After 6 years in construction and 14 years since being approved as part of Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks plan, the RTD N-line is almost ready to start running.
Sept. 21 marks the grand opening of the newest commuter rail line, which will provide service from Union Station through Denver, Commerce City, Northglenn, Thornton and eventually north Adams County.
“The new line brings much-anticipated transit options to people north of Denver to travel to downtown Denver and connect to Denver International Airport,” said Lisa Trujillo, project outreach manager for RTD. “The N Line is a catalyst for community revitalization and development, providing an opportunity for local jurisdictions to enhance land use around transit stations.”
RTD is predicting that in its opening year, average weekly ridership could hit as many as 9,500 riders, growing to nearly 22,000 by 2040.
Unlike other commuter rail lines, the N-line will be the first that RTD will run directly.
Trujillo added that while the construction of the line has faced its share of challenges, including the 2008 recession's effect on sales tax revenues that caused the agency to extend project schedules, RTD received an unsolicited proposal from Graham Contracting Limited in 2013 that expedited the N Line project schedule.
“Every major infrastructure project experiences unforeseen challenges and the N Line is no exception,” Trujillo said. “But RTD and the project contractor were able to work through those challenges and complete the project.”
The budget to construct the line from Union Station to 124th Avenue came out to $832 million, which included the purchase of rail cars, right-of-way acquisition, design and construction, as well as the integration into the existing system.
RTD is currently planning a few different options for holding the grand opening activities due to the “uncertainty and ever-changing factors with the pandemic.” Regardless of exactly how it is held, RTD is planning to stream the event.
Following the grand opening ceremony the line will open for public use for free for a week, with capacity limits and social distancing in mind. Fares will begin to be collected on Sept. 28.
According to RTD, N-line riders will be able to take advantage of a six-month Promotional Fare Pilot Program from Sept. 28 through March 28, 2021. This program offers a local fare for one-way travel on the entire line.