Monday, December 31, 2007

Time For A Beltway Around The Springs

Seeing that COSMIX, the $150 million project to expand I25 through Colorado Springs, is about to finish I found myself wondering why Colorado Springs doesn't have have a freeway forming a ring around it. Surely this isn't a new idea on my part. Sure enough with a few Google searches it was apparent this has been talked about for decades with some of the most recent talk being The Springs Toll Road Partnership.

The Springs Toll Road Partnership plans to build a toll road in Colorado Springs, Colo., that is similar to Denver's E-470 toll road. New roads will comprise 80 percent of the new tollway, with existing roadways accounting for the remainder. The Springs Toll Road Partnership emphasizes that covering the project's $575 million construction price will not require passing costs on to taxpayers or seizing private land. A toll price for the road, which could be ready by 2012, has not been set, but the toll will reportedly only apply to newly constructed roadways. Proponents of the plan claim that the toll road would eliminate 15 minutes off the drive to the regional airport from the north. The overall road will extend 33 miles, from Gleneagle south to the airport.

This is May 2006. What has come of it since then? The last article I find is from July 2006 in the Denver Post. I haven't found a company web site regarding the project. Has it gained any traction since then?

Denver Post
Developers want to spend $300 million to build toll roads around the eastern rim of Colorado Springs - which has some of the worst congestion in the country among cities under 500,000 residents, according to one national survey.

Friday, December 28, 2007

RTD Says Happy New Year With 17% Fare Hike

Denver's RTD is ringing in the new year with a system wide fare hike that includes a 17% on local fares. One of the interesting things that came out of this was that RTD is not using local sales tax forecasts but statewide forecasts and assuming they would hold true for the Denver metro. How much would a Denver metro economic forecast cost them? $10,000? $40,000? $100k? Surely that's cheaper than not being able to properly plan for the upcoming budget year instead of being $5.5 million short and having to come up with a last minute plan. That is, it wouldn't help avoid the shortfall but it would help plan. Knowing a couple years out that tax revenues will be lower would help them do things like institute a hiring freeze up front instead of last minute layoffs.

What it leaves me wondering is what sort of other half-assed (excuse my French) predictions did they make like this? How many of their FasTracks predictions were based off of state-wide sales tax revenues and assuming the exact same would hold true for metro Denver? Were some of their ridership projections based on population growth that holds true for the metro as a whole but not the areas around lines like the Gold Line or West Corridor? After all, those areas of Arvada, Lakewood and others aren't going to be seeing 30% population growth over the next decade. Yet that is what is predicted for metro Denver. Much of that growth will be experienced in areas like Douglas and Adams counties. Areas that Fastracks barely if at all serves.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why People Voted For FasTracks?

So how many people who voted for FasTracks did so because, like Mr. Ballard, they felt they're neighbor would be riding the train and free up more space (or gas) on the streets for them to keep driving?

"I'd have been all for it," said Ballard, offering us some pop and water. "The more people that take light rail, the more gas I got for my Harley."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home Okay; Church Bad

Am I understand this correctly? Colorado law doesn't limit how close a gas or oil well can be drilled next to a home but it does limit how close they can be to a church?

Garfield County is challenging an energy company's plans to drill near several homes and a church south of Rifle, even though the company is backing off for now.

State laws limit how close wells can be located to churches, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church is nearby. Several neighbors also had complained about having a well so close to where people live, play and pray.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Only A Lawyer And A Judge

Remember the couple in Boulder that used an obscure Colorado law to take land from their neighbor without needing their neighbor's approval nor needing to compensate them? It turns out that the couple had been a lawyer and a judge. And judging from the letter they put out, they still don't get the point of the uproar is not over the legality of what they did but the morality of it. We know it's not right to forcefully take something from our neighbors and all the more so without compensating them. But McLean and Stevens don't seem to understand it. Then again, what do you expect from a lawyer and a judge other that being enamored with the letter of the law rather than the morality of it.

From CBS 4 Denver

McLean and Stevens said in the letter that they never trespassed on the Kirlins' property, they did not make the claim of adverse possession to protect a scenic view, and they did not use any connections within the court system to help their case, the Camera reported.

McLean is a former judge, and Stevens is an attorney.

"The trial was fair," the letter states. "We retired from the legal world long before the trial. We had never met the trial judge, who was appointed by Gov. Owens in the last year or two. ... The Kirlins lost and are, understandably, upset about losing, but they still have legal avenues to pursue that do not involve creating a media frenzy."

