Contact: Allison Lantero
DENVER – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today applauded the grand opening of the new 12.1-mile West Rail line, the first light rail line that is part of the Denver Regional Transit District’s (RTD) multibillion-dollar transit expansion plan known as FasTracks. Roughly half of the $709.8 million West Rail Line project is funded by the Department’s Federal Transit Administration through a $308.7 million federal construction grant agreement awarded in 2009 and other U.S. Department of Transportation funds.
“The Obama Administration has made a significant commitment to invest in a public transportation network that helps millions of families, seniors, veterans and others living in the greater Denver region to access the jobs and services they need to participate in their communities,” said Secretary LaHood. “Bringing good transportation projects like this one to Denver and to cities across the nation, creates jobs and strengthens our economy.”
Secretary LaHood toured the project last year while it was under construction.
The West Line stations include stops near employment hubs like Denver Federal Center and Jefferson County Government Center as well as the Auraria Higher Education Campus and Red Rocks Community College, which together serve over 50,000 students. In addition, St. Anthony’s Hospital recently relocated in part to be closer to the new transit line, offering medical professionals and patients the opportunity to park at one of six new park-and-ride lots along the route and then hop aboard the light rail.
“The opening of the West Rail line brings Denver a step closer to delivering on its promise to provide hundreds of thousands of riders in one of the nation’s fastest growing cities a truly world-class public transportation system,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Hard-working families, students, and seniors alike can spend less time in traffic and less money at the pump.”
The FasTracks expansion plan will add 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail and 18 miles of bus rapid transit across the eight-county district to help Denver successfully manage growth and compete for business for years to come.
Other FasTracks projects the Obama Administration has helped fund include a $1 billion agreement signed in August 2011 for the Eagle P3, a 30-mile commuter rail project that will provide the city’s first transit connection to Denver International Airport and put an estimated 4,700 people to work. The Administration has also provided funding from a number of sources for the restoration of Denver’s historic Union Station, the centerpiece of FasTracks, including $28.4 million from the Recovery Act, $59.5 million in other federal grants, and more than $300 million in federal loans.
The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Regional Administrator Linda Gehrke joined Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Senator Michael Bennet, and local officials at the event.