The Regional Transportation District broke ground June 28 on the first segment of the Northwest Rail Line at the site of the future Westminster Station near 71st Avenue and Irving Street. The Northwest Line is the third FasTracks commuter rail line to get under way as part of the innovative Eagle P3 Project.

Photo courtesy of RTD
The RTD groundbreaking included six members of the public, who planted garden stakes in the holes dug by the speakers (in orange vests). From left to right are: Phil Washington, RTD general manager; Bob Eck, Design West Studio; Skip Fischer, Adams County Commissioner; Gary Shea, Westminster Progressive Homeowners Association; Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally; Phil Bryant, Qualimage; Skeet Hartman, Import Auto Care; Larry Hoy, RTD director, District J; Greg Amparano, Denver Transit Partner project director; Jared Carlon, Norris Design; Kevin Smith, vice president of finance for South Westminster Arts Group; and John Tayer, RTD director, District O.

The first segment of the Northwest Rail Line will run for six miles between Denver Union Station and south Westminster. The Northwest Line, approved by voters in 2004 as part of the overall FasTracks system, will eventually continue through Westminster to Boulder and Longmont.

The segment of the line from downtown to Westminster is part of the $2.1-billion Eagle P3 Project, a 34-year public-private partnership with Denver Transit Partners to build, operate, maintain and privately finance the FasTracks commuter rail system. It is under full construction toward a 2016 opening and includes the East Rail Line to Denver International Airport and the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge.

“We are breaking ground on more than just a rail line, we are planting the seeds for opportunities and growth for tomorrow,” said RTD Board Member Larry Hoy, who represents Westminster. “The Northwest Rail Line will produce new jobs both during construction and long after the line is completed.”

The start of work comes after RTD and the city of Westminster put the final touches on an intergovernmental agreement under which the city will invest additional money in the station area. Upgrades include a parking garage, enhanced accessibility and a community plaza.

Westminster is capitalizing on the station location to revitalize this portion of South Westminster with plans for a transit-oriented development that includes a regional park made possible through flood control improvements along Little Dry Creek.
Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally said the project will help revitalize the area where Westminster was settled more than 100 years ago.

“In addition to the commuter rail, a massive redevelopment will take place in this part of the city that will completely transform this neighborhood,” McNally said. “This 135-acre site will become a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood with a large community park and plenty of open space areas—a great place to live, work and play.”