RTD's huge FasTracks transit expansion project hits a key milestone early Monday when the agency opens a new light-rail station at Union Station and restarts train service on its Central Platte Valley rail line.

Officials with the Regional Transportation District plan a ceremonial opening of the new Union Station light-rail platform Monday morning, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will be among the public officials heralding the event and the reopening of the CPV line.

"This is another milestone for the RTD FasTracks program," RTD general manager Phil Washington said. "We appreciate the community's patience during the closures and construction."

Train operations on the CPV line — with stops at Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens, Invesco Field and Auraria West, in addition to Union Station — were halted three weeks ago so contractors could complete construction on the new rail station and make other transit improvements.

During the closure, contractors also tied in the new West Corridor light-rail line with the CPV line near a newly constructed Auraria West rail station.

The $710 million West line, which will serve Lakewood and Golden from Denver, is more than two-thirds complete and is due to open in May 2013.

The new Auraria West station, near Fifth and Walnut streets, will not be open for passengers until the fall. Auraria students and faculty are urged to use the Colfax at Auraria and Invesco Field stops.


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RTD wanted to reopen the CPV line in advance of the Broncos pre-season game next Saturday at Invesco Field because so many fans take light rail to the games.

The new Union Station light-rail platform, at 16th Street and Chestnut Place, is about two blocks west of the old passenger platform. On Monday RTD also will extend the free 16th Street Mall shuttle bus those additional blocks to serve the new station.

Contractors also will open Chestnut Place between 16th and 19th streets on Monday and temporarily close Wewatta Street for the same three-block stretch so additional construction at Union Station can proceed. The bus stop on Wewatta will be moved to Chestnut.

Workers need to close Wewatta so the easternmost portion of an underground bus station can be constructed close to the historic Union Station building.

The underground bus facility, when complete, will stretch from the new light-rail platform to a commuter-rail station that also is being constructed as part of the $489 million Union Station redevelopment project.

The commuter-rail platforms, located just outside the west doors of the storied station, will serve a number of FasTracks trains, including the East Corridor line to Denver International Airport and the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge.