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Capital Projects Coming Online in 2016; Denver RTD Leads the Way with Five Projects Opening This Year

Public transportation agencies across the U.S. are preparing to open capital projects during 2016 in a variety of modes: commuter rail, light rail, streetcar and BRT.

Leading the way is Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), with five components of its FasTracks project opening in 2016. First was Flatiron Flyer BRT between Denver and Boulder, comprising six routes, which opened Jan. 3. (See related story.)

Three RTD commuter rail lines, all part of the Eagle P3 project, will open this year: the University of Colorado (CU) A Line, between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport, on April 22; B Line, Union Station-Westminster, the first segment of the Northwest Rail Line, in the summer; and G Line, Union Station-Arvada/Wheat Ridge, in the fall.

The R Line, a light rail extension from the current Nine Mile Station that goes through Aurora and connects to the CU A Line at the Peoria Station, will open in late 2016.

In addition, RTD is launching a new safety campaign in January and introducing new mall shuttles in the summer.
Here are some other examples of how public transit agencies are moving forward in the new year.

The city of Albuquerque is working on a BRT plan to connect east to west and provide infrastructure to enhance neighborhoods. Design work for Albuquerque Rapid Transit is expected to be completed in March, with construction scheduled to begin in May.

Nashville’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is preparing to open its fourth “BRT lite” corridor, which will operate on Nolensville Pike following the completion of the public hearing/board approval process. MTA uses the term “BRT lite” to refer to limited-stop service that operates in mixed traffic rather than dedicated lanes.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose expects to complete work on the Alum Rock-Santa Clara BRT project by the end of 2016. In the meantime, on Jan. 4 VTA began operating the new 60-foot articulated buses that will eventually run on the BRT line on a route between the Eastridge Transit Center and Palo Alto.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), Las Vegas, expects to complete work this year on its improvements to the 14-mile Flamingo Road corridor, which connects to 15 RTC routes: 11 residential, three express routes and the Deuce on the Las Vegas Strip. Elements of the project include dedicated public transit/bicycle lanes and more than 100 new bus shelters.

El Paso’s Sun Metro Brio rapid transit system (RTS) is scheduled to complete construction of its second route this spring with service beginning in the summer. The 14.5-mile Alameda Corridor will feature 29 stations, beginning at the agency’s Downtown Transfer Center and ending at its Mission Valley Transfer Center. Two additional routes—the Dyer and Montana corridors—are tentatively scheduled to be operational in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

The Kansas City Streetcar has entered the testing phase and will open to the public in the spring. The two-mile, north-south streetcar will operate free along Main Street, serving the Central Business, Crossroads Art and Power and Light districts.

The Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans expects to complete construction on the first phase of the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue Streetcar Expansion Project in the third quarter of 2016. This project includes construction of 2.6 miles of streetcar track, a dedicated bicycle lane and six sheltered streetcar stops along the route.

The Cincinnati Streetcar, scheduled to open in September, is a modern streetcar rail transit system designed to connect key neighborhoods in and around the center city on a 3.6-mile loop.

The 2.4-mile H/­Benning streetcar line in Washington, DC, operated by the District DOT, has not yet set an opening date but is expected to begin service in 2016.

Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar is in the testing stage, with plans to open this year. The route, funded through Sound Transit’s “ST2” public transit expansion plan, will connect several neighborhoods, operating with a fleet of six streetcars from Inekon, the Czech company that built the streetcars that have operated on Seattle’s South Lake Union Line since 2007.

The M-1 Rail modern streetcar project in Detroit is looking forward to completion of construction in 2016. The 3.3-mile north-south route will serve 20 stations, 16 curbside and four in the median of a major artery. M-1 Rail is a nonprofit organization leading the design, construction and future operation of the line, led and funded by private businesses and philanthropic organizations in partnership with local, state and federal governments.

Light Rail
Valley Metro Northwest Phase 1 in ­Phoenix opens March 19. The 3.2-mile extension will expand light rail north on 19th Avenue and serve 5,000 riders per day. The second part of the line, projected to open in 2026, will eventually expand light rail service west toward I-17.

