Denver, CO–NYSE, TSX:STN
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) recently announced the opening of its newest commuter rail corridor, the N line. The new rail line—the first electrified commuter rail line that RTD will operate—adds service to connect the metro Denver region, significantly improving mobility from the city’s northern suburbs to downtown Denver. Global architecture, engineering, and design firm, Stantec, provided project management, track design, structural design, site civil design, and drainage services on the $429 million project. The contractor was Regional Rail Partners, a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Graham Construction. Construction on the line began in March of 2014.
The N Line features six new stations and 2,480 new parking spaces for riders. The first 13 miles of the proposed 18.5-mile line will provide service from Union Station through Denver, Commerce City, Northglenn, and Thornton. The entire 18.5-mile N Line is part of RTD’s 2004 voter-approved FasTracks program to expand transit across the city. When the corridor is fully complete, it will include two additional stations, for a total of eight new stations. The remaining 5.5 miles will be constructed as funds become available. A trip between Union Station and Eastlake-124th Station, currently the last stop on the line, will take about 29 minutes.
The project includes updated public crossing areas, with gates and lights, to ensure public safety. The N Line includes quiet zones—railroad segments where train operators don’t have to sound their horns on a routine basis–in consideration of neighbors and the public. The rail corridor features wireless positive train control (PTC) technology, a complex system that reduces the risk of potentially fatal accidents. RTD is the first transit agency in the US to build PTC technology into a new rail system from the ground up.
“The N Line will make a significant difference in the lives of Denver residents, safely reducing travel time across the city and greatly improving mobility,” said Jim Bader, a Stantec structural engineer based in Denver. “This year has presented unprecedented challenges, and it’s exciting to reach this milestone alongside RTD and Regional Rail Partners. We are proud to play a role in delivering the first 13 miles of the N Line.”
As part of the North Metro Rail Line’s construction, RTD also built Skyway Bridge, designed by Stantec. The curvilinear Skyway Bridge is nearly two miles, making it the longest bridge in Colorado. The innovative design, which uses direct fixation techniques, makes for a resilient structure and a smoother ride, with reduced maintenance over the long run. The new bridge avoids at-grade crossings, which increases safety by limiting interaction with other traffic. The Skyway Bridge was named to the Top 10 Bridges list in 2019 by Roads and Bridges Magazine.
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