RTD is continuing to push for the eminent domain acquisition of the Owens Corning Plant on the Denver/Adams County border here:
despite indications from the company that they may close the plant completely if forced to relocate. The company says it could cost upwards of $80 million and three years to rebuild the facility which makes roofing materials. The plant employs 100 people and others who supply the company locally. RTD wants to use the land of a maintenance facility for its commuter rail trains. They originally wanted to use the site of their current maintenance facility at 31st Street and Ringsby here, but neighbors, especially those at the new TAXI development complained and RTD acquiesced. So basically we have the ultimate war of the classes: yuppies in their new lofts or working class manufacturing workers. Not quite that simplistic I know, but these decisions RTD will have to make have real consequences.
For one, the Public Private Partnerships that RTD uses to fund and build FasTracks may be under peril if RTD cannot figure out some key issues about its build-out. According to the Denver Post, out-going RTD director Cal Marsella, said $1 billion in PPP financing could be delayed because of questions over the maintenance facility, a lawsuit by rail activists that could prevent Union Station from being built, and uncertainty over whether the federal government will provide funding to FasTracks for the DIA line.
The RTD board has already decided to wait until 2010 to ask taxpayers for an additional tax increase to build FasTracks on time. With Cal Marsella leaving at the end of the month, RTD is also faced with basically having no leader organizing this whole mess. Where does that leave FasTracks? Nobody knows for now, though apparently RTD and Owens Corning our trying to work out some kind of deal. But again this shows that RTD has a problem with anticipating problems before they become huge messes. I mean shouldn't RTD have worked out these issues before they even asked taxpayers for money in the first place? RTD's inability to anticipate imperils FasTracks completely. I no longer have any confidence that the system will be completed on time or at all (except for perhaps the already under-construction West Line). RTD says that it still believes it can build the system on time by 2017, but that promise is looking emptier by the day.