U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently toured Denver's West Rail Line project, which will improve access to major employers and area universities while reducing traffic in a highly congested corridor.
The 12-mile project created more than 500 construction-related jobs, according to the Denver Regional Transportation District.
Secretary LaHood's visit follows President Obama's State of the Union address, in which he called for using funds saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down the debt and to support a transportation bill that would clear the way for "nation-building" in the U.S.
At the West Line project, Secretary LaHood also spoke about the importance of continuing to fund transit projects nationwide, in the wake of recent efforts in the House to remove a primary source of funding for transit systems.
The West Rail Line, now 85% complete, is expected to open in May 2013. Roughly half of the $709.8 million for the project is funded by the Federal Transit Administration, including a $308 million federal funding agreement awarded in January 2009.
When the Denver Regional Transportation District opens the West Rail Line next year, it will be the first completed leg of Denver's comprehensive multibillion-dollar transit expansion plan, known as FasTracks. FasTracks will add 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail and 18 miles of bus rapid transit across the eight-county district.