The big news of the day may be Yasser Arafat’s death and President Bush’s selection of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, but the New York Times gives prominent space to Denver’s passing of the FasTracks initiative on Election Day. It seems we’ve finally moved from “cow town” to a city of the future.

“Outside of New York City, which is in a league by itself, this is the largest comprehensive program of expanding public transportation in the country.”

The $4.7 billion venture, to be paid for by sales tax revenue, was approved by 58 percent of the voters. There was a division though: Most of those in favor of the measure have lived in Colorado 15 years or less. Residents who have been here longer were not as supportive.

900,000 newcomers are expected in Colorado over the next 20 years. The program is designed to focus on where they are expected to settle–and to create residential urban hubs around the train stations as opposed to suburbs. And there’s the rub for long-time Colorado residents. According to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper,

…the approval of FasTracks was a mark of recognition that Denver’s future was to be shared among all the counties and communities of the region….It is also a nod, he said, to the idea that Denver’s future, in a way that might make older Coloradans quail, is undeniably, permanently urban — more akin to the big cities of the East and West Coasts than the prairie metropolis of old.

Hickenlooper says FasTracks is for urbanites who love trains. That sounds a lot more inviting than the “cow town of bawling freight yards” of yesteryear.