The people in the Denver metro area — especially the northern communities — want rail. The most recent Boulder County Issues Survey shows that 66 percent of Boulder County residents still want the voter-approved FasTracks rail, with Longmont providing a whooping 74 percent approval.
I also emphatically want rail service. That is why I’m running for the RTD Board of Directors. As a retired EPA attorney specializing in air pollution from automobile use, I am very aware of the harm that heavy auto traffic causes to our health and environment. In addition, as a long-term commuter from Boulder County to Lakewood and Denver, I have personally experienced the need for reducing automobile congestion. With the state’s population expected to increase along with automotive use, we must create a more effective transit system to take some car traffic off the road.
With so much public approval, why aren’t the northern RTD communities getting our FasTracks rail? The failure stems from a combination of unexpected problems plus an unfortunate lack of RTD management oversight and vision. The problems include declining sales tax revenues for FasTracks due to the 2008 recession, and the fact that the real costs for northern sector use of the Burlington Northern rail lines turned out to be several times greater than originally estimated. Another factor is the RTD philosophy of building as much rail as quickly as possible. This sounds wonderful but has the unintended side effect of leaving those areas with higher costs and problems — such as the north — to be shunted aside while the other areas are hustled along.
So what now? Should we just accept the situation and leave things as they are, so that rail will not come to Longmont until 2044, the latest RTD projection? On the contrary, I think we must make a firm resolve to turn the situation around and get the rail and great mass transit that we deserve in a much more timely fashion. I believe our solutions must come from thinking and acting differently than before, so we will get better results.
I propose that, instead of fighting each other over competing visions of mass transit, the northern communities must come together to forge an effective consensus about the mass transit we should have for our region. With one voice, we should then reach out to our federal and state representatives — and to RTD — to demand real assistance in fulfilling this vision in a reasonable time frame. A great rail system — supported by effective Bus Rapid Transit and other improvements — will be an economic win-win not only for our northern communities, but also for the entire State of Colorado. What’s more, it’s only fair, since the voters in the north are paying for our rail and we should get it.
Please join me in obtaining the rail and other mass transit improvements that Northern Colorado needs. I ask you to support my candidacy for the RTD Board.
Judy Lubow is a Longmont resident and a retired EPA attorney who is running for the RTD Board of Directors from District I.