August 26, 2010

Denver RTD breaks ground on commuter rail project


The groundbreaking ceremony was held at Denver International Airport (DIA) on the south lawn of the Jeppesen Terminal, the future site of the DIA rail station. Photo courtesy RTD Denver.


Denver's Regional Transportation District (RTD) broke ground today on the $1 billion East Corridor commuter rail line, the largest single rail project in the voter-approved FasTracks program. The groundbreaking ceremony was held at Denver International Airport (DIA) on the south lawn of the Jeppesen Terminal, the future site of the DIA rail station.
 
Federal and local officials participated in the ceremony, including Sen. Mark Udall, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer.
 
RTD Board Chair Lee Kemp told an audience of project stakeholders, elected officials and people watching via a live Webcast of the event that the progress marked by the start of work on the long-awaited train to the airport will boost the agency’s efforts to complete the entire $6.7 billion FasTracks program.
 
“The start of work on this ambitious design-build project represents one giant step in fulfilling the RTD board’s unwavering commitment to completing the entire FasTracks network,” Kemp said. “This is one major step forward in getting all of these corridors built.”
 
The East Corridor is part of the FasTracks Eagle P3 project, an innovative public-private partnership that also includes the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge and a segment of the Northwest Rail Corridor to south Westminster.

Phase 1 of the Eagle P3 project includes the East Corridor, a new commuter rail maintenance facility, design for the Gold Line and short segment of Northwest Rail, the purchase of Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) rail vehicles and the electrical systems at Denver Union Station. Phase 2, which will build out the Gold Line and short segment of the Northwest Rail Line, is scheduled to begin following the award of a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) by the FTA, anticipated in 2011.
 
Once the whole Eagle P3 project is under construction, the project is expected to create up to 5,000 jobs per year in 2012-13. This includes direct, indirect and induced jobs that branch out to the larger economy.
 
RTD GM Phil Washington said job creation is such a vital component of FasTracks that the agency is taking the lead to establish a regional workforce development program to train skilled workers as part of the project. He introduced three of the first candidates for the program called Regional Workforce Initiative Now.
 
“The Regional Workforce Initiative Now — WIN for short — is a program that will identify and train individuals to become skilled workers, utilize workers who are already trained but who are looking for work, help them find jobs, maintain jobs long-term and ultimately, create a more diverse workforce,” Washington said.
 
The contractor for the Eagle P3 project, Denver Transit Partners (DTP), has agreed to make some of the jobs available on the project available for the workforce program. DTP is an international consortium of constructors, designers, transit operators and financiers that will design and construct the project, and then operate and maintain the service under a 34-year contract. The consortium is led by construction giant Fluor Enterprises and infrastructure investors John Laing plc and Uberior Investments. The team also includes Balfour Beatty Rail Inc., Ames Construction, Alternate Concepts Inc. and HDR.
 
Those who attended the groundbreaking were given a colorful commemorative “VIP ticket to ride” in a plastic sleeve on a lanyard. Those who hold onto this memento until opening day in 2016 will be entitled not only to a ride on one of the first VIP trains to run from downtown Denver to DIA, but will also receive a souvenir gift marking opening day.
 
FasTracks is RTD’s voter-approved transit program to expand rail and bus service throughout the RTD service area. FasTracks will build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail and 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, add 21,000 new parking spaces, redevelop Denver Union Station and redirect bus service to better connect the eight-county District. The FasTracks investment initiative is projected to create more than 10,000 construction-related jobs during the height of construction and will pump billions of dollars into the regional economy.

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