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  #12581  
Old Posted Apr 3, 2020, 7:17 PM
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Two, very real, potential outcomes of this are anti-transit and anti-density sentiments. There's been a lot of conversation about how to be proactive to combat this, but it might be awhile before normal is reached. Transit agencies are going to have to be very creative and flexible. Cities are going to have to tell the stories about why density is still good for our health.
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  #12582  
Old Posted Apr 5, 2020, 1:19 AM
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  #12583  
Old Posted Apr 5, 2020, 6:50 PM
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Originally Posted by PLANSIT View Post
Two, very real, potential outcomes of this are anti-transit and anti-density sentiments. There's been a lot of conversation about how to be proactive to combat this, but it might be awhile before normal is reached. Transit agencies are going to have to be very creative and flexible. Cities are going to have to tell the stories about why density is still good for our health.
I think to answer some of those questions, one needs to think about what are some permanent changes that come out of this that are never undone. For example, many people in more dense environments are increasingly relying on delivery services to help get through it. This is an argument for keeping that density. Being within walking distance of essential needs also helps us out through this. On the other hand, for many companies will come out of this realizing they can do just fine with most people working remotely. What does that do for office spaces? For job locations? All of that will have serious implications for the need for public transit.

In the future, if you work for a company that has the right tools to go remote, then why do you even need to go into a centralized office? Sure, you still need in-person meetings for certain functions (sales, marketing, etc). I could just be permanently remote, occasionally going into a WeWork style environment when I need to get out of the house and be around people. My company already had a few people working 100% remote just fine. I expect this process is going to push many many more people off that cliff into a permanent remote situation. As technology adapts to facilitate this through the crisis, it will only help accelerate that trend moving into the future.

All interesting food for thought....
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  #12584  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2020, 3:53 PM
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Originally Posted by twister244 View Post
I think to answer some of those questions, one needs to think about what are some permanent changes that come out of this that are never undone. For example, many people in more dense environments are increasingly relying on delivery services to help get through it. This is an argument for keeping that density. Being within walking distance of essential needs also helps us out through this. On the other hand, for many companies will come out of this realizing they can do just fine with most people working remotely. What does that do for office spaces? For job locations? All of that will have serious implications for the need for public transit.

In the future, if you work for a company that has the right tools to go remote, then why do you even need to go into a centralized office? Sure, you still need in-person meetings for certain functions (sales, marketing, etc). I could just be permanently remote, occasionally going into a WeWork style environment when I need to get out of the house and be around people. My company already had a few people working 100% remote just fine. I expect this process is going to push many many more people off that cliff into a permanent remote situation. As technology adapts to facilitate this through the crisis, it will only help accelerate that trend moving into the future.

All interesting food for thought....
My (not Denver-based) company is pretty much all remote with the exception of central-office services (accounting/finance, marketing, some HR, executive team). We'll do a quarterly or semi-annual gathering of teams, but otherwise we handle our work just fine from Teams and GoToMeeting. I'm sure it saves an insane amount on real estate costs and general infrastructure...plus I'm less bitchy when I have a 6am or 7am call with the east coast, since I can just roll out at 5:55/6:55 and hop on.
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  #12585  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2020, 5:05 AM
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Originally Posted by PLANSIT View Post
Two, very real, potential outcomes of this are anti-transit and anti-density sentiments. There's been a lot of conversation about how to be proactive to combat this, but it might be awhile before normal is reached. Transit agencies are going to have to be very creative and flexible. Cities are going to have to tell the stories about why density is still good for our health.
My guess is that density will remain the trend. But that also includes more density in the suburbs (which has been the trend) as well as in the city center. Sprawl may be fine for a place like Phoenix (with increased density) but sprawl (in general) is not a good model for Denver.

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A bit of good news. Colfax BRT moves into Design/NEPA:
Good to hear.
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  #12586  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2020, 5:29 AM
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Originally Posted by twister244 View Post
I think to answer some of those questions, one needs to think about what are some permanent changes that come out of this that are never undone. For example, many people in more dense environments are increasingly relying on delivery services to help get through it.
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Originally Posted by jbssfelix View Post
My (not Denver-based) company is pretty much all remote with the exception of central-office services (accounting/finance, marketing, some HR, executive team). We'll do a quarterly or semi-annual gathering of teams, but otherwise we handle our work just fine from Teams and GoToMeeting. I'm sure it saves an insane amount on real estate costs and general infrastructure...plus I'm less bitchy when I have a 6am or 7am call with the east coast, since I can just roll out at 5:55/6:55 and hop on.
I've yet to have any idea what the 'new economy' will look and feel like but I'm sure your thinking will be a significant factor. For one thing, tech has become so significant and tech can easily move to more of a work-at-home model as you point out.

