RTD provides services, support in wake of Marshall Fire

Two words that don’t often appear together: winter wildfires. But these are what were seen last Thursday, Dec. 30, when hurricane-force winds of up to 110 mph drove a rapidly moving fire across dry landscapes in the northwest part of the region, including Superior, Louisville and parts of unincorporated Boulder County. 

When the Marshall Fire was completely contained this week, it had burned over 6,200 acres, destroyed nearly 1,000 structures and damaged 127 others. Tens of thousands of people were forced to quickly evacuate their homes, not knowing which way the winds would shift. Many of them are now looking at a new year completely different than they could have anticipated, having lost homes and needing to rebuild their lives.

As the fire burned out of control and visibility was reduced, transit service across a large area of the district was disrupted. Multiple bus routes operated on detours, and some were suspended. Three RTD Park-n-Ride facilities, including the 466-space US 36•McCaslin Boulevard Station Park-n-Ride in Superior, were affected. Parts of US 36, several local roads, businesses, homes and transit facilities became inaccessible to traffic. All available federal, state and local resources were called in to fight the fire and coordinate immediate evacuations.

Teams across RTD – including Bus Operations and Street Operations – remained responsive to need as the event unfolded. Colorado State Patrol, the city of Boulder, Boulder County, a behavioral health facility in Louisville and other agencies contacted RTD for help with evacuations and potential evacuations. Street Operations sent two buses to meet with the Colorado State Patrol to assist with evacuations from Balfour Senior Living in Louisville. Contract partners from First Transit and Via Mobility Services also sprang into action to help.

RTD supports the Boulder County community and stands ready to do all it can in support of the region. Operations has been working steadily to restore service in the area. One of the last routes to resume, Route 228, will again serve Louisville, Superior and Broomfield as of today, with service running on a detour due to road conditions. As of yesterday, RTD customers whose vehicles were parked at the US 36•McCaslin Park-n-Ride could retrieve them.

RTD realigned its resources to provide services and support to first responders, partner agencies and evacuees. The agency made transit passes available to firefighters and those impacted by the fire, and it modified its Superior and Louisville FlexRide service to allow customers to book trips directly to the Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center in Lafayette. RTD leaders continue to coordinate with Boulder County officials as all involved look ahead toward recovery. 

In a note to employees, RTD General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson expressed her heartfelt sympathy for those affected by this devastating fire. She wrote: “As this agency has done so often and so well in the past, many employees leaned in to make lives better through connections. These individuals provided needed assistance to residents and front-line responders in the wake of this tragedy.”

Johnson encourages RTD employees and the public to stand with the people impacted by the Marshall Fire, now called the most destructive in state history. “It is worth noting that the Boulder community is remarkably resilient,” she said. “Our focus must remain on supporting the fire victims with compassion and generosity of spirit as they bravely face the daunting road ahead.”

All individuals impacted by the Marshall Fire are encouraged to visit www.boco.org/MarshallFire or www.boco.org/MarshallFireEspanol to learn more about the recovery process and available resources for which they may qualify. To learn how best to help others affected by the fire, visit coloradoresponds.org


Related article: RTD customers can retrieve vehicles left at the McCaslin Park-n-Ride