RTD considers notice of default to N Line contractor

Regional Rail Partners continues to miss project milestones

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is considering issuing a formal notice of default to the N Line design-build contractor, Regional Rail Partners (RRP) – a joint venture of Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure and Graham Contracting – due to the contractor’s continued delays in meeting project milestones and inability to fulfill its contractual obligations.

Various civil, systems and guideway construction items on the forthcoming electrified commuter rail line have not been completed, and the contractor has yet to reach substantial completion on the project and turn the corridor over to RTD. The contractor has failed to meet several target dates for project turnover, the latest being Feb. 3, and the project schedule continues to be affected.

RTD expects Balfour Beatty and Graham to complete their work under the contract. In a recent discussion between RTD and contractor officials, RRP indicated they are committed to dedicating the resources necessary to complete the project as soon as possible. If they do not, RTD is prepared to file the notice.

“The fact that this project is still not complete is completely unacceptable and frustrating to not only us at RTD, but to our stakeholders and the public we serve,” said Angie Rivera-Malpiede, chair of the RTD Board of Directors. “We’re concerned, but plan to work toward a swift solution.”

The N Line broke ground nearly six years ago, in March 2014, and was scheduled to open in 2018. However, the project encountered a number of issues, delaying the opening.

“We’ll be meeting with the contractor team again next week to hear how they plan to deliver their remaining work and we plan to hold them accountable,” said Heather McKillop, RTD’s acting interim general manager and CEO. “While we’ve had some challenges on this project, it’s time to get it done and opened to the public.”

Once construction, operator training, and integrated testing are complete, RTD will then be able to set a date to open the N Line. Previously, RTD stated that the May or August service change time periods are the next opportunities to open the line. With the most recent delays, RTD will not be able to open the line as part of the May service change.

The entire 18.5-mile N Line is part of FasTracks, RTD’s 2004 voter-approved, multibillion-dollar transit expansion plan for the metro Denver region. The 13-mile section that is currently funded extends from Denver Union Station to Eastlake-124th Station, in Thornton. The N Line now includes six new stations in Denver, Commerce City, Thornton and Northglenn, with parking spaces for 2,480 vehicles. Travel time from Union Station to the current end-of-line station will be 29 minutes, with trains operating every 20 minutes during morning and evening rush hours on weekdays and every 30 minutes during all other times.

When the N Line is complete, it will reach North Adams County and include two additional stations, for a total of eight new stations. The remaining 5.5 miles of the corridor will be built as funds become available.