Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Light Rail Moves Ahead in Denver as Mile High City Sets Pace for Public Transport Development in the West

Without question, Denver -- also known as the Mile High City in reference to its altitude of 5,280 feet above sea level -- is known far and wide as a leader in the renewable energy sector. But what is perhaps less well known is the commitment the city and the Denver metropolitan area have made to building out an impressive and expansive light rail system.

I was reminded of this recently when I drove from Denver west to Golden, a city of perhaps 20,000 at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. As one leaves Denver and begins to drive west on U.S. Highway 6 the highway is surrounded on the north and south by houses and retail developments. However, the farther west you drive it becomes apparent that this corridor will soon be served by a 12.1 mile light rail rail running from Golden to the Denver and ultimately to what will be the regional transportation hub in downtown Denver.

The photos attached to this blog show various bridges that are currently under construction as builders focus on completing the West Corridor project before Jan. 1, 2013. For more information on the West Corridor project, please click here. Moreover, there are other planned lines in the process of being developed.

To be sure, building out a light rail system in a metropolitan area that is in many places already developed is a tall order. There are no shortage of controversies related to the cost of the system and the priority of which lines should be built first. But suffice it to say, Denver and the surrounding area are well along in making the city one of the most transit friendly locales in the American west.

One of the reasons to point this out here is that it reflects the vibrant, forward looking attitude shared by many in Colorado. The energy and vitality illustrated in this project captures, in just one way, the culture and investment in the future that students find in Denver and in Colorado. Living and studying in a city and region with high aspirations gives all of us hope that our transport future will look better than the reality of today's transport options. This is vital to protecting and preserving the Colorado and western way of life, portrayed in the final photo taken of the foothills just a few miles north of where the West Corridor is being developed.

Denver as a city and a "state of mind" are on the move and part of the overall excitement here is reflected in the high quality of environmental and natural resources offerings at the Sturm College of Law.

--Don Smith

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