Los Angeles Metro’s Foothill Gold Line Extension from Pasadena to Azusa opens March 5. The 11.5-mile extension includes six new stations: Arcadia, ­Monrovia, Duarte/City of Hope, Irwindale, Azusa Downtown and APU/Citrus College. The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority planned, designed and built the line, which it will turn over to Metro to operate and maintain.

Los Angeles Metro also is preparing to open the second phase of the Expo Line, connecting the current terminus in Culver City with Santa Monica and including seven new stations.

Seattle’s Sound Transit is preparing to open two Link light rail lines this year. University Link, a 3.15-mile line connecting the University of Washington and Capitol Hill with downtown Seattle, is scheduled to begin service early in the year. The South 200th Link Extension, due to open later in 2016, runs 1.6 miles from the current Sea-Tac ­Airport Station to South 200th Street in the city of SeaTac.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit plans to open the South Oak Cliff Blue Line Extension this year. The light rail project will extend the Blue Line south approximately 2.6 miles from Ledbetter Station toward the University of North Texas Dallas Campus and add two new stations.

Heavy Rail
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s Warm Springs Extension will add 5.4 miles of new tracks from the existing Fremont Station south to a new station in the Warm Springs District of the city of Fremont, with an optional station to be located approximately midway in the Irvington District. The Warm Springs/South Fremont Station will provide intermodal access to Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and AC Transit buses, taxi and kiss-and-ride passenger drop off areas and approximately 2,000 parking spaces. BART expects construction to be complete in spring 2016, with revenue service beginning after a testing period.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Agency is preparing to open the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway in December. This line, including stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets in Manhattan, will be the first major expansion of the New York City subway system in more than 50 years, ultimately covering 8.5 miles with 16 new stations.

Commuter and Intercity Rail
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority plans to begin commuter rail service to Wachusett Station in the fall. The project consists of a new Wachusett Station, Westminster Layover Facility and upgrades to the existing rail line to accommodate the extension of commuter rail service four miles west from Fitchburg to Wachusett.

Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) will launch service on its first phase of service—from Airport Boulevard in Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael—late in the year. The 43-mile corridor will include 10 stations. The system also has begun testing two-car train sets at the SMART Operations and Maintenance Facility and on the rail corridor.

The first phase of construction on Moynihan Station, a plan to turn the historic James A. Farley Post Office building in Manhattan into the site of an expansion of New York Penn Station, is scheduled for completion this year. The Moynihan Station Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation (a public benefit corporation of the state of New York and the Port Authority of New York New Jersey), is managing the $300 million project in cooperation with Amtrak, which ultimately will house its operations in the new station.

Facilities and Vehicles
Los Angeles Metro will open its Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations facility on Feb. 1. This building will serve as a bus maintenance, operations and service facility located in downtown Los Angeles on a site already owned by Metro. It is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, with elements including regionally sourced and/or recycled construction materials, stormwater reclamation and reuse for bus operations and washing, and low maintenance native vegetation. When complete, the facility will accommodate a fleet of 200 CNG buses.

IndyGo in Indianapolis is making plans for the June opening of a new public transit center.

The Amtrak station is Providence, RI, will reopen in the spring following a $7 million rehabilitation project.

BART plans to place its new Fleet of the Future railcars in service in the fall, following a testing period.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is preparing to receive its first all-electric bus, from New Flyer, during 2016. WMATA currently operates 1,103 buses manufactured by New Flyer and its associated companies. The new 40-foot bus operates with lithium-ion batteries.


The future 72nd Street Station of NYC Transit's Second Avenue Subway project, one of three new stations scheduled to open in December.

Photo courtesy of MTA/Patrick Cashin



An aerial shot of a test train on Los Angeles Metro's Foothill Gold Line Extension arriving at the Arcadia Station. The line from Pasadena to Azusa opens March 5.



An artist's rendering of VTA's Alum Rock-Santa Clara BRT project. VTA expects construction of the project to be completed by the end of 2016.


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