April 20, 2018

The Skinny on EcoPasses

Photo by flickr user writRHET.

I’ve heard more queries lately about starting an RTD EcoPass program in Golden, and Rick Muriby at the city’s planning department (and our transit point person) provided the following low-down. It more-or-less boils down to an individual neighborhood having a high enough participation rate that the numbers work out, and that’s probably going to be pretty tough to pull off now but it might start to look more promising when the light rail and our own new community bus come online in 2013.

Rick’s info:

The City has begun looking into the Neighborhood EcoPass program, and staff’s thinking has been that this may be a great initiative for some areas of town once the light rail station and the proposed circulator service (which now has committed funding) begin operation in May 2013.

I’ve talked to representatives at RTD who manage the program and it’s been successful in several neighborhoods in Boulder where a high percentage of neighbors opt in and reduce the cost for all. RTD requires that an HOA or the City sponsor the program for a given neighborhood and that a “NECO Contract” be signed. A survey is then given by RTD to determine the level of interest in paying into a Neighborhood EcoPass, and the results of the survey are used to determine the pricing scheme.
Here are the steps:

  • Either county / city government entity or HOA must be involved
  • Either county / city government entity or HOA must sign a NECO Contract
  • Survey must be taken
  • Survey determines the price

The main point I took away was that this is a great deal if a neighborhood can generate a high participation rate, which is generally dependent on whether or not the area is already served well with transit options.

West Corridor and FasTracks Update

West Corridor bridge over 6th Avenue at Indiana (RTD Photo)

RTD and some of the polling folks involved with FasTracks provided an in-depth briefing yesterday morning at the Metro Mayors Caucus meeting.  The FasTracks construction update is very encouraging: 48 miles of new rail lines now under construction, 8 projects under way, and the West Corridor to Golden is 75% complete.

 

The update on the latest public opinion research is even more interesting.  Some key findings:

  1. Mass transit and FasTracks remain very popular with voters.
  2. Voters really seem to get the value of a full buildout of FasTracks system, including the DIA line.  This is true even among people who themselves aren’t frequent travelers and won’t themselves use FasTracks.
  3. Voters blame the FasTracks budget challenges on the economy; they don’t blame RTD.
  4. Public support for a tax increase to complete the FasTracks buildout increased as the size of the potential tax increase grew.  In other words support for a 4/10 of a penny increase in the FasTracks tax was substantially greater than support for a 3/10 of a penny increase, which was itself substantially more than support for 2/10, and so on.  In fact, support for no tax increase was about 35% (and opposition to not increasing the tax was about 65%).  With respect to FasTracks, Denver Metro voters really value time (the length of time before the system is built out), even more than money (the amount of the tax increase).

RTD will make a decision soon about how much of a tax increase they will ask the voters to approve to complete buildout of the FasTracks system, so expect to see a lot of media coverage over the next couple of months.

The Denver Post has a story on that meeting.  This is one of those where the story isn’t quite accurate (MMC actually didn’t make a decision because we act on consensus and clearly didn’t have that, especially with the Littleton mayor), but the characterization of the gist was probably fair (most of the mayors expressed support for 4% because it means the system gets built out so much quicker and because voter support seems so much higher with that proposal than with lower proposals).

West Corridor Light Rail Construction Update

The latest update from RTD on West Corridor light rail construction between the Taj and the Federal Center:

  • Work on walls and drainage continues near I-70.
  • Light rail bridge construction (pouring piers, footing work, and deck pours) is taking place on both sides of Indiana Street at 6th Avenue. Crews have stripped the wood forms from the north side of the bridge to expose the concrete setting of the bridge and begin the post-tensioning process between two spans of the bridge.  The wood forms will be placed on the south side to begin pouring there. The 6th Avenue eastbound on-ramp from Indiana will close March 16, 17 and 18 during nighttime hours.
  • Crews continue working on the bridge over Colfax.  They anticipate pouring the deck of the bridge within the next two weeks.
  • Ulysses Street in Golden is closed from 6th Avenue north to Mt. Vernon Road to raise the street and install retaining walls. Improvements to the Lena Gulch on Ulysses at 6th Avenue will be winding down soon.  Retaining wall construction could begin within the next few weeks.
  • Work at the Jefferson County Government Center including excavation and retaining wall construction has begun. The current bike path has been detoured down Johnson Road to Jefferson County Parkway.
  • Wall construction on the south side of 6th Avenue west of Simms/Union is near completion.  Excavation and wall construction on the north side of 6th Avenue from Indiana to Colfax is on-going.
  • Construction of the tunnel under Simms/Union will begin this week with the removal of the center median from 4th Avenue to 6th Avenue.  Once the median has been removed, crews will work nighttime hours to build the bridge support under the roadway.

