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New light-rail line behind schedule, officials say

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No new opening date set

By Zac Taylor

An 18.5 mile light-rail line planned to connect Commerce City with Denver and the northern suburbs is behind schedule, officials say.

Getting design drawings approved for the new N Line is “the main contributing factor” to the delay, Ashland Vaughn, N Line project manager, said in a press release. The N Line originally was planned to open at the start of 2018, officials said.

“In any type of construction—housing, roadways, commercial buildings—there can be schedule impacts for various reasons,” Vaughn said.

Officials have not determined a new opening date, according to the release. RTD signed a $343 million construction contract with Regional Rail Partners in Westminster for the first 13 miles of the project. Regional Rail Partners is a joint venture of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. and Graham Construction LLC.

Commerce City officials are “disappointed in the delay,” Mayor Sean Ford said in an email statement.

“We look forward to learning how RTD will get this important transit corridor back on track,” Ford said.

When it’s finished, the light-rail line is expected to cost up to $910 million to run from Denver’s Union Station to a planned end at Highway 7 near Interstate 25 on the north end of Adams County.

Commerce City officials, including Mayor Sean Ford and council members, have said the rail will be a boon to development and a help to commuters in the city. In April 2016, Commerce City officials celebrated the start of the 72nd Avenue Rail Station at East 72nd Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.

Crews continue to work on the two-mile-long Skyway Bridge, Vaughn said in the release. It’s going up near Brighton Boulevard, Suncor Energy’s Commerce City refinery, Sand Creek and Interstate 270.

Crews will pour platforms at stations and will install systems along the entire light-rail alignment through the summer and fall, Vaughn said.

“There is major progress happening every day along the entire alignment,” Vaughn said.

The project schedule updates for the N Line are not related to any current commuter rail issues, according to the release. When other lines opened, some have experienced power outages and other issues at the start.