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Behind the scenes: I-225 Rail Line celebrating progress event

On April 30, 2015 RTD marked progress on the I-225 Rail Line. This light rail project was approximately 60 percent complete and scheduled to open in 2016.

We decided to hold the event at the future 13th Avenue Station because it had the most space.

13th-Avenue-Station
13th Avenue Station
Some worried that it was too much of a construction site, but it all worked out very well.

The date for the “Connecting Aurora Through Rail – Celebrating Progress” event was picked months ago, but I had the adage “April showers bring May flowers” in the back of my mind. The week before the event, it did rain. The site for the event was a muddy mess. Luckily the contractor for the project, Kiewit Infrastructure Company, filled in the event site with dirt and packed it down to make a level surface for everyone who attended.

At these events, RTD likes to have speakers participate in something to mark the milestone.

Matt-Druffel
Matt Druffel

For a groundbreaking, it’s the quintessential shovels digging into the ground and turning over the dirt. For a couple of FasTracks groundbreaking events, construction equipment stabbed into the earth. In the case of the Gold Line groundbreaking, “prospectors” used pick axes to honor the gold history of the project.

There’s also an activity for halfway or progress events. For the West Rail Line, a high school band walked across the new pedestrian bridge over the Lakewood Gulch at the Denver-Lakewood border. To celebrate 50 percent completion on the Eagle project, speakers poured colored sand half of the way in a tall vase.

Here at the I-225 Rail Line project office, we turned to Office Engineer Matt Druffel. He jokes that he is the director of product development because we rely on his creativity so much. He came up with the idea of having the speakers interlock pieces of wooden rail (he’s a woodworker) into one long piece. For I-225 Rail Line Opening Day, we hope to cut a divot into the rail and add a train wheel on top.

R-Line
The R Line
The office team got to vote on a color to stain the blocks. I thought natural wood would look nice, but majority rules and the decision was made to have the wood stained ebony. It turned out looking great on the FasTracks red tablecloth the day of the event.

This event was also the introduction to the R Line and its lime green color. Once the I-225 Rail Line is completed, RTD will call it the R Line and on the agency’s system map it will be designated in lime green. It will originate at Lincoln Station and end up at Peoria Station. These symbolized the building blocks of the whole RTD system.

The weather that day was gorgeous; not a cloud in sight. Around 200 people showed up to hear RTD Directors Tom Tobiassen, Barbara Deadwyler and Claudia Folska, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, CDOT Region 1 Transportation Director Tony DeVito and RTD Assistant General Manager for Capital Programs Richard (Rick) Clarke speak about collaboration, partnership and coordination of building this $686 million project.

What a great way to celebrate progress on RTD’s newest light rail line!