Still hope for light rail
I read with interest the letter from Steve Smith, on July 10, in which he questions the wisdom of building the bicycle trail on the former right of way of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. While I wholeheartedly agree with him, I feel I must point out that all is not lost when it comes to the future of transit in this valley.
Having myself worked for 40 years in a public way for the preservation of the right of way, I feel a certain amount of satisfaction in the mere fact that all 41 miles of it are now in public ownership. That the right of way is currently in use as a paved trail does not mean that it’s use for public transit is precluded in the future. The original purchase of the right of way required a vote up and down the valley, and that vote stipulated that the right of way could be used for a path as well as for transit. I have always believed that it was a mistake to include the path, because I feared that the path would become the use by default, which indeed it has. To Steve Smith, I say that many of us worked long and hard to convince RFTA not to tear up the rails. They would hear nothing of it, Steve. The arguments that you make were made over and over again in public meetings up and down the valley. We lost the argument.
Recently while in Denver, I had some time to kill, and so I thought I would ride the new light-rail line. I parked my car near the old Gates Rubber Company plant at I-25 and Broadway, and rode the light-rail train out to the end of the line in southeast Denver and subsequently back into downtown Denver and the terminus at Union Station. It’s a fun ride. The cars are clean and well designed. The main train stops have parking lots or parking structures, and RTD buses stop conveniently nearby. The rail cars were built by the German company Siemans, which is the company that demonstrated its Regio-Sprinter diesel-electric train set here in the valley a few years ago. Had we, like Denver, hired them to build us a light-rail system, it would be up and running now. Next time you are in Denver, try riding the light-rail system and see if you don’t agree with me that it’s what we ought to have here.
As to the question of not being able to afford a light-rail system, I say this: I just filled up my Subaru Outback, which had gotten very low on fuel, for $54.79. End of story.
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The city’s Burlingame Ranch development will be compete next year, after 79 pre-fab units are stitched together.