RTD will shut down the L line for two months in the spring

The shut-down will allow for construction on part of the light rail that sees the most collisions.
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An RTD train on Welton Street, May 22, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Updated Nov. 15, 2022 following RTD board's vote.

RTD will shut down the part of the L line that runs along Welton St. for two months between April and June of 2023 to implement improved safety measures and repairs. No start or end dates have been set.

The Welton St. section of the L Line is the light rail system's most dangerous corridor, according to an RTD report.

"The segment from 21st Street to 30th Street and Downing Street has experienced the highest number of accidents of any corridor in the light rail system, with 63 accidents occurring between 2012 to 2021," the report reads.

The RTD board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a contract for the repairs and improvements.

The L line loops through downtown and runs from 30th and Downing to 16th and Stout. The shutdown will affect the part of the line down Welton St., between 20th and 30th Streets.

Some 36,000 riders used the L Line in August of this year.

RTD will route passengers to the 43 bus line, which runs parallel to the L at a similar frequency.

RTD has not yet decided if it would increase 43 service during the shut-down, and is still working on a communications plan to notify riders of service changes.

Henry Brown lives in the area and rides the L regularly. "It'd be an inconvenience," Brown said. "This is more convenient for people up and down Welton St., it's easier access to get to these little stores and businesses."

The construction will update and add signage along with other warning devices around train signals, which RTD has not updated since the line opened in 1994. RTD will also update cables and other old hardware, and the city will use the closure as a chance to do drainage repairs.

It wouldn't be the first shut-down. In 2021, RTD closed the line for around two weeks to replace tracks in 2021.

"The equipment being replaced is past its useful life and is no longer serviceable, with spare parts being difficult to obtain or no longer available," wrote RTD in its report.

The project will cost around $5.2 million, with the money allocated in the 2022 budget.

RTD first proposed the project in 2020, with cost estimates between $2.7 to $4.8 million. Officials say the cost increase comes from the decision to expand the scope of the repairs, once they realized the line would have to shut down to complete the work.

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