Jacob's Golden Update: Critical Beltway Vote on January 20

Jacob’s Golden Update: January 12, 2010

1. New City Council to be Sworn in on Thursday
2. Critical Beltway Vote on January 20
3. Mayor’s Awards for Excellence: 2009
4. Golden Community Bus Feasibility Study
5. Senator Keller Announces Town Hall Meeting Schedule
6. Permit Parking Near Golden High School and Colorado School of Mines
7. New Beverly Heights Email List
8. Smith for Golden Blog Roundup
9. Other Upcoming Events
10. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, January 14

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Jacob’s Golden Update: Critical Beltway Vote on January 20

Jacob’s Golden Update: January 12, 2010

1. New City Council to be Sworn in on Thursday
2. Critical Beltway Vote on January 20
3. Mayor’s Awards for Excellence: 2009
4. Golden Community Bus Feasibility Study
5. Senator Keller Announces Town Hall Meeting Schedule
6. Permit Parking Near Golden High School and Colorado School of Mines
7. New Beverly Heights Email List
8. Smith for Golden Blog Roundup
9. Other Upcoming Events
10. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, January 14

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[Read more...]

RTD Releases 2010 FasTracks Financial Evaluation

RTD today released its new annual financial evaluation for the FasTracks program.  Although RTD’s original projections seemed very reasonable at the time and earned the support of multiple independent review bodies, nobody anticipated the explosive construction inflation in the latter 2000s nor the massive recession of the past year, which together created a $2.2 billion shortfall in the program.  For that reason, I don’t blame RTD for the huge FasTracks funding shortfall, but it does create a considerable obstacle to completing construction of the FasTracks light rail system.

Golden had the good fortune to see our light rail line – the West Corridor ending at the Jefferson County building – as the first one in line in the FasTracks program.  Construction is under way, it’s on schedule, and at this point it looks like we’ll have an operating light rail line to Golden in 2013.  It’s always been my view, however, that we very much need to build out the entire FasTracks system across the Denver Metro region.  A strong light rail system across the Denver Metro region is good for Golden and good for all of the Denver area.

When RTD published its annual financial evaluation last year, I and a number of other elected officials across the region expressed serious concerns about what seemed like very optimistic revenue projections.  I am optimistic about economic recovery, but adopting a financial plan for RTD that depends on a high rate of economic growth and sizable infusions of new federal money, which it did last year, seems very hazardous to me.  I am pleased to see that this newest financial report is more conservative, which means that the financial plans are probably more realistic.

The key conclusions of their new report:

  • The cost to build FasTracks by 2017 has decreased from $6.9 billion to $6.5 billion.
  • The projected revenues for FasTracks through 2035 have decreased from $9.1 billion to $7.8 billion because RTD is now using a more conservative method for making these projections.
  • The result: the funding gap for completing construction by 2017 has grown from $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion.

Based on all of this, RTD outlined four basic options for completing the entire FasTracks system.

  1. Complete by 2017: Assuming a successful election in 2010 that increases sales and use tax by 0.4% (under the high, medium and low sales tax growth scenarios).
  2. Complete by 2019: Assuming an election in 2012 that increases sales and use tax by 0.4% (but the two-year delay in the additional sales tax revenues adds $200 million in costs).
  3. Complete by 2025: Assuming a successful election in 2010 that increases sales and use tax by 0.4%, but no federal funding for the East and Gold Line corridors.
  4. Completed after 2035: Assuming no additional revenues.

What does this mean for Golden?  Our light rail line should remain on track and on time, but RTD will be asking us and everyone else across the Denver region to support an additional sales tax to help meet the funding gap so that they can build out the entire system during our lifetimes.  I’ll keep you posted as their plans unfold.

