, work and play!”
The groundbreaking included six members of the public planting garden stakes in the holes dug by the speakers. But instead of tomatoes, beans or peppers, these garden stakes were labeled Mobility, Jobs, Connections, Community, Smart Growth and Quality of Life. That’s in keeping with the theme of “Planting Progress: Local Business, Local Jobs, Local People.”
“The history of Westminster is the story of apple and cherry orchards gracing these hills more than a century ago,” said Larry Hoy, RTD Director for District J, which includes Westminster. “Today, we’re going to have a planting for something different, but just as fruitful.”
FasTracks is a voter-approved rapid transit program that will build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, add 21,000 new parking spaces, redevelop Denver Union Station and redirect bus service to better connect the eight-county District. FasTracks is projected to create thousands of construction and related jobs during the height of construction and will pump billions of dollars into the regional economy over the next 20 years.
For more information about FasTracks, visit www.rtd-fastracks.com.