"We still hope that we can reconcile our differences with the Kirlins and restore peace in our neighborhood and community," McLean and Stevens wrote in their letter.

Susie Kirlin said she disagreed with nearly all the points made in the letter.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rail to Denver's Airport.... WHY?

By far the least expensive solution to congestion to and from the airport would be to add capacity to our freeways. And it's also the least expensive. Why are we spending 20% more to get 1/2 the delay savings from rail?

Cost Delay Saved
New freeway lanes $305 61,200
HOV lanes/BRT 337 41,900
Diesel rail 374 29,700
Electric rail 571 30,300

Capital costs in millions, delay saved is annual hours of congestion delay saved by the project. Source: pp. 37-39 of the East Corridor Major Investment Study Final Report.

SLUT Going To Improve Business?

One local business owner doesn't believe the SLUT in Seattle will improve his business in the long run. And why should he? As I mentioned there aren't any studies showing that trolleys do.

Less than two weeks before today's opening, BluWater Bistro owner Bart Evans says he was still charting new ways to work due to blocked-off streets and intermittent fencing. While he understands the promise of living through the mess is that his business will get a boost once the streetcar starts carrying carloads of customers past his restaurant, he remains skeptical.

"Honestly, in the long run, the net effect is going to be zero," he says. "I don't know if you've looked at a map of it, but it doesn't really go anywhere. I just can't imagine someone living on Eastlake taking the trolley to freakin' where?"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seattle's SLUT

Seattle is close to opening it's South Lake Union Trolley line. The 1.3 mile line cost $50.5 million to build. That is correct folks, Seattle spent $52.1 million on a rail line route that could be walked in less than half an hour, one that was already being served well by buses, and one that has not scientific proof that the existence of the line itself will improve businesses along it.

You say "That can't be true; rail is permanent and it improves business. I've heard it." But the matter of the fact that those claims are baseless. Portland and Tacoma have had trolleys for years and been unable to show if and how those operations improved revenues for local businesses or how they spurred additional development. And that is part of the key, additional development.

Tacoma's trolley has been operating for over 4 years. Portland's for over 6 years years. In this day when we are bombarded with countless studies how is that no one's studied either of these lines? Trolley's are the hottest thing since.... well, whatever was hot in 1880. They're a late 19th century technology. For some reason they're back in flavor with the urban elite so surely if there were concrete economic gains to them, they'd be talking about them wouldn't they? Often times it's the lack of addressing an issue that makes me the most skeptical.

The 1.3 mile line is projected to carry a 300,000 riders in it's first year. Annual operating costs are expected to be $1.5 million with projected fare box collections still leaving the city short $1.1 million every year. Now these aren't huge numbers for a large city like Seattle (nor Denver nor Aurora nor Colorado Springs). However this is for just one line that operates on just 1.3 miles of track. This is one line that was already served by buses.

How many riders were already riding the bus? How long did that trip take? How much did it cost to operate them? How much business were those riders already generating? And give it's location will SLUT simply become a glorified taxi service for people attending events downtown and looking for cheaper parking on the north end of the line?

What does this mean for Denver? It appears that if we call a spade a spade, we'll not only need to come up with $40 million per mile to build street cars (that is, no cost advantage or LRT) and that annual operating costs versus fares is going to necessitate about another $1 million a year to operate it. So projects like extending the current light rail line at 30th & Downing a couple miles through 5 points or a couple miles around downtown will mean coming up with a hundred million or more to build the project and a couple million a year to operate it. Assuming that 10 police officers cost @ a million a year, which would do Five Points more good? Have another 10 - 20 officers a year to address their needs or a street car line? More so, since when did anyone ever show that current bus service is not meeting needs? The city of Denver recently raised taxes again to try to meet existing infrastructure needs. Why do we want to do it again?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Denver's GDP

According to Carpe Diem, Denver's GDP if it were a country would be worth $118 billion. How big is that? It's as large as Nigeria's economy. It's larger than Egypt and New Zealand's economies, also.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Frankstown and Louivers Fight Abandonment Request

Douglas County has asked that a few towns be declared abandoned by the state of Colorado. 2 of them, Franktown and Louviers are fighting the request. It seems it hinges on one issue which, naturally, the article fails to take any time to address. Have Franktown and Louviers been carrying out these functions lately?

Coffman said the only measure of abandonment in state statutes is whether the town held an election during the past five years and whether officials performed government functions, such as passing a budget.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Denver's Regional Growth Boundary Expands

If you didn't catch it, the project to develop the old Lowry Bombing and Gunnery range got the green light. The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) approved the project by expanding the regional growth boundary to include the area with the old range. Opponents objecting to the plan raised many issue, mainly that of water supplies.

