FasTracks Update

by Osman Parvez

Not a huge update, but RTD has unveiled a new website with additional information on the $4.7Bn FasTracks project. Worth a visit to sign up for the newsletter at a minimum. Here's the current frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the Northwest Corridor with an updated meeting schedule.

1. What is the Northwest Rail Corridor? 
The Northwest Rail Corridor is a proposed 38.1-mile commuter rail corridor from Denver Union Station to Longmont via Boulder, passing through Westminster, Broomfield, Superior, Louisville, Boulder, Niwot and Longmont. The line will operate along the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) line. 
2. What will the Northwest Rail Environmental Assessment (EA) study and accomplish? 
The Northwest Rail EA will identify the community and environmental impacts that may result from the construction and implementation of the new rail line and recommend ways of lessening those impacts. 
3. What will the Northwest Rail EA study?
 The Northwest Rail EA will study the recommended commuter rail line that will operate along the BNSF railroad. This study will build upon the work that was accomplished in the US 36 EIS and the Longmont Diagonal Environmental Evaluation, to identify specific potential community and environmental impacts and provide recommended ways to reduce those impacts. 
4. What has been decided? 
Through the previous studies, the decision has been made to build a commuter rail line along the existing BNSF railroad from Denver to Longmont, via Boulder. 
5. What is the schedule and when can the public participate? 
RTD will conduct extensive community outreach throughout the project. At each key decision-point of the project, public workshops will be held to ensure that the recommendations in the EA are reflective of what is best for the Northwest Rail Corridor communities. The timing of the EA decision-making process is as follows: 
Spring 2007 - Public workshops held to identify the scope of the study and alternatives to be evaluated. 
Summer 2007 - Conduct increasingly detailed evaluation of alternatives to eliminate flawed alternatives and identify those that best meet the mobility needs of the corridor with the least environmental impact (includes public workshops). 
Fall 2007 - Select a preferred alternative taking into account sensitive environmental resources and then undergo a very detailed level of analysis including advanced engineering (includes public workshops). 
Fall 2007 - Advance engineering on the preferred alternative to identify the impacts that may be caused by the project's implementation and recommendations to mitigate those impacts. 
Fall 2007 - Publish the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA), a detailed report summarizing the impacts of the recommended alternative and the proposed methods to mitigate them, followed by a 30-day public comment period (includes public meetings). 
Early 2008 - Finalize EA for the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is anticipated to result in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). 
6. Are public meetings the only time the public can submit input?
 No. Although the public meetings provide great opportunities to interact with the project team and become better informed about the EA, public input also can be submitted in writing to Chris Quinn, RTD-FasTracks, 1560 Broadway #700, Denver, CO 80202, or via the project Website.

Additional Info:
From time to time I do a search to see if there's anything new happening with this project. Here's a couple of tidbits...

If you're into the project and have information to share, you may wish to contribute information to the new Wikipedia entry. There's also a new petition to stop the station from being built at 144th in Thornton.

Image: Maessive

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