For the fourth time, the Federal Railroad Administration gave RTD more time to fix issues with the crossing gates on the A and B Lines. This issue has dogged the lines since the A Line opening more than a year ago.
Except, RTD thinks the problem has been resolved. Less than a week before the FRA waiver allowing the lines to operate expired, RTD filed a letter to the FRA requesting the waiver “no longer be required.”
The reason: Denver Transit Partners, RTD’s private partner on the project, “has assured us that the crossing systems are operating in compliance with Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 234, Grade Crossing Safety,” RTD wrote in the letter, citing the results of recent inspections.
But one day after saying the crossing systems are in order, RTD asked for a waiver extension. Huh? What happened in those 24 hours? Agency spokesperson Scott Reed explains:
“It’s our opinion that we are where we need to be, but we have the full recognition that the FRA controls the process and it has to be satisfied that in fact we do meet all their requirements.”
And because RTD didn’t want to make any assumptions about how quickly FRA could decide whether the waiver is still needed, RTD also needed to file for a waiver extension.
“We fully realized that the FRA would likely not be able to come back and give us a immediate response and that’s why we needed to request the extension of the waivers for the two lines,” Reed said.
The FRA granted an extension to RTD two days after receiving their request, in part on the basis of “improvements to date toward the goal of the crossing functioning per the designated warning times.”
Reed said that he cannot predict quickly the FRA will decide whether or not RTD is correct in its belief that crossing issues have been resolved. It’s also worth noting that RTD said in April that it thought the issues were solved, but federal approval has proved elusive.
Progress on the A Line would also be good news for the G Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge. The feds have said that the G Line can’t open until the A Line is fixed.