What hasn't been mentioned is how not expanding the urban growth boundary will affect housing prices. Heavily planned urban areas such as San Francisco and Vancouver have extremely high housing prices. Vancouver, a metro area with a smaller population than Denver-Aurora, as of 2005 had a median housing price of $525,000! Only a 1/4 of new housing within metro Vancouver's growth boundary is single family housing. Could it be opponents to this project don't want the growth boundary expanded because they won't be able to force their vision, one like Vancouver where freeways end at the city boundary and the lion share of new housing is multi-unit, through the DRCOG is the boundary continues to expand?

If you're wondering why the expansion is needed, the state of Colorado's population grew by over 10% the first 6 years of the decade. If the population is growing, the need for urban areas is growing.

Note : Keep in mind that calling an area urban in this context doesn't mean urban in the sense of old neighborhoods of Denver. It includes the type of development we commonly refer to as suburban these days.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Is There Money In Transit?

Is there money in transit? It looks like we should be asking the German company Siemens that company. It appears that over $2 billion in Siemens money is in question and may have been used for bribes. Siemens is heavily involved in transit projects in the US including light rail vehicles for Denver's RTD.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Elevated Train Up I-70

Is this what sold the proponents?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Less And Less For More And More

Eva Kosinski does a nice job of debunking the myth that FasTracks was a grass roots effort. It wasn't. There were well organized, non-local political groups lobbying in the state for years before the 2004 vote. In fact, when their original push didn't work in the late 1990s, they re-examined their approach. One of those approaches was to work the PR channels to give the voters the impression that this was a grass-roots effort.

I think the point is a bit lost by the other point that Eva tries to hit on, that as the costs of FasTracks are skyrocketing, it is delivering less and less. Are construction price increases part of the issue? Yes. But so was an overly optimistic sales tax revenue projection. The same with underestimating the costs of building the system right the first time. The result is building smaller stations that accommodate less cars, right of way that require more on-going maintenance, single track construction and other such things. These will help us now but how long before they come back to the voters for another billion or two to rebuild stations? How much longer before they're asking for more funding dollars to address "larger than anticipated" maintenance costs resulting from damage from storm run-off?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another FasTracks Issue

Just in case it wasn't annoying enough that the original FasTracks budget assumed that CDOT would simply give away for free land they had the foresight to buy decades ago, now Jefferson County has decided that if Fastracks can't deliver what was promised at the time of the vote in the form of a double-tracked West Corridor, they won't endorse the project.

For myself, this is a classic case of the claims of LRT's capacity needing a HUGE asterisk. It's bad enough that the capacity is far lower than freeway lanes. But it's based on the assumption that 2 tracks will be built. The main reason for building light rail instead of the far cheaper Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is that you can squeeze out more ridership (about 25% more capacity). Once you remove that 2nd line, that extra capacity, you have removed the main reason for using light rail on the West Corridor.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fastracks : More Pollution?

As expected, the FasTracks line from Denver to Boulder to Longmont, the Northwest Rail Corridor, will be using diesel to power it's trains. In a way I'm amazed that it's taken this long to officially declare it to be the case. It's simply not safe to run light rail trains with freight and would be very expensive to set up the LRT well enough so that would not be an issue. The question is, with these trains powered by diesel will they be producing more pollution than if it's riders were in buses? Their own cars?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Denver City Council Dissing The Voters?

Thank you David Harsanyi for making sure the public is aware of this issue.

Should you ever wonder why approval ratings for politicians hover slightly above that of Chinese toy manufacturers, place your gaze upon the Denver City Council.

The council continues to prove it does not believe Denverites are capable of making intelligent decisions. (And judging from some of the characters on the council, we can concede that point on occasion.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


The funny thing about Musgrave's quote below is that the NRC has never said they plan to upsurp the authority of these departments. Or is Musgrave just upset because the state health department has little authority when it comes to the proposed Uranium mine near Nunn, Colorado?

"I vehemently oppose any effort by the NRC to usurp the authority of state
health departments and the Environmental Protection Agency over water quality,"
she wrote, adding that: "mining operations must not be allowed, under any
circumstances, to flaunt either state or EPA water quality standards."

