One option is to continue focusing on the Northwest Rail Line, which would be completed by 2024 at current cost estimates. A second option would abandon the rail plan and shift more than $890 million in resources toward providing improved bus service between Denver and the Boulder/Longmont areas. A third option would provide temporary improved bus services and further delay development of the rail line.
If a tax is not put on the ballot, or if it is but fails, RTD would push ahead with the entire FasTracks system -- but it would not be completed until 2042. "That's why we are looking at these other options and what makes sense," Tonilas said.
A tough sell Appelbaum, the Boulder mayor, said he's skeptical about the alternatives. "So far, our approach has been that we need to make sure that the corridor gets its fair share of the FasTracks dollars, which, of course, we have not gotten," he said. "If alternatives are proposed, the reality is we are not going to know all the costs... before this goes on the ballot." Carl Castillo, Boulder's policy adviser, said he thinks that any alternative likely would be a tough sell to cities that have been made promises of rail service.
"It's going to be very tough for cities that have expected a train, and to have it sooner than later, to consider anything shorter than that," Castillo said. "I think we all agree that the train is a very important complement to the (bus-rapid-transit) system." Councilman George Karakehian said that, if alternatives must be considered, Boulder needs to get assurances that the city will benefit from them before getting behind a ballot measure.
"I think that we have to be in this and we have to be named (so) that, in fact if this passes... we get our share," he said. "Boulder jumped behind this almost more than anyone. I would hate to see it happen again, and then decide to spend the money on I-70." 'We're just hosed' Tonilas, the FasTracks spokeswoman, said that having Boulder's support for a ballot measure is important, but the city is not the only voice to consider.
"Everybody's important in order to pass this," she said. "It's really something we have to look at as... a combined region." Councilwoman KC Becker said that's a big problem for RTD, which she said is in the position of having to "promise so much to so many people."
"I look at this and I think, 'Oh my gosh, we're just hosed,'" she said. Boulder is hardly the only city fretting over the future of FasTracks. Earlier this month, the Longmont City Council blasted RTD for the ballooning costs and lack of progress. Longmont Councilwoman Katie Witt said she also thinks Boulder County will be critical to passing a tax measure.
"Something we're going to need to be talking about is how to force accountability from RTD," she said. "There is nothing we can do to make them fulfill their promises. So yes, they're going to need to have all their stakeholders on board. "So far, I don't know if they have them." Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Leana Krueger, of Westminster, gets off the bus from Boulder on Thursday at the Broomfield park-n-Ride station along U.S. 36. Boulder officials are hoping to get assurances the U.S. 36 corridor and the Northwest Rail Line to Boulder and Longmont would get a fair share of future FasTracks money should RTD seek a sales-tax increase this fall.
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