Westminster getting commuter rail, but others on the Front Range still waiting

Next Monday, RTD will celebrate the beginning of its biggest line, the B line, with the opening of the Westminster Station.

staff photo
An RTD train parked at the end of the line in Five Points.  train; rtd; rail; transportation; denverite; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty

An RTD train parked at the end of the line in Five Points.

Next Monday, RTD will celebrate the beginning of its biggest line, the B line, with the opening of the Westminster Station. Elsewhere around the Front Range, the reaction is mixed.

To understand that, go back to 2004. That’s when voters approved the transit expansion program known as Fastracks. Back then, RTD assured people that a commuter line to Longmont, the B line, would open “all by 2017.”

But here we are in 2016 and only one of the original planned seven stations is about open. Six miles of a planned 41 mile line. Roughly 15 percent of the total.

But don’t lose sight of the fact that a new rail line is opening. Westminster isn’t.

The city’s Economic Development Director John Hall told the Denver Post that the station means a chance to move beyond a “first-rate suburb” to being a “retail and job center.”

The 15 to 20 year plan to get there includes a 50-acre public park, six to eight story buildings and 70 units of affordable housing.

Longmont and others will be waiting until 2030… at least.

The earliest possible finish for the B line is 2030, RTD General Manager Dave Genova told the Post, and that’s being optimistic.

How did RTD move from a 2017 deadline to a 2030 deadline?

Construction costs went up and the agency doesn’t have the money, RTD Spokesperson Nate Currey told Colorado Public Radio. Plus, since the commuter rail will share tracks with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe, it get complicated.

Currey does have one silver-ish lining: It will get built eventually. RTD is obligated to build it.