After the board of directors for Denver’s Regional Transportation District approved moving forward with a FasTracks Internal Savings Account to help fund FasTracks projects that are not fully funded, RTD staff will begin the process of implementing the plan.
The savings account is comprised of eight items that are expected to generate nearly $300 million by 2017. The funds would be used to build the North Metro Line to at least 72nd Avenue in Westminster and complete RTD’s commitment on the U.S. 36 Bus Rapid Transit project, a partnership with the Colorado Dept. of Transportation. The RTD board has been considering the strategy since the RTD staff made the recommendation in November.
“This plan will have a positive impact on building out more of the FasTracks transit program sooner rather than later,” said Board Chair Lee Kemp. “This is just one more example of how committed RTD is at finding innovative ways to complete this program.”
Any funds remaining from the account would be used to leverage potential grants or private sector contributions to help build out the remaining FasTracks projects.
Implementation of the eight items identified for the savings account total $277 million. Below are the eight items and the estimated revenue up to the listed amounts that they’re expected to generate by 2017.
1. Beginning in 2014, increase FasTracks funding to support base system operations at the rate of inflation as defined by the Consumer Price Index. Savings: $24 million.
2. Reduce FasTracks Minimum Unrestricted Fund Balance once construction milestones have been reached, the majority of the Eagle Project grant funding has been received and RTD has better information on the growth of sales and use tax. Savings: $72 million.
3. Reduce FasTracks Operations and Maintenance Fund balance from three to two months. Savings: $10 million.
4. Defer Southwest Corridor Extension Union Pacific Railroad relocation, and complete it once funding is identified for the entire project. Savings: $9 million.
5. Work to achieve project under-runs on FasTracks projects currently under contract. Savings: $15 million.
6. Sell or lease RTD properties, where possible. Savings: $20 million.
7. Request stakeholders to increase financial participation above the current level of 2.5%. Savings: To be determined.
8. Work with the state of Colorado to allow RTD to audit sales and use tax receipts and provide RTD with the ability to collect sales tax on all the same items on which the state currently collects sales tax (i.e., candy, soft drinks, cigarettes). Savings: $127 million.