FAQ: Northwest Area Mobility Study

Northwest Area Mobility Study MapWhat is the Northwest Area Mobility Study?

The Northwest Area Mobility Study (NAMS) was a 13-month long planning effort led by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) that developed a prioritized list of transit mobility improvements for the northwest metro region.

The study was a collaborative effort that addresses significant cost increases and delays associated with building and operating the 41-mile Northwest Rail commuter rail line from Longmont to Denver.

The study concluded with elected officials, the Regional Transportation District (RTD), Colorado Department of Transportation, and 13 area jurisdictions (City of Arvada, City of Boulder, Boulder County, City and County of Broomfield, City of Lafayette, City of Longmont, City of Louisville, Town of Superior and the City of Westminster) University of Colorado-Boulder and agencies reaching consensus on transit priorities in the region.

What areas does the study include?

The study concentrated on the northwest metro region including Longmont, Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, Superior, Broomfield, Thornton, Westminster and Denver.

What priorities does the study include?

  • Phased construction of Northwest Rail: The study evaluated operational/service options and construction phasing options along the Northwest Rail line from Westminster to go through Boulder and Longmont.
  • Feasibility of Extending North Metro Line to Longmont: As an alternative to providing commuter rail service to Longmont on the Northwest Rail through Boulder, the study evaluated the feasibility of providing commuter rail service to Longmont along various alignments by extending the North Metro Line.
  • US 36 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Commitments: The study determined the remaining final commitments for the FasTracks BRT funding and scope for the US 36 corridor and complete corresponding commitments.
  • B Line (Formerly known as Northwest Rail): Annually evaluate strategies to accelerate the implementation of the B Line while recognizing it is a long-term project. Evaluate the feasibility and cost of constructing the line in segments.
  • US 36 to Denver Reverse Commute: Work with CDOT to evaluate the reverse commute traffic between Denver Union Station and US 36. For the I-25 downtown express lane, evaluate alternatives to ease reverse commute traffic.
  • Additional arterial BRT: Consider implementing additional arterial BRT/enhanced bus corridors.

What are some of the US 36 Bus Rapid Transit Commitments?

US 36 BRT was included as part of the ballot initiative that funded the original FasTracks plan, which stated RTD would provide a set financial commitment to the US 36 project. This commitment assumed to provide stations and park-n-rides along the corridor and a proportional share of the cost to provide bus/high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

BRT has been considered an alternative for rapid transit service on US 36 since the completion of US 36 Major Investment Study in 2001.

NAMS determined the remaining final commitments for the US 36 BRT service. The US 36 BRT FasTracks program included two implementation phases.

The first phase, completed in May 2010, included the first FasTracks project to reach 100% completion.

  • It consisted of three separate projects along US 36, designed to improve park-n-Ride access as well as travel-time savings between Boulder and Denver.
  • Improvements included pedestrian bridges and bus stops for McCaslin Boulevard, Church Ranch Boulevard and Broomfield stations.

The second phase included building an express lane in each direction to accommodate HOV, Bus Rapid Transit and tolled Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOV).

What were some of the corridors listed in the study?

The corridors listed include:

  • SH 119: The Diagonal Highway corridor project connects Boulder to Longmont and travels through Niwot and Gunbarrel. There are an estimated 45,000 vehicles that travel the corridor daily, and it is projected there will be a 25% increase by 2040.
  • US 287: The corridor between Longmont and Broomfield. This project is currently undergoing a re-envisioning process which includes a Bus Rapid Transit implementation to address the growing congestion and travel demand in the area.
  • Colorado 7: The corridor is between Brighton and Boulder. By 2040, there is projected to be more than 56,000 new residents and 38,000 new jobs along the corridor. This will lead to a 37% increase in traffic along an already congested corridor.
  • Additional Arterial BRT: The plan considered implementing additional arterial BRT/enhanced bus corridors such as 120th Avenue, Colorado 42/95th Street and South Boulder Road.

What are some resources I can read?

RTD Discusses Northwest Rail during Study Session

RTD Rendering Northwest Rail Train CarOn Feb. 9, RTD Board of Directors held a Study Session where they discussed Northwest Rail.

Northwest Rail’s adopted plan seeks to bring 41 miles of new light rail and commuter rail to the northwest region. It includes 18 miles of Bus Rapid Transit, more than 21,000 parking spaces, 31 new Park-n-Rides and much more.

The Northwest Rail would extend the B Line current terminus through Boulder to Longmont, totaling 35.3 miles. It would provide 55 trains per day, with 30-minute peak frequencies and 60-minute off-peak frequencies.

According to an RTD presentation, peak service would include three one-way trains from Longmont to Denver in the morning,

During the Feb. 9 Study Session, RTD CEO and General Manager Debra Johnson requested for a plan to be brought forth to the RTD Board of Directors in 60 days.

RTD’s presentation can be found online.

Connecting Communities: Northwest Rail Progress Update

Whether we are at a community event or town halls, one of the most frequent questions we are asked is surrounding FasTracks and the completion of the Northwest Rail service. From when construction will begin, service offerings and station locations, the Northwest Rail remains on the minds of residents and employees throughout the northwest metro region.

For over the past year, Commuting Solutions has been working closely with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to evaluate service possibilities for the remaining 38 miles between Westminster and Longmont.  RTD still does not have the fiscal resources to prioritize completion of Northwest Rail for quite some time as defined in its full buildout; however, our local elected officials asked RTD to explore the ridership and costs to construct and operate peak hour service only, as a means of beginning the service with a much simpler implementation plan.

Evaluating Our Options

FasTracks Progress Map

After careful review and consideration of three implementation options, coordination with RTD and local elected officials, we support continued evaluation of an option that would provide three trips from Longmont to Denver in the morning and three trips from Denver to Longmont in the evening. The service would include seven station locations throughout the region including: Boulder, Louisville, Broomfield, Westminster, and Longmont. Current models estimate that this trip would take roughly 67 minutes of travel time one way from Longmont to Denver, and have an average weekday ridership of 1,400 additional passengers.

Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition are interested to explore this option to potentially enable initial commuter rail access sooner rather than later, pending funding availability.

 

Keeping Progress Moving

Earlier this month, the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions shared a letter of support for RTD to continue the evaluation of this peak service alternative. We also urged RTD to continue conversations with our local government partners and if necessary, request that BNSF provide an estimate of the potential cost to implement Northwest Rail peak hour service on its rail line.

At Commuting Solutions, we know from experience that transportation projects of this scale are transformative and deserve special scrutiny in this time of limited resources.  We want to reassure community members that we are working closely with our partners to keep progress moving forward for RTD FasTracks completion.

RTD rail service to Westminster on track to begin late July

DENVER — The RTD B Line from Denver Union Station out to Westminster now has an opening date.

RTD announced Thursday in a press release that the B Line will be open for service on July 25 this year, according to their project concessionaire, Denver Transit Partners.

“This rail line will be the third project this year the agency opens to the public with the G and R Lines coming later in 2016,” RTD Chair of the Board of Directors Tom Tobiassen said. “This many major transit line openings in one year are unprecedented in public transportation and the region should be proud of the collaboration that is making it happen.”

The B Line will be the second electric commuter rail line to operate in Denver, the first being the University of Colorado A Line to Denver International Airport, which began service on April 22.

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