Most of the Gig economy thrives w/o lots of office space. Not only drivers including rideshare, Amazon delivery, shopping by Instacart or pizza/fast food delivery... there's also already a lot of free lance writers, consultants, photography, graphic and web designers, marketers etc.

All that said, my hunch is that office space will remain a significant part of the landscape.
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  #12587  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2020, 5:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam Hill View Post
I wonder if RTD is ever going to recover from COVID.
One of the things that twister244 and I agree on is the need to invest in BRT-type service along major corridors. That hasn't changed. I see light rail success as they serve specific corridors that will continue to encourage TOD.

We all know there's only one Sam Hill in the world but no doubt there's a whole lot of people that feel like you do.

Whatever the 'new normal' turns out to be, it makes me believe more than ever in my previous ranting.

There will presumably be even more bus-averse riders than before. Rideshare is too expensive to be used for everyday commuting for most people. There has to be something in between like shuttle bus style app based service that could be designed to accommodate different models. It could be a subscription commuter service that serves specific areas; it could be totally on-demand; it could do both. As previously suggested smaller shuttle style vehicles will have better appeal than Big Bertha buses for many people.

As previously ranted about I see less need for traditional bus service. Some commuter routes would make sense as would some basic level of service in the urban core but I'll guess half of the bus routes will die of coronavirus.
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  #12588  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2020, 3:17 PM
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I think it's a given that more people will work from home in the future. But I suspect it'll still be a relatively small percentage.

At least three new advantages from March will move things in that direction for the typical office:
--Companies have suddenly leaped their infrastructure forward, even if mostly in small and ad-hoc ways and via easy third-party services.
--Employees have tried it, and many like it.
--Sick people will be encouraged to stay home until a vaccine, but also in future years.

That said, we'll have to learn more about productivity. For the self-chosen WFH people of 2019, it apparently works in many cases but not others, as some firms have found anecdotally. For the rest of us, the jury is out. It's hard to compare today's work with 2019's. I find myself productive and efficient, but have only tried that for certain types of functions and limited online meetings.

I suspect a relatively limited number of office jobs will go all-home, but that a lot more will go to mixed models such as working from home one day a week. And a large percentage will liberalize their sick rules.
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  #12589  
Old Posted May 6, 2020, 2:03 AM
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DIA CEO Kim Day wants to modify the airport's Planned Improvements


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DIA looks to add $560M to construction contracts for accelerated renovations
May 5, 2020 By Monica Vendituoli – Reporter, Denver Business Journal
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“... Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are new opportunities to complete additional work as passenger traffic volumes are low and this will create additional efficiencies and savings by potentially accelerating additional concourse upgrades,” said a fact sheet presented during the Local Disaster Response Committee meeting.
Let's talk dollars and sense.
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The $560 million total contract increase will be distributed to several firms include Dallas-based construction firm Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE: JEC) and Kansas City-based design firm HNTB Corporation. The Denver City Council will vote on the contract expansions in about two weeks... Day said the airport plans on accelerating some projects and replacing some older parts of the airport while passenger traffic remains low due to the virus. Two of these projects include the 39-gate expansion project and updates to the airport’s overall existing facilities, such as bathrooms and conveyance walkway belts.
The article talks about the 39-gate expansion which we all know about and was headed towards the finish line anyway.
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“Currently, the Gate Expansion project employs 800 to 1,000 people each day, and we have successfully worked with our contractors to ensure they enforce appropriate measures to protect workers’ health and safety,” the fact sheet said.
What about the new whiz-bang baggage handling projects including bags that have been flagged for a followup inspection?
Quote:
Day also said DIA’s two baggage construction projects will continue as planned. Greenwood Village-based aviation engineering firm Logplan is currently providing maintenance support and consulting services related to the projects. The $96 million project, which will improve checked bag transportation, is scheduled to be completed by June and a $150 million project to improve checked bag security should go live in August 2021.
Anything being delayed?
Quote:
Day said DIA plans on “deferring lower priority projects” to after 2023 due to the pandemic. She specifically noted that the renovations to Pena Boulevard and parking lots have been temporarily suspended and that the scope of both projects is being reevaluated. Furthermore, DIA’s Great Hall project under the airport’s main hall in the Jeppesen Terminal will be “adjusted” to reflect an “extended delivery date,” though construction on Phase I of the project will continue
The plot for DIA's future thickens.
Quote:
Additionally, DIA is reevaluating its broader land development plan, though specifics were not released. DIA owns 16,000 acres of land surrounding the airport.
Kim Day also confirmed that the over $2 billion in previous sold bonds/funding have to be used for the purposes stated in bond sale.
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  #12590  
Old Posted May 15, 2020, 5:20 AM
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Jacob Rees-Mogg and his staff taking government advice by cycling in to parliament


