Sunday, June 10, 2012

Northwest Rail Line Delay Upsetting and Disappointing

For those people living in or commuting to Boulder County, Broomfield and Westminster, the "perfect storm" of sales tax revenue shortfalls (due to the Great Recession) and higher than budgeted for costs ($1.7B versus original $461M estimate), which have contributed to a potential multi-decade delay on the construction of the Northwest Corridor Rail Line (to 2042 from 2016), there is legitimate anger, disappointment and cynicism. 
Image from RTD

Taxpayers in the Northwest Corridor (Longmont, Boulder, Louisville, Superior, Broomfield and other places) have been paying an extra .4% of sales tax into the FasTracks revenue pot since 2005 helping to jump start planning and construction for other rail lines while the possibility of their rail line has receded into a murky, uncertain and distant future.  Boulder County voters want to stick to the commuter rail plan and are pushing RTD for guarantees about delivery and timing.  Commuters along US 36 have been underwhelmed by the prospects for Bus Rapid Transit Improvements along the US 36 Corridor from Boulder to Denver.  Voters, commuters, and taxpayers are cranky and there is a general sense of discontent, discouragement and distaste about the process and the outcome.

While these are all valid responses to the situation, its important to not lose sight of the concrete benefits that have come and are coming to commuters on the US 36 Corridor from the development of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.  These real, tangible, cumulative,ongoing benefits will promote mobility, regional economic vitality and can demonstrate the importance of transit infrastructure investments and ultimately help make the case for the importance of building the complementary Northwest Rail Line.

Over the next several months I will be writing a series of blog posts talking about BRT on the US 36 Corridor to explain what has happened, is happening and what the outcomes are and why this is important to the region.

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