Jacob's Golden Update: Golden's New Transit Feasibility Study and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: November 28, 2009

1. Golden’s New Transit Feasibility Study
2. Jackson Street Corridor Project in the Works
3. New Email Newsletters Serving Golden
4. Council Adopts 2009 Building Code Including Radon Protections
5. Golden Vision 2030: Listening to the Community’s Stories
6. New State Transportation Funding
7. Rocky Mountain Deaf School Wins Approval for New High School
8. Adopting the 2010 Budget
9. Cindy Stevenson Awarded “Superintendent of the Year”
10. Other Upcoming Events
11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, December 3

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Jacob’s Golden Update: Golden’s New Transit Feasibility Study and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: November 28, 2009

1. Golden’s New Transit Feasibility Study
2. Jackson Street Corridor Project in the Works
3. New Email Newsletters Serving Golden
4. Council Adopts 2009 Building Code Including Radon Protections
5. Golden Vision 2030: Listening to the Community’s Stories
6. New State Transportation Funding
7. Rocky Mountain Deaf School Wins Approval for New High School
8. Adopting the 2010 Budget
9. Cindy Stevenson Awarded “Superintendent of the Year”
10. Other Upcoming Events
11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, December 3

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[Read more...]

Vancouver's Ambitious Vision

The city of Vancouver, British Columbia is getting some attention for its new Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future city strategy and vision document.  Their new vision statement eloquently highlights the links between environmental and economic health:

We envision a bright green future that couples economic prosperity, health, and happiness with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. We envision less pollution and cleaner air, less machine noise and more birdsong, less pavement and more green space, fewer sick days and healthier people. We want to send a clear and compelling message to the world: prosperity and environmental stewardship can be partners, not opposing forces. We can meet the challenge of climate change in ways that will improve the quality of life for our children, and our children’s children.

Their new city plan sets a high bar for community visions:

  • Create 20,000 new green jobs.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent from 2007 levels.
  • All new construction is carbon neutral.
  • Improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings by 20 percent.
  • The majority of trips in the city (more than 50%) are by foot, bicycle, and public transit.
  • Reduce per capita solid waste going to the landfill or incinerator by 40%.
  • Every person walks within a five-minute walk of a park, beach, greenway, or other natural space.
  • Plant 150,000 additional trees in the city.
  • Reduce per capita ecological footprint by 33 percent.
  • Always meet or beat the strongest of B.C., Canada, and World Health Organization drinking water standards.
  • Reduce per capita water consumption by 33 percent.
  • Always meet or beat World Health Organization air quality guidelines.
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of our food by 33 percent.

In case you haven’t looked at it in a while, I inserted our own Golden Sustainability Initiative goals below.  Vancouver is definitely setting an ambitious bar, but the comparison is encouraging because ours goals, while they are ambitious, are pretty moderate by comparison.  The Sustainability Advisory Board will be reporting to City Council in the near future on their progress toward meeting our goals.  We’ll figure out where we are at and what adjustments we need to make to help the board, city staff, and community groups keep the ball moving forward.

Golden Sustainability Initiative Goals adopted Aug. 2007

Vancouver’s Ambitious Vision

The city of Vancouver, British Columbia is getting some attention for its new Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future city strategy and vision document.  Their new vision statement eloquently highlights the links between environmental and economic health:

We envision a bright green future that couples economic prosperity, health, and happiness with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. We envision less pollution and cleaner air, less machine noise and more birdsong, less pavement and more green space, fewer sick days and healthier people. We want to send a clear and compelling message to the world: prosperity and environmental stewardship can be partners, not opposing forces. We can meet the challenge of climate change in ways that will improve the quality of life for our children, and our children’s children.

Their new city plan sets a high bar for community visions:

  • Create 20,000 new green jobs.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent from 2007 levels.
  • All new construction is carbon neutral.
  • Improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings by 20 percent.
  • The majority of trips in the city (more than 50%) are by foot, bicycle, and public transit.
  • Reduce per capita solid waste going to the landfill or incinerator by 40%.
  • Every person walks within a five-minute walk of a park, beach, greenway, or other natural space.
  • Plant 150,000 additional trees in the city.
  • Reduce per capita ecological footprint by 33 percent.
  • Always meet or beat the strongest of B.C., Canada, and World Health Organization drinking water standards.
  • Reduce per capita water consumption by 33 percent.
  • Always meet or beat World Health Organization air quality guidelines.
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of our food by 33 percent.

In case you haven’t looked at it in a while, I inserted our own Golden Sustainability Initiative goals below.  Vancouver is definitely setting an ambitious bar, but the comparison is encouraging because ours goals, while they are ambitious, are pretty moderate by comparison.  The Sustainability Advisory Board will be reporting to City Council in the near future on their progress toward meeting our goals.  We’ll figure out where we are at and what adjustments we need to make to help the board, city staff, and community groups keep the ball moving forward.

Golden Sustainability Initiative Goals adopted Aug. 2007