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  #12591  
Old Posted May 21, 2020, 8:40 PM
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Rumors of a new train a comin'

One Thing Not Derailed By Coronavirus? RTD’s N Line Now ‘On Track’ To Open By September
May 20, 2020 By Nathaniel Minor - CPR
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The Regional Transportation District's long-awaited N Line from downtown Denver to Thornton and Northglenn is on schedule to open in September.

"Everything is on track, pun intended, for September," Paul Ballard, RTD's interim general manager and CEO told the agency's board of directors Tuesday evening.
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  #12592  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2020, 4:21 PM
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Will Cap Hill Bike Lanes Remove Hundreds of Parking Spaces?
JUNE 1, 2020 by Alan Prendergast - Westword
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Parking frustrations in Capitol Hill may be about to multiply. Quietly, without much public discussion or buy-in from neighborhood groups, city planners are moving forward with plans for a north-south bike route through the heart of Capitol Hill; the preferred route would involve installing protected bike lanes on Washington and Clarkson streets...

"We're used to seeing protected bike lanes in the downtown business district," notes Brad Cameron, president of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill... Here, what we're talking about are impacts on parking for residents. In terms of the size of it, it's unprecedented."

"We've hammered on the planners to do parking surveys before they made these plans, and they've pretty much refused to do that," Schomp says.
This is a good example of - if you are a bike enthusiast, then you're plugged into planning - implementing and you express your support. If you're an ordinary Joe or Juanita who's not a bike rider, then you may be totally clueless about plans for bike lanes.

I'm generally supportive of biking and bike lanes

If you're a long-time resident of Capital Hill then such changes can be unsettling, challenging. But just as Denver has experienced lots of Gentrification in various forms, this is just one more example. For those who can't live w/o a car it's time to consider packing your bags and finding a more suitable place to live. For those who want both their car and good biking access it's not so much a problem if you can afford an apartment that provides for both.

And the beat goes on...
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  #12593  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2020, 6:26 AM
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City, Cap Metro Commit to “Historic” Transit Expansion Plan
JUNE 12, 2020 BY MIKE CLARK-MADISON - The Austin Chronicle
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On what Mayor Steve Adler dubbed "truly a historic day," the Capital Metro Board of Directors and Austin City Council unanimously adopted the Project Connect System Plan and Locally Preferred Alternatives, setting the stage for the two entities to seek funding from the Federal Transit Administration – and voter approval of local funding – for the $9.8 billion vision for transit expansion.
For all the hullabaloo, they still need to determine how they plan to fund all this as well as when to send the proposal to voters. Still the unanimity of support (so far) is impressive.

From previous discussion here, they have since converted a BRT proposed route over to another light rail route so there will be 3 instead of 2 light rail routes.
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  #12594  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2020, 8:26 PM
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Worth noting that Austin's first rail line was an "easy" DMU line that didn't go to dense parts of the city, nor provide especially useful service. Its ridership is negligible, and when Austin proposed expanding that system with more of the same, there was basically a rebellion against it. This new plan is a reaction to that lesson, and is more along the lines of what TakeFive would describe as "textbook."

