Denver area’s long-stalled light rail expands east at expense of the north
Peter Blake / Colorado News Agency
There’s no happier, luckier man in Aurora than Mayor Steve Hogan.
Just six weeks ago he was floating the idea of asking his subjects to approve a tax hike to speed up construction of the last 10.5 miles of FasTracks along Interstate 225.
Asking for new taxes is usually a one-way ticket to political oblivion. But Hogan was upset that, under the current pay-as-you-go schedule, the I-225 line wouldn’t reach its northern terminus at the Peoria Street/Smith Road station until 2026.
He wanted to knock a few years off that timetable by obtaining a loan from the Regional Transportation District that would be paid off either by hiking the city sales tax or property taxes. If approved by city council, the proposal would have gone before Aurora voters in 2013.
But last week Kiewit Infrastructure Co. came to the RTD with an unsolicited offer Hogan didn’t expect. It said it could complete the line for $350 million by the end of 2015 for no extra tax revenue. No higher taxes would be needed.
The secret to the Kiewit proposal? Forget the old-fashioned pay-as-you-go system and, in effect, put the project on RTD’s never-never credit card. It’s the American way.
The RTD staff recommended accepting the deal. The full board will vote on it later this month. …read full column
Veteran Colorado political columnist Peter Blake writes weekly on state issues for the Colorado News Agency.
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