Jan. 7--Rocky Mountain Rail Inc., which says it has a "sustainable transportation plan" for passenger rail service between Westminster and Longmont, has scheduled a series of public forums over the coming weeks to present its proposal.
The forums -- starting with one in Broomfield on Thursday night and concluding with one in Longmont on Feb. 12 -- will be in cities along the Northwest Rail corridor that long has been on Regional Transportation District maps as the eventual route for passenger trains between Denver and Longmont.
Rocky Mountain Rail is not affiliated with or funded by RTD or any of the cities or counties along that corridor, but stated in a news release that it has developed a proposal to complete the Northwest commuter rail line by 2025.
The corporation submitted its proposal in November for RTD's review and is awaiting the public transit agency's response, Rocky Mountain Rail spokesman R. Paul Williamson said Monday.
"We do have to get the blessing of RTD in order to operate within their jurisdiction," he said, as well as agreements from at least some of the cities along the proposed route.
The Northwest Rail line is eventually supposed to be a 35-mile extension of RTD's 6.2-mile B Line, which began providing passenger service between south Westminster and Denver's Union Station in 2016.
RTD officials in July estimated it could cost $1.5 billion to build that final passenger rail extension and said new funding -- above what's being collected throughout the transit agency district from the 0.4% FasTracks sales tax voters approved in 2004 -- would need to be found if the corridor has any hope of being completed before 2050.
Rocky Mountain Rail CEO Bob Briggs said Monday the corporation estimates it could be completed for $1.1 billion.
Local government officials have been working with RTD on the possibility of providing limited "peak service" morning and evening commuter passenger train trips between Westminster and Longmont, something they've argued could be afforded and accomplished much earlier than 2050 before expanding to all-day train service.
Rocky Mountain Rail in its news release said its plan for northwest commuter rail "sets its sights on the purchase of needed right-of-ways, installing 16 Community Opportunity Center Stations, and providing express, limited express and local service from Denver's Union Station to/from all the communities -- Westminster to Longmont."
Briggs said a city might have more than one station and that full express service would be between that city's main station and Union Station in Denver. He said limited service might be just between the stations within a single community, while limited express would serve the participating cities' main stations.
Rocky Mountain Rail said its work on completing the Northwest Rail line that was in the RTD's original FasTracks plan voters approved in 2004, "will be initiated upon completion of an agreement with RTD, establishing a regional Intergovernmental Agreement and issuing non-tax revenue bonds to finance the project."
It said its proposal schedules a 2025 completion of the project.
Williamson said Monday the plan includes construction of new tracks alongside the BNSF tracks RTD had planned on improving and leasing for its passenger trains, with Rocky Mountain Rail running passenger service on the new tracks and BNSF using its existing tracks to continue to haul freight and coal.
Briggs said another option would be to move much of the existing freight train traffic to new and future tracks on Colorado's eastern plains, with Rocky Mountain Rail buying the tracks from BNSF for passenger service.
Williamson said the revenue bonds to finance the project would be repaid by fares collected from passengers boarding trains at stations in communities participating in agreements with Rocky Mountain Rail.
Cities that don't participate in the funding agreements wouldn't have stations served by Rocky Mountain Rail, Briggs said.
Longmont Transportation Planning Manager Phil Greenwald said he met with Rocky Mountain Rail representatives about their proposal.
While Longmont has made no commitment to Rocky Mountain Rail, "we're open to ideas that would allow us to complete FasTracks," Greenwald said.
Briggs said, "The time is right for implementing sustainable, safe and highly connective modern rail."
Briggs, a former Westminster mayor pro tem and former RTD board member, in the Rocky Mountain Rail release said its approach to building and operating passenger rail service lines in Colorado and other states -- a region the corporation has said could eventually include Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska as well as Colorado -- would be a "cost-effective, high-efficiency, non-polluting, and battery-powered alternative" and would use "cutting edge solutions to transportation congestion" by using a "green-power-generated storage and transmission system."
That could include electric-powered, rather than diesel-powered trains if Rocky Mountain Rail ends up building its own tracks or buying BNSF tracks, Briggs said.
If you go
What: Rocky Mountain Rail Inc. community forums
When and Where:
-- 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Broomfield Public Library, 3 Community Park Road
-- 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22, Lafayette Public Library, 775 Baseline Road
-- 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 23, Louisville Public Library, 951 Spruce St.
-- 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 29, Westminster City Building, 4800 W. 92nd Ave.
-- 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 5, Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapaho Ave.
-- 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 12, Longmont Public Library, 409 Fourth Ave.
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