by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
The Olde Town station design and its EIS are being revised.
If you want to see a pedestrian bridge over the tracks at the new Olde Town parking garage, or an alternative pedestrian underpass, or if you want to see the 35-minute Ride Provide van shuttle service to DIA from the Olde Town Park & Ride continue after opening day in 2016, or if you want to see taxis, handicap vans, hotel shuttle services and the like have easy access to the station without stopping to let off passengers on Grandview and on other Olde Town streets — now is the time to speak your mind. Currently, none of these features are included in the proposed revisions to the EIS.
The public comment deadline for the revised station design is Sunday, August 24th at midnight, and it is quick and easy to post an online comment that goes to both RTD and to the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) — the agency that is providing much of the funding for the new Olde Town station and has promoted rapid approval for the project as a public-private partnership.
The proposal for the Gold Line commuter rail station has come a long way since the first public informational hearings were held. Originally, there was some consideration of two pedestrian overpasses at each end of the station to solve the problem of having the station’s parking located on the south of the tracks, while train boarding would only be allowed from the north side of the railway tracks.
That ped bridge idea disappeared when the preliminary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was issued by RTD. The transit agency simply said ped bridges were not needed and a pedestrian underpass was not economically feasible. That meant that commuter-rail passengers and those parking to shop in Olde Town would have to cross the tracks while trains were entering and leaving the Olde Town station.
That created an access and safety issue that remained un-addressed until earlier this year when a private-sector developer proposed building a pedestrian bridge that would both better feed shoppers into the Olde Town businesses from the parking garage while providing a safe crossing opportunity for commuter rail users who will see their platform access cut off just before their train arrives at the platform.
How often and how long will the crossing gates be down? I’ve asked that question more than once. Those who might know aren’t yet saying. In part, I’m told, because it’s uncertain if the gates on both Vance and Olde Wadsworth will have to be down while the trains are approaching or are in the station.
But despite strong support for a pedestrian bridge from both the Arvada City Council, City Staff, the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority, the private developer of the urban renewal area just east of Vance Street, and from most of the public during presentation meetings showing the benefit of an overhead pedestrian crossing and the minimal impacts on the views from Grandview, the idea was recently nixed by RTD. And we are still not sure why.
The reason wasn’t funding. Additional grants were available for the pedestrian bridge. RTD simply said that a pedestrian bridge would have an “adverse impact”. Moreover, they said an alternative pedestrian underpass was unworkable from both a cost and engineering standpoint. At that point one AURA Commissioner quipped, “Wouldn’t getting pedestrians hit by a train be an adverse impact?” Apparently, a pedestrian underpass is feasible both from an engineering and economics standpoint at the next RTD Gold Line station down the line at Arvada Ridge, where it is an integral part of the station’s current design.
With the currently planned 15-minute each-way headways for the commuter rail, that means that the gates that will close both pedestrian and vehicle access will begin dropping every 7-1/2 minutes during peak hours. If, in the future, the original preliminary EIS headway schedule is adopted because of higher demand, then those gates will be dropping every 3 minutes and 15 seconds. With its single-track design, both inbound and outbound commuter rail trains cannot be in the station at the same time.
GOING TO DIA — WHEN DO I NEED TO BE AT THE STATION?
Safe pedestrian crossings and better parking access to Olde Town are not the only issues. The Arvada station will also be transportation hub for the City.
Much of the current RTD Park & Ride patronage is for people going to DIA to travel or to work at the airport. The Gold Line will indeed offer a connecting service to DIA, but it will involve a change at Union Station (with baggage, possibly kids, and an escalator or elevator ride) to another platform on the opposite side of the station to another train that will be operating on an uncoordinated schedule. When that airport train arrives at DIA, it will not be letting off passengers at the terminal. Passengers will have to hoof it a bit to get to the actual airport.
I’ve also asked — and again more than once — what the expected time will be for door-to-door service for the Gold Line to DIA. I have not yet gotten an answer for either peak or off-peak hour trips to the airport. My best estimate is that the maximum time — Arvada platform to check-in — will exceed an hour and a half during off-peak periods. If you have catch a plane, you have to know when you will need to catch the train. As many airport trips have told me, the 35 to 45 minute travel time for the direct Ride Provide van service to DIA is a pretty reliable number. That appears to make continuing the existing Ride Provide A-Line service to DIA a pretty viable operation for many years to come.
However, in addition to cutting off the subsidy that Ride Provide has enjoyed for years for its DIA shuttle service since the A-Line replaced RTD’s long-defunct AA shuttle service, RTD says it does not plan to allow passenger pickup access at the Gold Line station nor at its parking garage for a competing service to DIA. This may mean the end of Arvada’s door-to-door airport shuttle service if it cannot get approval to operate elsewhere in the City. That would be a loss to Arvada and hurt the businesses that use the service for reliable access to DIA. Moreover, moving the A-Line pick-up site away from the Olde Town Park & Ride hurts the viability of the service.
HOW TO COMMENT
It’s pretty simple, really. You just go to this website and fill in the who-from boxes and then the comment box:
But before you do, you might want to scan through the actual proposal to revise the currently approved EIS. You can read that proposed revision by going to this link:
And, you can look at an RTD PowerPoint presentation that was shown at a public meeting on August 7th by going to this link:
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
You can also go to the RTD website at
which has a brief summary of the changes to the original EIS.
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
Our main website is at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. Hey, it’s not us. It’s Facebook that insists on spelling Livable that way.
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
Saturday 23 August 2014