Thursday, February 21, 2008

FasTracks Follow Up

I want to amend something I left out in my first post. It can hardly be said that the Union Pacific has ever been favorable toward Colorado or Denver. In 1870, Coloradoans had to fund the Denver Pacific, their own connection with the Union Pacific, when UP placed their route through Cheyenne in 1868. For over a century afterward, UP connected with Denver through their acquisition of the Kansas Pacific and sent all standard gauge traffic north to Cheyenne or Julesburg. It had little apparent interest in Denver except as a backwater, and this attitude seems to remain so to this day.

The Denver Post just followed my train of thought on FasTracks Slowing Down with their own special on RTDs right-of-way woes with the Union Pacific. The closing line of the Denver Post article was most ominous for RTD:
...RTD may have to consider acquiring much more private property for the FasTracks lines at a time some in the Colorado General Assembly are proposing to curb RTD's power of eminent domain.
I had hoped that Coloradoans, especially Denverites, had the sense to keep the public transit ball rolling to improve the quality of life in the Mile High City with rail-based rapid transit. Those hopes are fading. Let's hope that legislators keep the big picture and give RTD what it needs to complete FasTracks. Denver doesn't need another I-470 debacle.

More importantly, I hope that Union Pacific can see reason in allowing Denver to use the right of way for a more reasonable figure than $700 million. Doing so would increase goodwill and possibly give them the public support to build a new route further to the east to increase efficiency over the Palmer Divide, ease rail congestion and improve grade crossings. With all the coal headed south from the Powder River Basin and the Craig coal fields, you'd think they'd want some improvements.

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