Federal, state and local officials joined with the Regional Transportation District and its guests on May 10 to break ground on RTD’s new Southeast Rail Extension.

The project adds 2.3 miles to the existing 19-mile Southeast Rail Line, which parallels I-25. The light rail line will be extended from Lincoln Avenue to RidgeGate Parkway in Douglas County, south of Denver.

“This extension is great news for 252,000 people who live and work in this rapidly growing part of the metro area and makes it possible for RTD to connect more people to more places throughout the region, including Denver International Airport,” said Gary Lasater, RTD director for District G.

That includes Lone Tree and Foxfield, portions of Aurora, Centennial, Greenwood Village and Parker, and adjacent portions of unincorporated Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

The $233.1-million construction project is estimated to create more than 300 jobs through 2019. It will also add three bridges and three new light-rail stations. The new structures will carry light rail trains across the 620-ft-long Lincoln Avenue Bridge, a 1,397-ft-long bridge over I-25 and the 506-ft-long bridge over RidgeGate Parkway. 

The new stations will be located at Sky Ridge Avenue (near the Sky Ridge Medical Center); the future Lone Tree City Center; and an end-of-line station at RidgeGate Parkway, with 1,300 parking spaces.

All stations will be within walking distance of more than 500 acres of new mixed-used, commercial and residential development. 

“This is transformational for our southeast region. This is about connecting people,” said Jim Gunning, mayor of Lone Tree. “It’s about living, working and shopping here, getting into downtown, getting to the airport and the world; it’s about multimodal transportation and, most importantly, it’s about planned growth for our future.” 

RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova, said, “On behalf of RTD, I want to express our thanks to the city of Lone Tree, Douglas County, Coventry Development, the Southeast Public Improvement District and the Federal Transit Administration for partnering with us to move this project forward.” 

The $233.1-million construction budget includes a $92-million capital investment grant to RTD from the Federal Transit Administration. The federal funds allowed RTD to give Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. the notice to proceed with construction.

Balfour Beatty is the construction contractor selected by RTD to build out the extension. The firm has also been involved in RTD’s Eagle P3 commuter rail project and the North Metro commuter rail line.

RTD’s investment in the Southeast Rail Extension project is $71 million, with remaining costs covered by $7.5 million in federal funds from the Denver Regional Council of Governments and an unprecedented $25 million in cash and an estimated $3 million in land and right-of-way permits from the city of Lone Tree, Douglas County, Coventry Development Corp. and the Southeast Public Improvement District. 

Genova explained that when the project is complete in 2019, residents will have the option to travel from the RidgeGate Station on the E Line to Union Station, the F Line to 18th & California, and the new R Line through Aurora to Peoria Station.

At Peoria, riders can connect to the University of Colorado A Line commuter train to Denver International Airport or to Union Station in downtown Denver.