Denver's Transportation Future Arrived Today

Today I was thrilled to attend a press conference held by Senator Michael Bennett, FTA chief Peter Rogoff, RTD General Manager Phil Washington and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper announcing that the federal government has agreed to loan $300 million dollars for the Denver Union Station redevelopment.

Since 1881, the Denver Union Station has been a major force in Denver's regional evolution. It has acted as a major intercontinental rail link, the station helped shape transportation in the city, region and the nation. Today, we are on the threshold of a new frontier. The redevelopment of this site will restore Denver Union Station to it's prominence as a force shaping our City and State's future character and economy.

DUS is situated right in the heart of Council District 9, and I am so proud that it is on track to be considered the nation's most important central multi-modal hub. How we realize this dream for DUS involves numerous complex and important decisions. When I approach such important decisions, I always consider how all of the threads of the project before me weave together. I look to understand the assets we can further capitalize on for the benefit of all of the people in Denver and I also look for the gaps that need attention so that the project has the best chance of success.

I do believe the public should be allowed to gain an understanding of the many long hours over many years of careful deliberation involved in this process. The public should know about the multiple and complex aspects tied to the redevelopment of Denver Union Station - from its design and connectivity, to the complex financing involving public and private partnerships. And they should know about the benefits the project will bring to Denver.

Specifically, some of the benefits of the DUS project include:

• Construction jobs expected to be created by the DUS project include more than 1,000 jobs in the first year of construction activity and more than 7,000 over the 48-month construction period for the transportation elements of the project.

• Direct and indirect jobs, both transportation-related and those resulting from the private development anticipated over a 12-year build-out, are expected to reach 31,000.

• The FasTracks dollars allocated to Denver Union Station only fund improvements to light-, commuter- and passenger rail facilities. If only FasTracks dollars were available, DUS would simply be a train station. Don't forget, it is the City's contribution to the Denver Union Station (DUS) project that makes it possible for DUS to become a multi-modal transportation hub for the region.

• The site's transportation infrastructure will provide local residents and visitors the ability to make strategic connections to and among a variety of locations throughout the region, including employment centers, educational institutions, medical facilities, affordable housing, Denver International Airport and so on.

• When people have safe, easy access to amenities in their area, the atmosphere of a healthy community builds upon itself and people enjoy hanging out, walking, shopping, working and leaving their cars at home.

• With Denver's contribution, and as a multi-modal hub, DUS has been able to attract funding from many sources.

I am so appreciative of the foresight of the founders of Denver Union Station who, in 1881, had the fortitude to withstand criticism. Their steadfastness allowed for us to be here today to be discussing another important leap forward in Denver's transportation legacy. I believe back in, 2001 when a group of governmental entities came together to buy DUS, we continued that 1881 thinking of the importance of a comprehensive transit system for the metro Denver area. Since 2001, there have been hundreds of meetings and the passage of FasTracks to propel this project forward. I'd also like to give a shout-out to Rep. Diana DeGette who helped us secure early money for DUS.

Chief Rogoff also reported at the press conference that the federal government is awarding two $40 million grants toward the costs of building the Gold Line corridor from Union Station to north Denver and the East Line from Union Station to Denver International Airport - both lines that run centrally through District 9.

Today is a great day for the future of Denver's transportation.