DALLAS — Colorado’s Regional Transportation District will not seek voter approval of a sales tax increase in November that would allow completion of the FasTracks rail and bus system on its current schedule.
“The RTD board realizes that while economic conditions are slowly but steadily improving in the Denver metro area, the timing is not right for a 2012 ballot initiative,” said RTD board chair Lee Kemp. “We remain committed to continuing to work with our regional partners to complete FasTracks sooner rather than later.”
RTD evaluated technical, financial and economic information, and input from regional stakeholders and the general public before making the decision, the district said.
Voters in the Denver area approved the original 0.4% sales tax increase to finance the $4.7 billion FasTracks system in 2004.
FasTracks was designed to add 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, and 21,000 parking spaces to RTD’s existing system. The centerpiece involved redevelopment of downtown Denver’s Union Station as a hub for rail lines, including the Gold Line commuter rail link to Denver International Airport.
When estimates of the total FasTracks project’s cost rose beyond previous estimates, RTD board members faced a decision of whether to delay some segments or seek a tax increase to complete the project by its 2017 target date.
Over the past two years, the RTD board has planned ballot initiatives seeking an increase in the sales tax, then backed off because of the recession and anticipated anti-tax movements.
The latest decision leaves a proposed $400 million commuter rail link to Denver’s northwestern suburbs in limbo.