After greater than a yr of ready, all that stands between Coloradans and 11 miles of commuter rail line from downtown Denver to Wheat Ridge is the elusive approval of the Colorado Public Utilities Fee.
Depend us amongst these joyful that the PUC is holding a ultimate listening to to find out whether or not the 15 highway crossings the brand new G-Line practice should make on the journey will likely be protected utilizing the Regional Transportation District’s new automated crossing gate and practice driving know-how. Not everybody views the bureaucratic delay that kindly. However at this late date of expensive delay after delay, the temptation to rubber stamp the challenge have to be intense.
RTD and the third-party builders of the rail system promised a typical of operation for the brand new line they haven’t been capable of meet. The query is whether or not operation beneath that commonplace is appropriate.
An administrative regulation choose will contemplate testimony and proof on the matter in March — ideally February — and weigh that very query, which till now hasn’t been answered. And security must be the choose’s most necessary dedication. So too is making certain that the opening of this line doesn’t result in clogged streets for commuters, one other potential fear right here.
We actually hope that after years of trial and error, the crossing know-how is as much as par. In that case, RTD might open the G-Line to Wheat Ridge in brief order. Communities have been eagerly prepping for the financial enhance of this new transportation hall. Such a dedication would additionally permit RTD’s non-public accomplice, Denver Transit Companions, to tug expensive flaggers from crossings on the A-Line to Denver Worldwide Airport.
It might additionally imply cities alongside each the A-Line and G-Line might apply for a federal waiver permitting the commuter trains to go silent at crossings, eliminating blaring horns in any respect hours of the evening which have grow to be a public nuisance within the extremely populated areas.
However these big victories shouldn’t come on the expense of security, and that’s what the PUC is attempting to find out.
On the floor, the dispute that has raged for greater than two years over the timings at these crossings looks as if a petty bureaucratic spat. The issue is that the crossing lights and arms begin flashing and are available down too early and keep on and down too lengthy. A number of years in the past, RTD utilized for approval of crossing warning occasions that fluctuate in keeping with the distinctive geography of every crossing, starting from 26 seconds to 41 seconds. Now RTD is looking for approval of a variety that will add as much as 5 seconds onto the entrance finish of every of these crossings and 15 seconds onto the again finish.
That may imply the longest crossing might take 61 seconds. Trains may very well be operating each 15 minutes throughout peak hours in each instructions. Would driver or pedestrian deference to these crossing gates wane if frequent crossers discover themselves held up for 30 seconds after a practice has handed? We’d hope individuals are smarter than that, however these delays may be unacceptable given potential impacts to site visitors in a Denver metro space already riddled with congestion.
No surprise the regulatory course of has been stymied. Now’s the time to get this proper. The PUC is correct to take time to ensure these crossings are protected and handy for riders and motorists alike.