Monday, August 06, 2007

My question is why isn't the current all-time high tax revenues covering the current ongoing maintainence costs? Is question 1 to help cover new costs incurred by these "improvements"?,1299,DRMN_15_5660880,00.html

The mayor's proposal
Mayor John Hickenlooper will ask voters Nov. 6 to approve a 2.5 mill levy to pay for deferred maintenance and a $550 million package of bonds to rejuvenate the city's ailing infrastructure.
Voters will consider eight separate questions. If all are approved, the owner of a home valued at $255,000 would pay $61.66 more in property taxes annually. The Denver City Council will consider the mayor's proposal on first reading tonight.

• Question 1: Tax increase
Would increase property taxes and generate $27 million annually to pay for ongoing maintenance.

• Question 2: Refurbishing buildings
The city wants to spend $70.1 million to improve buildings, from replacing windows to remodeling rest-rooms.

• Question 3: Health and human services
Hickenlooper's proposal calls for $48.6 million for such projects as $3.5 million to expand the Westwood Child Development Center.

• Question 4: Parks and recreation centers
This measure calls for $93.4 million for such projects as completing the restoration of the Greek Amphitheatre in Civic Center.

• Question 5: Public safety
A new police crime lab and a new fire station in the Lowry neighborhood are among the $65.2 million worth of projects in this category.

• Question 6: Streets, transportation and public works
Voters would be asked to approve $149.8 million for street improvements and other public works projects.

• Question 7: Libraries
The mayor is proposing to spend $51.9 million to build three new libraries and to maintain and upgrade other library buildings.

• Question 8: Cultural facilities
The Boettcher Concert Hall and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science would get a combined $70 million for renovations and other construction projects.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

HOT Lanes Are Successful

When was the last time a light rail project had nearly 3 times projected ridership?,1299,DRMN_15_5639244,00.html

Planners initially figured 500 solo drivers would pay tolls during the average weekday rush hour and that the operation would bring in $80,000 a month after the first few months.

But since January, morning rush hour has seen a daily average of between 1,425 and 1,861 solo drivers per month. Averages in the evening are similar. The total number of paying customers has ranged from roughly 72,000 to 90,000 a month.

The take for the Colorado Department of Transportation: between $144,216 and $181,917 in monthly toll revenue.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Colorado Earmarks

Want to see how Colorado compares to other states when it comes to federal earmarks? If so, take a look here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Enforced Harmony

Why is it that these association's are allowed to do this? An upside down flag is construed as being not ok? What if she flew a Tibet flag and her neighbor was a Chinese national and was offended? Vice verse? How well written is the association's "patriotic and political expression policy"? It would be one thing if this was written up as how things can look. That is, flags must be properly flown, the mailbox should be within 2 feet of the driveway and the same color as the house etc. But this is a policy that isn't about appearances but going into the much more subjective area of expression. Why is a homeowners association allowed to try to force what it calls "harmony in community"? Why is a homeowners association doing this?

The Cambridge Park Homeowners Association, which represents owners of 107 patio homes, doesn't agree with Hammer's perspective.

On Wednesday night, the association's board met to hear her response to its notice of noncompliance. The board took no action, and board members refused to comment.

The board was minus one member: Hammer's husband, Doug, a board member who did not participate in the meeting but supports her.

The association board notified Beth Hammer in an April 24 letter that the flag display is against federal flag code and is in violation of the association's "patriotic and political expression policy."

The letter gave her a week to right the flag or face fines that appear to range from $25 to $500.

"Living in a community association offers many advantages to the homeowner, but at the same time, imposes some restrictions," said the letter signed by association manager Melissa Keithly.

"These restrictions are not meant as an inconvenience or an invasion of your freedom, but rather as a means of maintaining harmony in your community," the letter continued.

Thomas Jefferson

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bike Path To Nowhere?

Andrew Roth is too quick to criticize money spent on a new non-automobile right-of-way on a bridge project in Virginia. It's easy to dub it a bridge to nowhere type project based on current ridership. But it fails to ask some key questions. How much traffic is there now DESPITE the design of things. As someone who frequently bikes to work, the library, Super Target and other places I avoid routes that require me to ride on busy streets during rush hour. How does Roth know that the reason for such low ridership is not that there are a lack of users but that people avoid it because it's not safe to use. Roth also fails to asses the overall costs of the bridge. How much money is being spent for how many cars? I'm not saying this because as a rider I want special privileges. It's just that when you've been out there dealing with drivers that try running you off the road, pass you from behind only to take a right turn in front of you and you crash into them and other incidents, you become weary of putting your butt on the line if you don't have to. And you become aware that 1/2 the battle of getting people out walking, jogging and riding is providing them with safe routes.

