Public involvement informs next steps for RTD’s Northwest Rail Peak Service Study
RTD’s Northwest Rail Peak Service Study concluded the third of five study milestones with a robust public involvement process and incorporation of public feedback that will inform proposals for service options, strategies and next steps.
The study is part of a continuing collaborative effort among RTD, local transportation partners and community stakeholders to identify and address mobility solutions for peak period service along the Northwest Rail alignment extending from Westminster Station to Boulder and Longmont. It advances the efforts toward RTD’s ongoing commitment to the FasTracks plan that includes commuter rail service from Denver Union Station to Boulder and terminating in Longmont.
Over a period of approximately 24 months that began in spring 2022, the study will identify requirements, costs and operational needs to upgrade existing track, develop rail stations and provide peak service to northwestern metropolitan communities, including Arvada, Westminster, Broomfield, Louisville, Boulder and Longmont.
The public was invited to weigh in on the study earlier this year through two in-person open houses – the first on Jan. 31 in Boulder and the second on Feb. 2 in Westminster – and a self-guided online public meeting that was hosted through the Northwest Rail Peak Service study webpage during a three-week period (Jan. 31-Feb. 21).
The public events were promoted in English and Spanish through local transportation partners, Study Advisory Team members and pop-up events along the corridor, as well as the study website, news stories and social media posts.
A total of 120 participants attended the Boulder open house, and there were 75 participants at the open house in Westminster.
The self-guided online public meeting incorporated the same content that was shared at the in-person open house events. This format allowed participants an alternate way to review the study information and provide feedback.
In all, 3,290 people viewed the RTD website, and 173 completed surveys related to the self-guided online meeting. In addition, 353 entries (e-mail sign-up and comments) were collected on the RTD Northwest Rail Peak Service Study website comment form. Input received by the community included the following comments:
“I am really excited about this project! Passenger rail would be huge for people like me that want to live here and commute to Denver.”
“Great plan to use existing rail and reduce carbon and cars on the roads!”
“This new rail between Longmont and Denver would be great! I live in Boulder, and the lack of public transportation across the Front Range combined with the traffic on US 36 and the Diagonal causes major problems for my commute. I highly support this plan and encourage more public transportation projects like this one.”
“I 100% believe that the Northwest Rail is the best option for decreasing traffic, decreasing pollution (trains are fueled on electricity versus buses on fossil fuels) and bolster more patrons to use RTD. Trains are faster and cleaner than the alternative, nothing but more gas-guzzling buses. Plus, it is not fair that all other cities got rail and we were promised a train over 15 years ago. Let's get this train ASAP!”
“Service connecting Broomfield to Boulder and Denver would be life-changing! My spouse and I have been looking for ways to reduce our dependence on cars. I know we’d use the service both to commute to Boulder (where we work) and take trips to downtown Denver, which we frequent for dining and shopping. Places like downtown Westminster and Longmont we’d also visit often using rail service.”
Most of the comments received have expressed neutral or positive feedback regarding the study. Most participants are in favor of peak service and are ready to see implementation. A handful of comments reflected on the importance of FasTracks commitments, station locations and additions, land use, construction and integrated service options for customers with non-traditional commute times.
The next steps for the study will be to explore service options and partnerships, with additional public outreach efforts planned for later this spring. Opportunities for public comment will be provided to inform the community about assessments and refined preliminary configuration relative to long-range plans. The study plans to wrap up option strategies and next steps in fall 2023.