RTD says the G line to Arvada, Wheat Ridge is on hold until A line issues are fixed

Problems center around timing of crossing guards

DENVER -- The Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced Tuesday that it has stopped testing on the Gold line until it can fix ongoing issues with the University of Colorado A line.

The Gold line, or G line, is set to open this fall. It will use commuter rail to connect Wheat Ridge and Arvada to downtown Denver with stops at popular locations, like Old Towne Arvada.

"[It's] definitely a long time coming," said Arvada resident Erik Solborg. "I look forward to jumping on the train and not having to find parking downtown."

"[I'm] really excited for the G line. It will be good to get transportation downtown," said resident James Smith.

However, until the A line crossing arm problems are fixed, the G line is on hold.

The issue centers around timing and the wireless communication system used to predict the arrival of a train.

"In some cases, the train is arriving several seconds later than the design time," said RTD CEO Dave Genova. "We're working with a sense of urgency on this, and this is RTD's number one priority."

As a result of the timing issues, the Federal Railroad Administration has required flaggers to be stationed at each crossing location to ensure the safety of cars and pedestrians.

The reason this impacts the G line is that the two lines use the same technology.

RTD said the A line has a total of 13 crossings and is 20 percent residential. The G line has 17 crossings and is 80 percent residential.

"It would effect a lot more people in their homes," said Nate Currey, a spokesperson with RTD. "So, we want to make sure we have a good project ready to go and open it well."

RTD also said it is testing new software it hopes will help resolve the issue.

"We are getting very good data from what we've been able to test on the A line," said Scott Reed, RTD's general manager of communications. 

Despite the ongoing challenges, RTD still promises an on-time rollout of the G line.

"We are still targeting a fall of 2016 opening date," said Genova.

For people like Smith, who've experienced firsthand the A line delays, he said he'd rather see them get it right than on time.

"Get all of that worked out first, instead of getting stuck on a train halfway to Denver," he said.

Genova said they have issued the contract company $1.1 million in performance deductions due to the shortfalls on the A and B lines. 

RTD also said that ridership is up on the A line with more than 18,000 people riding it each weekday.

As for the B line connection up to Longmont, RTD said Tuesday that date is likely now 2038.

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