Private Operators Reduce Costs By Over 10%

If having private companies do this saves this much money, why don't we do it more often?

FasTracks is now priced at nearly $6.2 billion, largely because of the rising cost of construction materials and additions to the project. RTD anticipates collecting $5.5 billion from the FasTracks sales tax, grants, loans and other sources. Managers say the best way to reduce the $670 million gap is to seek out private firms to take over some or all of the work on at least four of the rail corridors.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fastraks = Pollution Reduction

With 3/4th of Fastracks riders being existing transit riders (that is, moving them from buses onto trains), how is this sort of pollution reduction claim possible?

FasTracks will make it easy for people to come into Denver for work and fun while decreasing pollution. It is estimated that FasTracks would reduce carbon dioxide pollution every year by 1.5 million pounds. We have proven in Denver that if light rail is built, it will be used. Of the three completed rail projects, all have ridership far greater than initial projections.

And to boot, what were those initial projections? My experience in Minneapolis with the Hiawatha line was that in the late 1990s when there was the initial hard push to get that LRT line built, they were using higher projection numbers than they were using in as the funding was finalized. And later when they met those first "initial" projections, they claimed it was doing better than projected when in reality they were at the level that they had first said they would be.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Wild Oats and Whole Foods Thwarted

This is why baseball needs it's anti-trust status. Things get so narrowly defined that it's insane. I wonder if Wal-Mart's behind some of the political pressure to nit pick this deal to deal. Or maybe it's the citizens of Boulder wanting to keep their mega-posh-food store "local"?

The Federal Trade Commission wants to block the merger of Wild Oats Markets with Whole Foods, predicting that it would lead to "higher prices, reduced quality and fewer choices for consumers." Never mind that three-quarters of natural and organic products are sold by conventional supermarkets and other mass-market outlets. For purposes of assessing the merger, the FTC has decided to ignore all those competitors, focusing just on stores that not only sell natural and organic foods but do so in an environment similar to what shoppers experience at Wild Oats and Whole Foods:

"Premium natural and organic supermarkets seek a different customer than do traditional grocery stores," the F.T.C. said. "Whole Foods' and Wild Oats' customers are buying something more than just the food product—they are seeking a shopping 'experience,' where environment can matter as much as price."

Market definitions this narrow, designed to exclude just about every company except those involved in the deal, make it possible to reject any merger as anticompetitive.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Colorado Oil Shale

But what if we used nuclear, solar and wind to power the process? What then would be the environmental costs?

Colorado and Utah have as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates combined.

That's not science fiction. Trapped in limestone up to 200 feet (61 meters) thick in the two Rocky Mountain states is enough so-called shale oil to rival OPEC and supply the U.S. for a century.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., the two biggest U.S. energy companies, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are spending $100 million a year testing new methods to separate the oil from the stone for as little as $30 a barrel. A growing number of industry executives and analysts say new technology and persistently high prices make the idea feasible.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More On The New Cost of Fastracks

More news has come on on how RTD plans to deal with it's growing cost of building Fastracks. The costs have grown from the original $4.7 billion presented to voters when they passed bonding to $6.5 billion. The approach appears to break down as follows :

a) Project Cuts - They're planning on keeping all corridors and the length on those as planned. However, they're looking to make all sorts of cuts to how those lines are built. They're looking at making stations smaller so they can only handle 3-car trains. They're taking out previously planned pedestrian bridges. Drainage plans will only be capable of handling 5 year storms. They're making service cut backs such as running trains every 15 minutes in places they had originally proposed running them every 5 minutes.

b) More Money - RTD is looking to now ask the Federal government for $1.42 billion in funding (@50% more than originally planned). Privatization is on the cards with private investors able to operate the heavy rail commuter lines. They're also looking at issuing more bonds.

What does this mean? Some of the cutbacks are likely to result in higher maintenance costs. Service will also be less convenient whether it will be small issues such pedestrian access reduced or it just taking a lot more time to commute with trains running less frequently. And if ridership grows? Money will have to be put into rebuilding stations to handle longer trains.

Issuing new bonds will mean it will take longer to retire the bonds. Last year RTD issued $600 million in bonds instead of $200 million to address lower than fore casted sales tax revenues. They're looking to add even more to those bonding issues. With the large number of transit projects asking the federal government for money, it's not clear how much of the larger federal contribution Fastracks will be able to obtain.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

How Much Of FasTracks Will We Get?

