Aurora voters could be asked to pay for I-225 light rail


AURORA |With funding for the I-225 light-rail line lagging and the need picking up speed, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan wants city lawmakers to consider asking voters next year to help fund the line from Parker Road to Fitzsimons and beyond.

The Brock family boards a train to head for a Colorado Rockies game last summer at Nine Mile Station in Aurora. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan is asking city council to consider a local tax hike to expand the line. (Heather L. Smith/The Aurora Sentinel)

So far, the only light rail station that exists in Aurora is the Nine Mile Station, and construction is under way on a project that will replace the Yale Street bridge and eventually accommodate a FasTracks light rail station at East Iliff Avenue and Blackhawk Street, where 600 surface parking spaces are currently planned.

Regional Transportation District board members have said they won’t go forward with a regional ballot item this year that would ask metro voters to raise taxes to finish the entire FasTracks project in the Denver metro area, and they’re still undecided as to whether they would ask voters in 2013.

RTD Board Member Tom Tobiassen has said that odd-year elections don’t bode well for transportation ballot issues because fewer voters turn out to vote than in even-year elections.

Hogan said he doubts that Gov. John Hickenlooper would agree to having a tax increase item on the ballot when he’s running for re-election in 2014.

“And RTD doesn’t believe in off-year elections,” Hogan told council members at the meeting. “That means the first year you can look at a tax increase is 2016, and assuming it passes, that means nothing happens until 2017.”

He said now is the time to act to finish Aurora’s FasTracks project — even if Aurora goes at it alone next year.

“If we’re serious about it, we need to start thinking about a ballot initiative of our own,” he said.

The I-225 Corridor will connect the Nine Mile Station with the planned Peoria/Smith Station and will include a total of eight stations, equaling to 10.5-miles.