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Denver RTD Generating Innovative Ideas to Fuel Expansion

Posted on April 24, 2013 by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

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The first portion of RTD’s FasTracks program, the West Line light rail line, will debut late April.
The first portion of RTD’s FasTracks program, the West Line light rail line, will debut late April.
Creative funding
One of the first of several initiatives the agency pursued was a public-private partnership to help fund its East and Gold Line commuter rail projects (Eagle P3). Other FasTrack projects, such as the North Metro Commuter Rail Line and RTD’s bus rapid transit project, will benefit from creative funding in the form of the FasTracks Internal Savings Account. This account would pool together funds from several internal actions such as pursuing additional sales tax revenue.

To that end, the RTD is awaiting the outcome of a new bill that would allow the agency to have parity with the state to tax items such as candy, soft drinks and cigarettes — items already taxed by the state. If passed, the bill would raise an additional $2.7 million annually, which would help fund the FasTracks commuter rail project.

Additionally, a consulting firm was brought in to look at the agency’s assets for revenue generating opportunities.

“We want them to determine where it makes sense to sell naming rights to stations, those kinds of things,” Washington says.

Maximizing the value of its assets was also the goal behind the development of the T3 (Transformation through Transportation) industry forum held in fall of 2011. Top executives from engineering, construction, financial and tech firms from around the world took part in the event.

“We brought in big businesses and players from all over the world,” Washington says. “We laid out our program plans and asked them to come in with their ideas and help us. Not just to build new infrastructure, but to look at our existing assets and tell us how we can maximize the value of what we have.”

To enhance the idea submission process, the RTD revised their unsolicited proposal policy. Since the forum, RTD received several unsolicited proposals, which resulted in being able to complete the I-225 Rail Line corridor by 2016.

“We are in the process of being able to push another project forward [the North Metro Rail Line] through this process,” Washington says.

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