Time for a quick update on the Gold Line and Northwest Electrified Segment (NWES).
Crews have been busy at work on the Jersey Cutoff (which I covered in an earlier post), marking some of the most visible construction along the Gold Line and NWES. Situated just south and west of the Mousetrap, this bridge is easily visible from I-70 and serves a critical function in both RTD and the freight rail’s operations in this busy corridor. The bridge will allow Gold Line and NWES trains to travel up and over the Jersey Cutoff as the trains travel north. The bridge will drop the trains back down to ground level before they travel underneath I-70. Without it, neither the Gold Line nor NWES could function.
Courtesy of RTD, we have a slideshow of the construction. The location is hard to get to and find a good angle, so these pictures are awesome to show the breadth and magnitude of this bridge – its BIG.
We have our first detailed look at the ongoing construction of the new rail cars for the EAGLE Project, courtesy of RTD!
As many of you may have seen in a recent Denver Business Journal article, the 50 cars that will be used along the East, Gold, and Northwest corridors are currently under construction in South Korea by Hyundai-Rotem. The basic shells of the cars will be constructed in South Korea before being shipped to another Hyundai-Rotem factory in Philidelphia. At this state-side factory, the rest of the cars will be assembled – everything from the windows to the seats to the propulsion systems will be installed there.
Some may be asking why the cars are not constructed by an American company, a good question given these economic times and emphasis on creating good jobs in America. There currently isn’t an American manufacturer to build commuter rail vehicles. Even with the Korean construction of the initial train shells, the train cars will still meet all ‘Buy America‘ requirements as imposed by the federal government. RTD estimates upwards of 60% of the trains will be constructed and assembled in the United States with American workers.
There is a set of four initial cars that will be fully constructed (wheels, HVAC system, seats, windows, etc.) and tested in Korea early next year. Assuming they pass their tests, the train cars will be disassembled and sent to Philadelphia along with the 46 other RTD rail cars for final assembly. Look for the new rail cars to begin arriving in late 2014/early 2015!
It’s not super sexy and it’s fairly remote, but here’s the first sign of construction for both the Gold Line and Northwest Electrified Segment (NWES)! The Jersey Cutoff bridge is a little known, but critical piece of both corridors. The bridge will allow Gold Line and NWES trains to travel up and over the Jersey Cutoff (approximate location seen in red in the map below) as the trains travel north. The bridge will drop the trains back down to ground level before they travel underneath I-70.
The folks at RTD describe the trek traveling from the 41st/Fox Station north towards the Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF) as a “roller coaster” because the train travels up and over the freight tracks only to return to grade to travel beneath I-70 in about a 1/2 mile span.
It’s hard to get close up shots of the bridge construction right now, given it’s happening in no-man’s land. As the project progresses, I’ll try and track down some better photos showing more detailed pictures of its progress.
Just to the west of the tracks and south of 44th Avenue, crews are also working on expanding the electrical substation to help power the trains as well. The trains on both the Gold Line and NWES will be the same electric-multiple units (EMUs) as will run on the East Rail Line out to DIA. The power systems will resemble those we see on the current light rail system, but will require much more power. Therefore, an expansion of this substation was required.
You can see this construction from I-70 (look south) as you approach the Mousetrap from the west – just be careful if you’re going to take a look! In the next few months, we’ll start to see both of these corridors come alive with more construction activity!
As you probably saw on the news yesterday (and oddly not on the front page of the Denver Post), RTD received a $1 BILLION Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the Eagle Project from the Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). RTD held a FFGA signing and Gold line groundbreaking ceremony out in Olde Town Arvada yesterday afternoon, which was extremely well attended.
I won’t repeat what I’m sure everyone heard or read yesterday, but no one failed to mention (again and again) how monumental and important FasTracks is for the entire metro area.
I’ll share some dignitary sightings from the ceremony. On hand (among others obviously) were Governor John Hickenlooper, USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, RTD General Manager Phil Washington, and county commissioners from both Adams and Jefferson Counties. Take a look at some of the pictures below. These are courtesy of my friend Mark Tieman (since I forgot my camera).
This is HUGE for moving FasTracks forward and for the region. While this doesn’t shrink the nearly $2.5 billion budget gap FasTracks faces, this does move a huge chunk of the program forward and bring it closer to reality. With the receipt of the FFGA ($1,030,000,045 to be exact) you should see utility relocation work and other pre-construction activities within about 6 months and major construction along the Gold Line later next year. Keep an eye out for an Eagle Project update – it is in the works.
US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff (among other dignitaries) will present RTD with the Obama administration’s largest Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to date later today. The $1.03 BILLION grant will help bring the Eagle Project to life. For more information on the Eagle Project FFGA, check out a past blog post here. More information on the Eagle Project can be found here.
For those interested in watching a live stream of the ceremony this afternoon, you can see the show here starting at 3 PM.
I’ll post pictures and more information from the ceremony in my next post. It’s a really monumental day for FasTracks and the entire Denver metro area!