Not to say Austin and Denver are the same, although obviously I'm subtweeting previous exchanges. Austin's existing line is like an exaggerated/much worse version of the issues we've discussed about FasTracks.
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  #12595  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2020, 9:12 PM
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Worth noting that Austin's first rail line was an "easy" DMU line that didn't go to dense parts of the city, nor provide especially useful service. Its ridership is negligible, and when Austin proposed expanding that system with more of the same, there was basically a rebellion against it. This new plan is a reaction to that lesson, and is more along the lines of what TakeFive would describe as "textbook."

Not to say Austin and Denver are the same, although obviously I'm subtweeting previous exchanges. Austin's existing line is like an exaggerated/much worse version of the issues we've discussed about FasTracks.
Used to live at the Lamar/Crestview stop on the Red Line in Austin. Even though I was 2 blocks from it, I rarely rode the train, as it was pretty much relegated to commuters who lived in Cedar Park and worked downtown. The rail itself is owned by, I think, CSX, and they still used the line at night for freight. Therefore, a late night line never happened, which would have been my one main use for it.

Trains were nice and clean though, so there's that.

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  #12596  
Old Posted Jun 13, 2020, 7:45 PM
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Oh Boy; a chance to talk transit and trains
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
This new plan is a reaction to that lesson, and is more along the lines of what TakeFive would describe as "textbook."

Not to say Austin and Denver are the same, although obviously I'm subtweeting previous exchanges. Austin's existing line is like an exaggerated/much worse version of the issues we've discussed about FasTracks.
I've re-acquainted myself with the latest, greatest Project Connect update so try to keep up.
Actually, since I'm unfamiliar with the 'lay of the land' perhaps jbssfelix can add valuable descriptions.

With the 3rd light rail line added there's now three lines covering 36 miles. If a guestimate that $7 billion (of the $10 billion) is for light rail that's a cool $195 million per mile - which isn't terrible considering Seattle is spending closer to $300 million per mile. For reference RTD built ~96 miles for less than $70 million per mile.

To be fair, Project Connect includes a 1.6 mile subway in downtown which is smart. Not unlike Seattle I suspect this a key piece.

Speaking of Seattle, Austin, like Seattle is a whole level higher than Denver. While Denver is building/planning 30-story towers Austin is building 40 to 60-story towers. FWIW, I'm less enamored by height than others; just sayin' that Austin will have awesome Big Boys and added density.

Here's the latest map. Here's the Project Connect website.

Typical of most cities the first LRT line, the Orange Line copies the busiest bus route; in that respect it's good textbook stuff. At 21 miles it may be similar to RTD's SE Corridor but (mostly) along streets so more like Phoenix which also connects two hot spots in downtown Phoenix and Tempe/ASU.

The Blue Line is more 'airport textbook' except it appears to have more of an urban component to go with the suburban component. With 22 stations over 15 miles, be sure to pack a lunch if you're going to the airport. By comparison RTD's A Line has (only) 8 stations over 22.5 miles.

The conversion of the Gold Line from BRT to light rail was presumably very smart and does appear to be highly street-based, good textbook stuff including both urban/suburban (developing) areas. It will have 15 stations over 9.5 miles.

What could go wrong?

Chances are high given the nature of the plan that they will need all of a 25% contingency which at a revised cost of $243 million per mile even sounds more realistic. But for high-brow Austin it's only money.

The other Big Problem is final determinations on how much grade separation they'll build in as apposed to stopping at the same street lights as cars. The added infrastructure costs are (obviously) a bit mind bending.

P.S. - btw, it's nice to know you're still out there....
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  #12597  
Old Posted Jun 13, 2020, 10:45 PM
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Missed Opportunities

Technically RTD's W Line broke ground May 16, 2007 but RTD didn't receive their FFGA until Jan of 2009. Full construction with a contractor in place actually started in June of 2009.

Cirrus has often tried to bait me into "what should have been done" and with over a decade behind us it's good time for a retrospective. I still haven't detached myself from the hard realities but one major revision to FasTracks has become crystal clear. (Btw, 12 years ago I knew virtually nothing about transit)

First Priority

First priority was correctly the W Line. Since RTD-FasTracks was and is regionally funded anything outside of Arapahoe (and Denver) counties was a good idea. The Taj Mahal, the seat of Jefferson County obviously had good political pull.

