RTD listens to community

Citizen Advisory Committee talks about parking, extensions

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Sabrina Koehler wakes up early every morning to drive to the Littleton Mineral RTD Station. If she doesn’t get up early enough to arrive by 8 a.m., though, she is forced to drive to Broadway before she can finish her commute into Denver for work.

Koehler is like a lot of Highlands Ranch residents who ride RTD on a regular or daily basis. And with a wait list to purchase reserved parking in the lot, many in-district riders are not finding the conveniencethey hope for.

The message was heard loud and clear at the FasTracks Citizen Advisory Committee meeting March 20 at Southridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch.

One suggestion, which came from Englewood Mayor Pro Tem Jim Woodward, was that RTD could start working on parking issues prior to the construction of some lines that have been pushed to the back burner, setting up bus runs to lots that will serve future stations and alleviating some of the current parking issues.

For those who already opt to take the bus to the station, they are finding they are adding a half-hour to their commute, and all too frequently, the RTD buses arrive two minutes after their trains leave the station, causing them to wait even longer. That’s another issue that Susan Wood, RTD project manager, said will be looked at.

The Southwest Rail extension planned to go to Lucent and Plaza in Highlands Ranch will add 1,000 parking spots, but currently has notimeline for construction. And while RTD officials say they are continuing to look for funding to complete the project, residents such as Koehler are getting frustrated when they watch other FasTracks projects get completed first.

One example is the southeast extension from Lincoln toRidgegate, which is on the table. Officials say they hope to see that happen by 2014.

“When Children’s Hospital announced that it was coming in, I thought for sure that was going to be it,” Koehler said. “I was very surprised that one is getting done first.”

Kent Bagley, District H representative on the RTD board of directors, pointed out that a lot of big projects are happening right now within RTD, including the west line set for completion at the end of April and the Denver Union Station, which is the biggest public infrastructure project in the country.

“Everybody thinks theirs is the most important project,” he said.

Wood said there is a task force being put together to examine funding options for the southwest line, and design plans are already being studied.

“We will continue to look at any grant opportunities and pursue any funding that is available, whether it’s public, whether it’s private, whether it’s federal,” Wood said. “We are going to do as much as we can as fast as we can.”

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