As the FasTracks program moves forward, it'll be interesting to see how much of it lives up to the original $4.7 billion system the voters actually approved. The main problem is that the project is already $2 billion over budget. To compound the issue collection of the sales tax has been slower originally claimed. At the lower pace, it will come up a $1 billion short. This means RTD needs to find new funding sources for the project and ways to save money.

The West Corridor is the Fastracks line that will open. It's planned on being completed early in 2013 (8 1/2 years after funding was approved). But it's running into problems. It's already $113 million over it's $511.8 million budget (20% over budget; note : RTD is telling the Feds that the projected costs are $593 million). They looked at several alternatives for this and other lines but most of them don't meet legal requirements. Other changes such as modifying the drainage system so it no longer built to handle 100 year storms (likely to happen once every 100 years but that doesn't mean you can't have them more frequently) to only capable of properly handling run-off from five year storms will save $4 million in upfront construction costs but will likely result in higher maintenance costs in the future. They're also looking at building part of the line as single track (will slow down operations and increase risks of accidents), not building some pedestrian bridges at stations and not installing security equipment.

To compound the problem, as Fastracks slowly moves forward more and more communities across the US are queuing up for Federal funding. There are literally hundreds of projects in the works right now that are planning on getting Federal money to cover half of their construction costs. So far there are less than 30 that have qualified for New Starts Funding (section 5309 funds). Currently only the West Corridor has been appropriated $4.9 million of the $35 million recommended in News Starts Funding. How much will the West Corridor get in the end for it's FFGA (Federal Funding Grant Agreement)? If it's anything less than the $290.6 million RTD is asking for, will it necessitate even more cuts on the West Corridor or even other lines? It's not clear with one source saying that the original plan was for the Federal government to cover only $815 million of the $4.7 billion costs. This would mean that they're planning on using over 1/3 of their federal funding for just one line. It may also mean that they're planning on more federal funding down the road than they originally said they would seek. Either way with some projections showing that planned requests from transit projects across the country being 5 times more than what Federal funding is expected to be available, it's going to be tough to get every penny they're planning on getting.

So how is RTD going to come up with the money? The referendum that was passed did promise "increased bus service". It's unlikely they could make cuts in other areas to such as bus service without losing a law suit. But the referendum didn't promise light rail or specific improvements on the proposed corridors. Some of that was because they were planning heavy rail (aka commuter rail) on some corridors such as the line from Denver to Boulder to Longmont and the DIA line. But with it being common for these sort of projects to face cost overruns, could they also have done it so they could cut corners later? If they build the Gold Line as a street car line and offer less frequent service as they're proposing to do, there isn't much the voters can likely do. Even though it will mean the service will be less likely to get drivers out of cars and reduce congestion. As Jon Caldara, a form RTD board chairman recently asked, isn't it time for RTD to say they were wrong?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Will The DMC Convention Hurt?

The Sports Economist points out some recent questioning of the benefits and costs of hosting the Democratic National Convention. They point out that the 2005 NBA All-Star game didn't have the impact it was touted to bring with many people who would normally come downtown staying away while it was occuring.

Worse, other recent political conventions have fallen fall short of their original projections such as with Boston.

City officials estimated a net gain of $163.3 million in both direct and indirect benefits as a result of the convention. But the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston, a public policy think tank, calculated a much lower gain -- $14.8 million.

The difference stems from a disagreement over costs associated with events canceled because of the convention, such as a parade of tall sailing ships.
Taking into account all the costs many are saying the benefits for the city will be closer to $20 million. This seems much more likely than the committee's claims of $200 million. And when taking into consideration that the city is busy raising $80 million dollars to pay for this event, it hardly seems worth it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resonable Snow Removal

What changes can Denver and other cities and counties make to their snow removal practices that still make sense given how frequently the snow melts away?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Denver's Snow Woes

It's nice to see Hickenlooper (Can we just call him Mayor H?) pitching in and encouraging people to get out and shovel and help those who need help. But what I'd really like to see is the city get out and cite residents and businesses for not clearing their sidewalks. A bit tough when you get 2 blizzards? Sure. But during other snow falls I found several places where the sidewalks weren't cleared and despite Denver's generally mild winter, it was downright dangerous for folks. And seeing that Denver hasn't enforced it's Snow Removal Route no-parking ordinances for a decade or two (one paper said 9 years, the other said 1983), I doubt they're doing much about the sidewalks. We don't just need people who care but a city that sets a minimal level of expectations for ALL citizens.