AURORA - The Regional Transportation District and Kiewit Infrastructure Company held a ceremony Friday morning in Aurora that celebrated the start of construction for the I-225 light rail line extension.

The I-225 extension line will connect with the existing Southeast Light Rail Line at Nine Mile Station. The 10.5 mile extension will travel through the city of Aurora and will have eight stations, including stops at the Anschutz Medical Campus and the future Veterans Affairs Hospital. The city is hoping the light rail extension will help people have better access to the medical buildings and help manage the limited parking.

"People from around Colorado, across the nation and around the world come here for the best medical treatment, and this FasTracks line will provide a critical length," Adjutant General of Colorado Major General H. Michael Edwards said.

Construction from Nine Mile Station to Illif started in the spring of 2012 as part of a joint contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation. RTD and CDOT partnered to complete the new light rail extension, along with CDOT's plan to widen I-225 from Mississippi to Parker Road, by sharing construction resources.

The new I-225 extension line is part of the RTD FasTracks program that currently has 81 miles of rail and bus transit in construction, or soon to begin construction. Aurora's new light rail line is just the beginning of many extension lines that RTD hopes to implement in Colorado.

"Through the efforts of all of us, we will be tying together Denver International Airport, the Anschutz Campus, the Denver Tech Center, downtown Denver, Arvada, South Santa Fe, and soon the northern part of this great metropolitan area through light rail," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said.

Kiewit Infrastructure Company plans to complete the full I-225 rail line by the end of 2015. The line will be open for public use in 2016 after about six months of testing.

"This is what our city needs, this is what our metropolitan area needs, and it's our hope that this development will go hand-in-hand with what happens in the construction of this great light rail line," Hogan said.

By: Elle Mohs