The Mile High City is consistently hailed as one of the best places to live in the United States—and who are we to argue? But with an additional 1.5 million people expected to move to the Front Range by 2035, our treasured lifestyle may be at risk. We dug through reams of city-planning documents, talked to dozens of Coloradans, and put together a vision for the future of our city. Now, it's time to make this vision a reality.
The Finished Line
FasTracks' expanding budget is worrisome, but not completing the rail system would come at a far greater cost.
Admittedly, the economists behind FasTracks screwed up. In 2004, they projected that six light-rail and commuter lines would cost $4.7 billion, and voters approved the funds for it. Unfortunately, the Great Recession crushed the FasTracks financial model, construction costs soared, and now RTD is short a whopping $2.3 billion to finish the project. The agency can either postpone the last lines to be built (the Northwest Rail Corridor, the North Metro line, and the I-225 line), or go back to the voters and ask for another tax increase.
Which is a shame, since the light-rail system has been a stunning success for the region, with ridership far outpacing original projections. Coloradans, it turns out, like public transportation, and aborting some planned lines shouldn't be an option. RTD needs to ask the voters for absolution and request an additional .02 to .04 percent in the existing sales tax—a mere 2 to 4 cents on every $10. Even amid the recession, voters seem to grasp the long-term wisdom of finishing the system: A January poll conducted by the Kenney Group showed that 63 percent of likely voters would support such a tax bump. Let's get building.