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Experts share info with Judge on RTD's request to complete G-Line tests, remove gate attendants

Judge will forward report to PUC
Posted: 9:45 PM, Feb 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-16 04:45:22Z

DENVER -- The Regional Transportation District is seeking to finish testing on the G-Line and to remove crossing gate attendants from the entire system.

On Thursday, an administrative law judge questioned RTD's general manager, the FasTracks Eagle P3 project director, and an engineer with HNTB, about a variety of issues ranging from wait times at crossings to train horns, and from gate crossing technology to crossing attendants.

"In my opinion, the system is as safe as you'll find on any system out there," said Clifford Eby, an independent contractor. "The application should be approved and the flaggers should be removed."

"They're operational and they're safe," said Dave Genova, RTD's General Manager, "and they're operating in a consistent manner.

Genova said there is no need for the flaggers anymore. He said the cost (to the contractor) is very extreme.

"It's probably several million dollars per month to maintain those flaggers out there," he said.

The flaggers were initially placed at each crossing along the University of Colorado A-Line because of software bugs plaguing the so-called "Train to the Plane."

Scott Reed, RTD's Assistant Manager for Communications, told Denver7 that the software bugs left crossing arms down much longer than usual, and that frustrated drivers would drive around them.

"The gate attendants were there to prevent that," he said.

Genova said it would be safer for the attendants if they were no longer stationed at the crossings.

He pointed to a fatal crash at one of the crossings last February, when a driver drove past the arms, then pulled onto the tracks in front of a train.

"The incredible concern, as I watched that video," he said, "is to watch the debris field fly, and watch a police officer, who was one of the attendants at the crossing, essentially running for his life as debris was flying. Fortunately, he was not hit."

Reed told Denver7 that this has been a very complicated process.

"This is the first time that any passenger rail agency has implemented Positive Train Control from the ground up, as a brand new line, and this is the first time that a transit agency has implemented a wireless grade crossing technology."

He said the administrative law judge will write a report based on Thursday's testimony and will then forward the report to the commissioners.

No word yet on when the commissioners will rule on RTD's request.