U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today signed an agreement committing $1 billion to Denver's Eagle P3, a 30-mile two-pronged commuter rail project that will significantly expand transportation choices in the greater Denver area, create jobs and cut by nearly half the amount of time it now takes to get from downtown Denver to the airport.
Secretary LaHood signed the funding agreement at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Gold Line in Olde Town Arvada today, alongside Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter, U.S. Representative Diana DeGette, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and other area officials.
"Through the Eagle P3 project, the Obama Administration and the Denver Regional Transportation District are putting greater Denver on a smart path to sustainable growth, while generating thousands of good local jobs," said Secretary LaHood. "Eagle P3 provides Denver with transportation choices that reduce congestion, promote clean air and reduce our nation's dependence on costly oil."
The Denver Regional Transit District (RTD) is the first transit agency in the nation to successfully pursue a comprehensive public-private partnership, or P3, that encompasses the design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of its regional transit projects. The federal funding agreement covers roughly half of the $2 billion cost of the entire project, which is expected to generate roughly 4,700 construction-related jobs in the Denver metro area.
The federal funding agreement clears the way for construction to begin on the western segment of Eagle P3, also known as the Gold Line, which will serve the suburbs of Arvada and Wheat Ridge. The East Line of Eagle P3, which has already begun construction using local funds, will run from Denver's historic Union Station nearly 23 miles east to Denver International Airport and will connect to existing light rail and bus service.
"Denver and its suburbs are executing one of the most ambitious and far-reaching public transportation programs in the country--one that will allow millions of Coloradans to enjoy new and improved access to transit right in their neighborhoods," Federal Tranist Administrator Peter Rogoff said. "This will give working families more reliable, affordable transportation that will allow them to spend more time at home and less money at the gas pump."
The Eagle P3 project and Denver Union Station's ongoing renovation are part of RTD's far-reaching FasTracks program, a voter-approved, multi-year, multibillion-dollar transit expansion program covering 140 miles of rail and bus corridors that will help Denver to successfully manage growth and compete for business for years to come.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is the major federal funder through a combination of grants and loans. A consortium of private companies, known as the Denver Transit Partners, is responsible for financing the rest through tax-exempt private-activity bonds issued by RTD and other means.
To ensure that Denver's citizens participate as fully as possible in the jobs created by this work, the FTA recently awarded nearly half a million dollars towards the innovative Denver Regional Workforce Initiative Now. The effort brings local transportation, education, and business leaders together to train, hire, develop and retain transit workers eager to work on Denver's federally-funded transportation infrastructure projects.
The entire project is slated for completion in 2016. The new railcars slated for use on the commuter line will be assembled in the United States and will consist of at least 60 percent US-made components, consistent with the Administration's Buy America requirements.