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FasTracks + DIA + Westin Hotel = new meaning to multi-modal


Add “sleep mode” to “multi-modal” and you’ll get a whole new kind of project integration with the FasTracks commuter train station now being designed at Denver International Airport.

RTD and DIA planners are working together so that it will be as easy for the public to get to a room or suite at a brand new Westin Hotel as to move between the FasTracks East Corridor trains and the airline ticket counters and baggage carousels.

If it were a movie, it might be “Planes, Trains and Mattresses.”

Even before DIA opened 15 years ago, both the rail access and the hotel were on the wish list for DIA, the world’s 10th busiest airport. Now they’re coming together simultaneously, as RTD is poised to select the contractor team to build the FasTracks East Corridor as part of its Eagle P3 Project and Denver is in the process of awarding a construction management contract for the 500-room Westin Hotel.

DIA planners are working to weave a seamless access – vertically and horizontally – from the FasTracks train station to the hotel lobby and to the airline facilities. When completed, the blend of these three facilities will offer users much more ease of access than any of them could provide separately.

“We want to create a civic space that ties together all these essential areas,” said Sally Covington, DIA’s Deputy Manager of Aviation for Marketing. “The integration of all three of these elements is absolutely key.”

The FasTracks East Corridor station at DIA is being built by the airport as part of Denver’s local match for RTD’s FasTracks program. It is an element of DIA’s South Terminal Redevelopment Program, which will add the hotel and FasTracks station to an expansion on the south side of the landmark Jeppesen Terminal. That in turn is part of DIA’s overall master plan that projects, by the end of this decade, a seventh runway and expansions of Concourses A, B and C to add space for 50 aircraft on the apron.

The Denver City Council will soon consider a $150 million contract with M.A. Mortenson Co. to be the construction manager and general contractor for the Westin. While the city would own the hotel, it intends to hire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to be the operator. Starwood operates the Westin at downtown’s Tabor Center as well as the newly renovated Sheraton Hotel on the 16th Street Mall.

Kim Day, Denver’s Manager of Aviation, estimated the hotel project would generate 1,000 construction jobs along with 225 permanent jobs after the Westin opens in 2013.

RTD’s FasTracks program, meanwhile, is estimated to generate 2,413 average annual jobs during construction through this decade – 4,000 jobs at its peak – and nearly 2,600 new permanent jobs when it’s completed.

The East Corridor commuter rail portion of the Eagle P3 Project is scheduled to open no later than 2016. The RTD Board is expected to select a private team on June 15 to finance, design and build the Eagle Project, which includes the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge and a segment of the Northwest Rail Corridor to south Westminster.

Upon completion, the selected team would also operate and maintain service on these corridors under contract to RTD for 40 years. P3 stands for public-private partnership and is one of the innovative strategies RTD is employing to deliver the $6.7 billion FasTracks program within the decade.