Construction of new Denver area commuter rail line has been bogged down by route conflicts with adjacent properties, potentially adding as much as 18 months to the project’s construction schedule.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) had hoped to begin operations along the first 13-mile, six-station phase of the North Metro Rail Line in early 2018. However, owners of a historic cemetery alongside the new tracks has resisted plans to relocate the sole entrance to a side street, even though more than 80 trains will periodically block the current point of entry each day. Despite the safety advantages, the cemetery claims that a different, less visible entrance might deter visitors.

Another conflict involves a nearly two-mile bridge that cuts across an oil refinery considered strategically important by federal homeland security officials. As such, portions of the bridge will have to be fitted with blinders to prevent passengers from observing the facility. The bridge also crosses several streets, rail lines and I-270.

Part of RTD’s $5.3-billion FasTracks transit expansion program, the North Metro Rail Line is being constructed by Regional Rail Partners, a design-build joint venture of Balfour Beatty and Graham.