Is the A Line working today?
Yes, but RTD has plenty more to deal with right now. Today, the question is whether the A Line will ever simply work as it's supposed to, without flaggers and horns blaring every time the train passes through an intersection?
The answer right now is no, according to Denver Transit Partners, the private partner that works with RTD on the A Line. A letter from the DTP last month tells RTD it can no longer meet deadlines to improve the A Line's functionality with current technology. DTP wants to stop being fined for missing deadlines, like the one for improving the timing of the crossing gates. Part of the reason they miss deadlines, the letter says, is because new laws with new requirements continue to pass.
The letter implies this is as good as it gets for now, specifically saying:
Significant approval delays have occurred and continue; however, until now it had appeared that regulator concerns could be addressed with additional data, explanations and adjustments. Now, as a result of recent developments, it is clear that regulator safety concerns with at-grade street crossings Quiet Zones and use of PTC technology in Colorado and across the country have become so strong that there may be no foreseeable end to the issues and objections that could prevent the approval of each and every, or any, of the Project's at-grade crossings and the train control system in time to meet the Revenue Service Deadline Date....
DTP's Contractors and vendors have been effectively finished for some time with the elements that prevented the Independent Engineer from issuing the Revenue Service Commencement Certificates for the Lines in operation and for the remaining Line that cannot be tested. No additional significant software updates or corrective measures have been made in the last four months, and no further advancements are reasonably possible with available technology.
Essentially, until the crossing gates work like the federal government wants, crossing guards stay and so do the blaring horns.
Spokesman Scott Reed says RTD knew the letter was coming, following the last meeting with the feds. He says that it shouldn't be interpreted as there is no solution, but as a formal response to federal administrators who want to know why the A Line is having problems. Reed explains that the letter was DTP's way of "triggering a dispute resolution process."
"DTP was merely expressing concerns over meeting the Federal Railroad Administration and Colorado Public Utilities Commission requirements within a specific deadline," he says. "They do not say they will never be met. It is within the specific deadlines that are approaching."
Reed says the crossing gate issue is getting closer to being fixed, but they still come down too early and stay down too late at times. He says RTD is confident the issues will, one day, be solved.
And as a side effect of all this, until the A-Line works correctly, the G-Line through Wheat Ridge and Arvada cannot get running, though RTD has been allowed to test the G Line.