RTD officials talk light rail progress at public meeting

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AURORA | Transportation officials spoke to a crowd of about 200 people at the Aurora Municipal Center on Jan. 30 about the Regional Transportation District’s Interstate 225 FasTracks project. The I-225 FasTracks light rail line is 10.5 miles long and will include eight stations through the city. The light rail will provide connections to several Aurora landmarks including the Aurora Municipal Center, the Anschutz Medical Campus, the Buckley Air Force Base and the Medical Center of Aurora.

“You are getting the opportunity to live through the transformation of Aurora from a suburban community to an urban one,” said Dave Chambers, director of Public Works for Aurora.

But he cautioned residents that the three-year construction project will cause major traffic congestion and roadwork around the entire city.

Bob Watkins, director of planning and development services for the city of Aurora, said Transit Oriented Development projects are planned around each of the eight stations. Those TOD’s will be a mix of public spaces like plazas and parks, businesses, pedestrian and bike paths and housing. Watkins said the TOD areas around the light rail are expected to attract developers and businesses possibly from around the country because of the proximity to public transportation.

“These transit stations now have a competitive advantage over other kinds of places,” Watkins said. Watkins said he’s excited for the new light rail line, which is expected to be open to the public in mid-2016. “The first and biggest advantage is that citizens of Aurora will now have new travel choices,” Watkins said.

Construction is slated to start in the spring on the south end of the I-225 project from Parker Road to Exposition Avenue.

RTD board members underscored the importance of the project.

“This is the largest investment in infrastructure in Aurora ever,” said Claudia Folska, RTD board member whose district covers Aurora.

 

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected]