DALLAS — Colorado's Regional Transportation District could expect to spend about $1.4 billion for an extension of its FasTracks rail line to suburbs northwest of Denver, according to a study released Monday.
The 58-mile line would run from downtown Denver to Westminster, Boulder and Longmont and would take about 30 years to complete.
RTD is expanding its FasTracks light rail system throughout the Denver metro area under a $7.9 billion program whose costs have exceeded forecasts. While rail lines have been added to the east and west, the northwest suburbs have chafed at delays in beginning construction.
The Northwest Area Mobility Study released this week puts the estimated cost of the northwest segment between $1.16 and $1.4 billion.
"We still have a lot of work to do to evaluate all of the benefits and impacts of the alternatives under consideration," said Chris Quinn, RTD project manager for the study. "We need to collectively understand the full picture in order to develop consensus on the best path forward for the northwest area."
The Northwest Area Mobility Study began in Spring 2013 with a goal of developing consensus between RTD and northwest area stakeholders. The study is analyzing a set of transit alternatives that could bring commuter rail or other transit improvements to northwest communities sooner than current projections for the completion of the Northwest Rail Line to Longmont.
While RTD would need additional sales tax revenue to finance the rail system as originally proposed, board members have been loathe to call an election amid recession and political polarization.
A statewide transportation sales tax measure expected to appear on the November 2014 ballot could benefit RTD's Northwest Rail. The measure is being proposed by a consortium of regional organizations in the state, known as MPACT64.
The tax would be a 0.7 cent sales tax, of which one third would go to fund transit projects in Colorado. RTD would receive 60% of the revenue, estimated to be $100 million to $120 million a year for 15 years.
RTD's tax-supported debt carries ratings of AA-plus from Standard & Poor's, Aa2 from Moody's Investors Service, and AA from Fitch Ratings. Outlooks are stable.