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We don't know how much taxpayer money RTD is spending on lawyers

RTD is sorting through a legal battle with the contractor of Denver's A Line - Denver Transit Partners. So how much are you spending on the lawyer fees? We don't know.

DENVER — How many lawyers does it take to run the A Line?

This isn't really a joke, as much as a serious question we're trying to get answered.

First, let's review the players.

  • RTD = Regional Transportation District
  • DTP = Denver Transit Partners: The group of private companies hired to build, manage and maintain the A, B and G Lines.
  • FRA = Federal Railroad Administration: "Federal regulators."

RELATED: Making sense of the alphabet soup: A guide to all the acronyms we use when we talk about the A Line

DTP sued RTD in September. DTP wants to be reimbursed for the fines and penalties RTD has thrown its way since federal regulators haven't fully signed off on the A Line, and DTP believes it built what RTD originally requested.

RTD believes DTP did not, since it does not yet have the approval of federal regulators.

RELATED | A Line could stop running if feds follow through on threat to revoke waiver

All of that back-and-forth costs money - in lawyer fees.

DTP has hired lawyers in Colorado, Washington, D.C. and New York to deal with the RTD lawsuit and the FRA responses. RTD has hired lawyers in Colorado and Minnesota.

It cost Next 25 cents per page to print the lawsuit documents from the judicial library in downtown Denver, but how much lawyers are charging to write what's on those 25 cent pages is not known. We asked RTD how much it is spending on legal costs but were not given an answer.

"The legal costs RTD incurs for a specific issue are confidential," an RTD spokeswoman wrote in an email.

According to the lawsuit, DTP is alleging it's out $80 million on its end because of RTD.

"RTD is aware that recoverable costs on the order of $80M have been incurred by DTP, to date…" lawyers for Denver Transit Partners wrote in a court filing in the lawsuit against RTD.

Next asked DTP what makes up the $80 million - is it fines from RTD, legal fees, the cost of flaggers? Is it all of the above? A spokesman for DTP has been responsive to our questions and is still trying to get the answers for us as of Monday night.

RTD will be raising fares in January. An A Line ride to the airport will increase from $9 to $10.50. A regional fare will go up from $4.50 to $5.25, and a local fare will increase from $2.60 to $3.

"Fares are not dependent on this lawsuit, we evaluate fares for the entire bus and rail system through a different process," an RTD spokeswoman said in an email.

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