A new push for reaching Longmont via North Corridor, instead of NW Corridor, to avoid the astronomical increases in cost being slapped at RTD by BNSF:
North rail line gains Longmont support
By Dallas Heltzell October 12, 2012
LONGMONT – New attention is being given to a proposal to bring commuter rail to Longmont sooner and less expensive.
The Longmont City Council voted 7-0 on Oct. 2 to recommend that the Regional Transportation District extend a FasTracks line to Longmont via a route that would bypass Boulder — but also bypass the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway’s steep cost for right-of-way.
The council’s resolution attached two caveats. It wants the new rail idea to come with no additional tax increase, and it wants RTD to consider improving bus service to and from Longmont along the Interstate 25, U.S. Highway 287 and Colorado Highway 119 (Diagonal Highway) corridors.
RTD’s current FasTracks plan includes an 18-mile rail line which would stretch north from downtown Denver and run parallel to I-25 through Thornton and Northglenn to 162nd Street. If that line were to be extended to Longmont, it would have to pass through Weld County, which is not part of the transportation district. However, some Denver-to-Longmont regional express bus routes already run through Weld.
In the original FasTracks plan, Longmont was to be reached by commuter rail via a 41-mile northwest line running from downtown Denver along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor, then north along the eastern edge of Boulder and northeast to Longmont along existing BNSF tracks which parallel the Diagonal Highway. When the FasTracks tax issue first went to voters in 2004, BNSF told RTD the cost for using its tracks between Westminster and Longmont would be around $66 million. However, at a meeting in October 2011 in Chicago, BNSF told RTD it wanted $535 million – up front.
That stunning news and other cost issues, coupled with a severe economic slump, pushed RTD’s timeline for completion of the line from 2016 back to as late as 2044, and the total estimated cost from $461 million to at least $1.7 billion...
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Several months ago, before this was even being considered, I drew up a plan which basically proposes exactly what they will study now. Commuter rail to Longmont via an extension of the North Corridor and then an expanded BRT network hubbed out of Boulder.