How FasTracks Continues to Get Derailed

July 6 2009, 8:55 AM
Just days after it was reported that Denver International Airport was planning to construct a rail station, dreams of turning the Front Range into a rail haven are turning into a nightmare. As outgoing Regional Transportation District General Manager Cal Marsella tells The Denver Post of the extensive FasTracks plan--first approved by voters in 2004--that the price of steel, copper, concrete, and other construction necessities have skyrocketed. Add the recession, which has put a hole in the sales-tax bucket, and critics like Jon Caldara, of the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute, are smugly in I-told-you-so territory. "These guys knew there was no way they could get this done. It was a way to get the community pregnant and then put a gun to our heads," Caldara says. An analysis by the Post found the $7 billion project faces numerous challenges that could delay the promised 12-year build-out by decades. For example, rather than err on the conservative side when it came to projecting sales-tax revenues, RTD used "relatively aggressive projections." Columnist Noel Black, meanwhile, has faith in rail, writing that Colorado Springs should learn from other cities around the nation and get a line running to Denver (via the Colorado Springs Gazette).