President Richard Voith blogged about Denver's transit-oriented transformation.
In 1990, The City of Denver had 468,139 people, and 237,926 jobs. Downtown Denver was a sleepy place largely devoid of people in the evening. Only a handful of people lived downtown back then.
The area surrounding the downtown was, like many cities, home to low and moderate income residents while growth was concentrated in the suburban towns surrounding Denver: the eastern suburb of Aurora became the third largest city and the western suburb of Lakewood became the fourth largest. The Denver metropolitan area was a decidedly auto-oriented place; there was no rail transit in Denver and its once proud Union Station was in disrepair, seeing only one long-distance train each way per day.
But Denver created a vision; note the active tense. Local leaders sought to make the Denver metropolitan area into something great. They decided to build a new airport and a new transit system. In the early 1990s, Denver took its first steps towards establishing a light rail transit system in the region, and in 1994 the Central Corridor, a light rail line through Denver's Five Points district, opened without the aid of tax increases or federal funds. The same year, the Regional Transportation District
(RTD) received permission from the Federal Transit Administration
(FTA) to begin preliminary engineering and environmental impact statement for the Southwest Light Rail Project
. In 1996, the FTA awarded $120 million which was augmented by $18 milling in Highway "flex" funds for the new light rail line. Construction began in 1997 and the line opened in July of 2000. Denver never looked back.
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