Aurora voters could be asked to pay for I-225 light rail

Metro and state politicians squeamish about asking for more taxes for delayed light-rail project

BY SARA CASTELLANOS Staff writer

AURORA |With funding for the I-225 light-rail line lagging and the need picking up speed, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan wants city lawmakers to consider asking voters next year to help fund the line from Parker Road to Fitzsimons and beyond.

The Brock family boards a train to head for a Colorado Rockies game last summer at Nine Mile Station in Aurora. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan is asking city council to consider a local tax hike to expand the line. (Heather L. Smith/The Aurora Sentinel)

So far, the only light rail station that exists in Aurora is the Nine Mile Station, and construction is under way on a project that will replace the Yale Street bridge and eventually accommodate a FasTracks light rail station at East Iliff Avenue and Blackhawk Street, where 600 surface parking spaces are currently planned.

Regional Transportation District board members have said they won’t go forward with a regional ballot item this year that would ask metro voters to raise taxes to finish the entire FasTracks project in the Denver metro area, and they’re still undecided as to whether they would ask voters in 2013.

RTD Board Member Tom Tobiassen has said that odd-year elections don’t bode well for transportation ballot issues because fewer voters turn out to vote than in even-year elections.

Hogan said he doubts that Gov. John Hickenlooper would agree to having a tax increase item on the ballot when he’s running for re-election in 2014.

“And RTD doesn’t believe in off-year elections,” Hogan told council members at the meeting. “That means the first year you can look at a tax increase is 2016, and assuming it passes, that means nothing happens until 2017.”

He said now is the time to act to finish Aurora’s FasTracks project — even if Aurora goes at it alone next year.

“If we’re serious about it, we need to start thinking about a ballot initiative of our own,” he said.

The I-225 Corridor will connect the Nine Mile Station with the planned Peoria/Smith Station and will include a total of eight stations, equaling to 10.5-miles.

  • kickstone

    Yes, let’s get it done!

  • oldaurora

    this might be a boon for new businesses!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Payer/100003664271622 Bill Payer

    Complete waste of money

  • stuck again

    Aurora has been the largest RTD tax contriibutor out side of Denver and has received the least saervice,  Now to get service we must pay more.  What an unfair system.

  • GSRider911

    This needs to be done. Increase Hotel/tourism taxes, Liquor and Tobacco tax – and who would even notice a 1 cent increase in sales tax? People need to support their community and stop complaining about taxes. “Taxes are the cost of Civilization.”

  • Carpintero

    RTD needs to change its name to DTD (Denver Transportation District).  All they’ve done for Aurora is raise our taxes to pay for transportation projects in Denver!  Why must Aurora fund this project alone while contributing to transportation projects throughout Denver?  A definite NO!

  • Greywuf

    I would support this tax only if we rescind the tax we are already paying for literail. I think it’s a crime that rails are being built everywhere except in aurora, and RTD should be held accountable.

  • Icon011

    I’d vote for it! 

  • Warrengfunk7

    I think RTD will complete the I-225 Light Rail, without a tax increase. The process with the unsolicited bid is moving forward, after it was found to meet RTD’s financial requirements. 

    Also, RTD is moving forward with trying to land a federal New Starts grant for this line. That could pay for up to 60% of it right there.

    And under construction now, is the first 1.5 miles of this extension to Aurora. and the $1 billion+ east line to DIA also will serve Aurora at Peoria Street. So it’s not even accurate to say Aurora isn’t getting anything, or that Aurora has to pay to get anything. 

    If Aurora wants to pay more, it won’t hurt matters and probably accelerate the construction.

  • LookedForIt

    It appears the reporter on this story updated the potential timeline of this effort.

    I printed out the story this morning and the first sentence read:

    “With funding for the I-225 light-rail line lagging and the need picking up speed, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan wants city lawmakers to consider asking voters this fall to help fund the line from Parker Road to Fitzsimons and beyond.”

    This afternoon, the first line reads:

    “With funding for the I-225 light-rail line lagging and the need picking up speed, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan wants city lawmakers to consider asking voters next year to help fund the line from Parker Road to Fitzsimons and beyond.”

    The original story said that it would be considered this year.  The changed story says it would be considered next year.

    I’d like to know if the reporter got it originally wrong or did the mayor change his mind this afternoon.

    With the probable referral of another tax measure this fall to extend a property tax mill levy, I was surprised to read this morning that they were considering a second tax proposal to fund FasTracks.

    This city council seems to fall all over itself to raise our taxes at every turn.

    Aurora taxpayers, did you know you have been paying for FasTracks for 7 ½ years, and have nothing to show for it?  Every purchase you make is taxed a full 1% for RTD.  0.6% is for core bus service and 0.4% is for FasTracks.

    Apparently this city council has no shame when it comes to extracting tax monies from the long-suffering taxpayers of Aurora.

     

    • GSRider911

      You heard of inflation? They’ve used the money already raised for existing projects and the projections of cost for the Aurora line were underestimated. We all want accountability for our tax dollars, but painting the City as inept doesn’t help. the RTD board is obviously trying to get this done asap, but faced with callus voters with no long term vision has kept us from being able to have the Light rail in Aurora.

  • MtnDeano

    Absolutely Aurora should forge ahead with this. This is the most critical transportation project the city can take on. In addition RTD should allow commercial development at 9 Mile Station and others, so that sales tax revenue can help fund the project. 

  • LookedForIt

    If you are interested in reading about the bill of goods that RTD sold us in 2004, read the RTD Board approved plan that was presented to voters:

    http://tatcolorado.com/FasTracks%20Plan%202004.pdf

    Look at the schedule on page 71.  This whole project was supposed to be completed by 2017.  This whole project was to be done for a 0.4% sales tax.

    The voters have been sold a bill of goods.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.
     

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