I'm eternally grateful for the schooling provided by EngiNerd about how the W Line was more of a drainage project than light rail project. Even if a bit tongue-in-cheek it was useful to learn how cities take advantage of major (transit) projects to pack in other valuable infrastructure needs. It's also worth pointing out there's some mighty fine bike paths along the way.

Second Priority

The Eagle P3 project was rightly 2nd in priority. Nothing was more valuable than the 'Train to the Planes' and with the necessity to switch to Commuter Rail rolling stock, including the Gold Line and attaching the B Line to the Westminster Station (providing a slice of Adams County) made total sense.

Third Priority (should have been)

The U/S Line (for Urban Signature) running from the Civic Center down Broadway, along Speer Blvd and then along Leetsdale/Parker Rd to Iliff Ave, then east along Iliff to what is now Iliff Station. Iliff Station should have been the end of the U/S line while the H Line extended/ended at the Florida Station (instead of Nine Mile Station). For those unfamiliar the Iliff Ave segment would have included urban/suburban density.

Why this would have mattered

I eyeball a $1 billion price tag for the U/S line and H Line extension from Nine Mile Station up to the Florida Station. All this should have easily qualified for an FTA grant of ~$450 million.

Fourth Priority (should have been)

Phase Two to include the Boulder Choo Choo, the N Line and the R Line addition through Aurora.

That revision would definitely have been the Cat's Meow.
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  #12598  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2020, 3:03 PM
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jbssfelix can add valuable descriptions.
I'll see what I can do. That spine that Orange runs along is the highest density of homes to jobs in all of Austin...which is why the city got a lot of backlash for building the cheaper Red Line instead. Past Crestview going noth, there is pretty much nothing that the Red Line stops at that's worth visiting. Even Kramer Station, which stops near the Domain (think Cherry Creek on steroids), suffers from the R-Line/Anschutz effect of not being close enough to actually be useful.

Going back to the Orange Line, a lot of the pushback was due to the fact that Lamar has forever been a 5-7 lane stroad that fed thousands of cars into downtown, and people were very weary about removing two lanes for a choo choo that "nobody would take" (even though the 801 bus line that runs the same route is often packed to the gills).

Expect a ton of fighting over the Orange Line, but if it does get approved and funded, it'll be a game changer for Austin.

As for the Blue Line, it's mostly just a bone to throw to get the "build an airport line!" folks on board.
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  #12599  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2020, 8:06 PM
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I guess you admitted this already, but I wouldn't categorize Austin as a "higher level than Denver" on much of anything. Denver beats Austin in every meaningful way to measure population or density. Austin does have taller buildings under construction currently. It's biggest asset over Denver is probably that UT is one-mile from downtown, and so gigantic.

Anyway, I appreciate your priority list. I like the Broadway/Leetsdale line, but disagree completely with leaving Colfax out to dry, and would unquestionably trade away the 225 line to get it. Other stuff, like making the W line faster, is worth talking about but maybe outside the scope of re-imagining where to put lines.
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  #12600  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2020, 8:39 PM
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You know what, let's play the armchair re-imaging game a little more.

Here are the game parameters: Pretend we are re-planning FasTracks from start, and in so doing changed the following:

1. We build the Airport, SE, SW, and W corridors as built more or less in real life. Minor tweaks are acceptable if you want to call them out, if they're relevant to one of the other changes below.

2. We do NOT build the I-225 R line at all.

3. We DO build TakeFive's Civic Center-Broadway-Speer-Leetsdale line.

4. We DO build a Colfax line, beginning at Civic Center, running east on Colfax as light rail into Aurora.

5: We DO build a 1-mile Civic Center to Union Station subway.

Now, the questions to answer as part of the game:

Q1: Where do you end the Colfax line? Do you end it by curving north to meet the A line, south to meet Aurora Town Center or Buckley, or something else? Where do you turn off Colfax

Q2: Where do you end the Leetsdale line?

Q3: Where do you end the Civic Center-Union Station subway? At Union Station, or do you carry it into Highlands somehow?

Q4: Without changing them too much, are there any minor tweaks you'd make to lines we're keeping in order to make your new re-imagined system work better together (for example, maybe you find a way to connect the A line to the Colfax line that requires moving an A line station somewhere).
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