Cherry Creek Perspective

February 18, 2017


The Regional Transportation District (RTD) started service on the R Line on Friday, Feb. 24 bringing light rail through the heart of Aurora. The new light rail R Line, known as the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail during construction, extends service from the existing Nine Mile Station north 10.5-miles to Peoria Station connecting to the University of Colorado A Line to Denver International Airport. The full R Line service will travel 22 miles from the Lincoln Station to Peoria Station. This project also extends RTD’s current H Line from Nine Mile to the new Florida Station. It is the fourth transit line RTD to open within the last fourteen months.

“The R Line is a signature project for RTD, the City of Aurora, and our region,” said RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova. “The line is significant in that it completes another important connection and mobility opportunity on the eastern side of the metro area, connecting commuters to important destinations throughout the line. RTD has successfully operated light rail trains for more than twenty years and being able to provide additional light rail service when the R Line opens is very exciting.” The R Line will connect riders to major activity centers like the Aurora Metro Center, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Children’s Hospital and the new Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital.

Designed in part to encourage an urban feel through Aurora’s city center, the R Line will provide access to numerous businesses, restaurants and government offices bringing new transportation and transit-oriented development options to the entire area. “Light rail will transform Aurora,” said Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan. “This is not just a train line running through a part of our community. This rail line traverses the core of the city. It will truly connect the entire metropolitan region to Aurora.” The R Line is part of RTD’s FasTracks 2004 voter-approved transit expansion plan to build new rail lines, add bus rapid transit service, new parking spaces, redevelop Denver Union Station and redirect bus service to better connect the eight-county District.

Getting where you want to go just got easier with RTD’s new Next Ride feature. Now you can quickly get next scheduled departure times from your stop, 24-hours a day, seven days a week by calling or visiting online. RTD’s new Next Ride utilizes real-time data to make accurate and timely predictions about the position and predicted arrival times for RTD vehicles district-wide. The beta release includes vehicle locations and predicted arrivals for buses, and vehicle locations only for all light rail lines. Information is not yet available for the A and B lines.

What is the picture of Denver’s transit service, access, and programs today? Who rides transit? What influences people to ride transit? What actions have other cities taken to demonstrate success in delivering local and regional transit service? These are a few of the questions addressed in the Denver Moves: Transit State of the System Report.

Denver Moves: Transit is Denver’s first transit plan that will look to create a local vision for new transit choices and improvements. The plan will examine how transit can play a key role in creating a successful mobility system that moves more people through our city as our population continues to grow. As part of Denveright, Denver Moves: Transit convenes community conversations to shape how mobility will evolve to meet the needs of those who live, work and play in Denver over the next 20 years. With about a year remaining in the process substantial progress has been accomplished in the first phase of the project. Denveright is a community-driven planning process in four key areas: land use, mobility, parks and recreational resources. Four coordinated citywide plans, will chart the course of the Mile High City for the next 20 years while also identifying immediate priorities to execute in the next few years.

Since project kick-off in mid-2016, the Denver Moves: Transit team, in coordination with Denveright, has attended community events, conducted surveys and stakeholder focus groups, and hosted a series of visioning workshop activities. Three key themes emerged about the kind of transit system the community wants: connected, high quality, and healthy. With about a year remaining in the Denver Moves: Transit plan development process plans to:

Inform the development of the Denveright vision and refining the Denver Moves: Transit goals and objectives
Coordinate with Blueprint Denver as they develop land use/transportation scenarios
Prepare to identify and prioritize corridors

Denver will be home to Rail~Volution 2017 from September 17 – 20. Rail~Volution is the premier livability, transit and transit-oriented development conference in the country. It is the only national conference that brings together practitioners from diverse sectors including government, transit, real estate, business, finance, environment and advocacy, bringing 1,400+ attendees who drive land-use and transit decisions in their communities. The conference is known for quality and diversity. Speakers and attendees include leading visionaries, practitioners, emerging leaders and community members who have a variety of experiences and backgrounds, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors with fresh ideas.

The Transit Alliance Citizen’s Academy is starting a new class. The Citizens’ Academy was founded in 2007 to educate and motivate community stakeholders by encouraging their involvement to advance transit, active transportation, and increased freedom of mobility in our communities. In a decade of Academy, over 800 leaders have graduated from the 7-week Citizens’ Academy and Community Workshops. The reach of the Academy has been enormous, with graduates serving in elected and appointed office and holding positions on community boards. A total of sixteen of Academy graduates are currently in elected office, ranging from RTD Board of Directors to School Boards, City Councils, County Commissions and the State Legislature.

What makes this leadership program nationally unique is that all participants are required to take what they’ve learned and create a six month action plan to advance mobility in their community. The Academy creates a roadmap for a community’s future by examining transportation, infrastructure, economic development, and preservation of the neighborhoods with the introduction of new investments in transit, biking and walking. The global outcome of the Academy is to create community leaders and advocates that understand the relationship between the infrastructure investments we make today and our communities’ development, prosperity and health of tomorrow.

Spring 2017 Citizens’ Academy Key Dates:
Application deadline: March 17th, 5pm
Citizens’ Academy: every Wednesday night, 6-9pm from April 5-May 17

Denver City Council Member Mary Beth Susman reports that the City Council held its annual policy and budget retreat charting key citywide priorities on which Council will focus next year. Among these priorities are mobility, housing, homelessness, solid waste plan, and workforce development. Chief among Susman’s priorities is establishing an Office of Mobility. “I believe Denver needs an agency whose primary mission is to analyze present and future innovative transit solutions and promote and/or provide convenient, inexpensive transit to underserved areas of Denver by partnering with public and private transit providers. Council will continue to work on expanding the city’s network of sidewalks, which is so critical to first- and last-mile connections of our neighborhoods. Additionally, Council advocated for fully building out the Denver Moves bicycle plan, paving unpaved alleys, improving access to and safety around pedestrian infrastructure, and fully funding recommendations from the Mayor’s Mobility Task Force.”

Real Estate

Council Member Susman also reports about the Upper Montclair Basin Study. The City of Denver and the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District are conducting an Outfall System Plan (OSP) Study of storm water management in the Montclair watershed. The Montclair drainage basin is over 9 square miles, and is Denver’s largest drainage basin without an open waterway. The basin is fairly flat and prone to flooding at certain key low points. The current storm water drainage system, which includes pipes and street capacity to convey water safely, needs to be improved in some key areas. The Montclair Basin has been identified as a priority basin for storm drainage improvements and has also been identified as a priority basin for water quality improvement. Modeling of the hydrology in the basin is up to date and complete. The Upper Montclair Basin includes Congress Park, South City Park, the south part of Park Hill, Hale, Montclair, Mayfair, Hilltop, Crestmoor, Fairmount Cemetery, and small portions of Washington Virginia Vale, and Lowry (west of Quebec). The study will look at drainage improvements in the near term, long-range drainage improvements, and a framework for resiliency in land use practices and green infrastructure.

Upcoming community meetings on flood and storm water management include:

Wednesday, March 1st, 5:30 – 7:00 pm at Palmer Elementary School located at 995 Grape Street in the Learning Lab-Room 119
Thursday, March 2nd, 5:30 – 7:00 pm at The Art Gym located at 1460 Leyden Street


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