Rail: It's Good for the Economy

March 31 2010, 1:59 PM

High-speed rail might have its share of naysayers, but they'll have to contend with a new study, which finds that the service is not only feasible along stretches of I-70 and I-25, it would also reap billions in economic benefit for the state. That's according to the Denver Business Journal, which notes the pros would outweigh the $21 billion costs of a system that could carry some 35 million passengers a year. One vision for the system would generate $33 billion through jobs, income, and higher property values. The study comes as Colorado receives federal stimulus money to examine ways to integrate high-speed rail with Denver's FasTracks mass-transit rail system. Unfortunately, RTD, which is carrying out the FasTracks plan, appears to have a hole in its pocket. Some state lawmakers claim RTD squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay and benefits on its former general manager, Cal Marsella, who resigned last summer after 14 years.

An audit found that Marsella received more than $725,000 in compensation during his last seven months on the job. That included nearly $270,000 for unused vacation and sick leave, reports CBS4. He also got two-and-a-half years of pension credit for every year he worked---35 years' credit for 14 years on the job---meaning the value of his pension more than doubled, to nearly $3 million.  A legislative committee has voted to ask Marsella to return the $1.3 million payout he received, notes The Denver Post. What's the big picture on rail in the future? 5280 senior associate editor Patrick Doyle recently explored that question, predicting the rise of transit-oriented housing developments.