How I regret voting FOR FasTracks in 2004–I even helped circulate petitions to get the issue on the ballot. Silly me, being a longtime sales tax watchdog. Did I really want to pay a full 1.0% sales tax for getting RTD table scraps on the northern fringe of the district? And now they’re going to ask for another 0.4%? Heaven sakes, before we know it, our total sales tax will be 10% just like liberal infested Chicago!
In Longmont we’ve always been destined for a lousy deal with the FasTracks plan, yet we pay the same hefty RTD sales tax as someone living in central Denver who has been enjoying the use of light rail for nearly 10 years.
Like many voters, I fell for the propaganda and “cute little trains” that I had sampled at the beginnings of light rail in the Denver Platte Valley. Having many family members who live in the south Denver metro area, I eagerly accompanied them on light rail several times to downtown sports events in the early 2000s. Pretty cool ride, I thought at the time.
Of course, the proposed Northwest Corridor with its heavy rail on restricted BNSF tracks is a far cry from what’s been done in Denver–especially the Longmont spur. What northern Colorado commuter is going to want to come into Longmont and park (with fee), take a train to the Boulder transit village, then get on another train back to Denver? I figure the whole convoluted process could take up to two hours with all the stops and exchanges. I’d hate to guess what the parking and fares would total, just for one way.
I’m not a commuter, but when I have to go to downtown Denver I’d much rather hop in my car and drive down there in 50 minutes or so, depending on traffic. I-25 driving is not as bad as FasTracks advocates claim, and the highway will soon be three-lane from Longmont southward (eventually from Ft. Collins) with a new interchange at Hwy 66. We’ve already got the new interchange at Hwy 119, completed several years ago.
Former Colorado Governor Bill Owens points out that a full build of the FasTracks plan will only reduce metro vehicle-miles traveled by less than 1.0%. Owens favors a T-Rex type model to meet the metro area transit needs. It would translate to roughly half of transportation tax monies going toward highway improvements and dedicated bus lanes, and the other half for key light rail corridors. It’s an efficient and much less costly strategy indeed.
Another thing that’s troubling with the FasTracks push is its growing connotation with the progressive far left in Colorado. You know these folks (like the Bloc of 4 on Longmont Council) by their over-the-top environmentalism, big spending, taxes, and debt; and basic desire of government control of our lives. Buzzwords like “smart growth” and “new urbanism” are often heard with FasTracks advocacy. It’s the mantra that cars are bad, suburbs and development are very bad, and people are to be crammed into high-density cities so they can walk and bike and use mass transit.
Count me as a Longmonter and American who does not want to be told how to live, what light bulbs to use, how big my house size is, or how my personal property is used. I certainly do not want to be forced to pay for a transportation method that doesn’t make practical sense for my community.