Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
Denver’s RTD sued by commuter-rail developer
The Regional Transportation District of Denver (RTD) has been sued by Denver Transit Partners (DTP), the consortium of private companies that built and operate the agency’s troubled University of Colorado A-Line.
In a lawsuit filed yesterday in Denver District Court, DTP is seeking more money from the transit district, according to an RTD press release.
DTP is citing a change in law or change in interpretation in law by federal and state rail safety agencies for DTP’s failure to get final approval for the grade crossings and quiet zones on RTD’s commuter-rail system that DTP has designed, built and is operating for RTD. The consortium claims it is not to blame for the increased costs associated with those issues, according to the press release.
The consortium includes a unit of Fluor Corp., a unit of John Laing PLC, Balfour Beatty Rail Inc. and Ames Construction.
“As anyone in the Denver metro area knows, the commuter-rail system that Fluor, John Laing, Balfour Beatty, Ames and the other DTP partners have designed, and are building and operating, for RTD is an impressive, safe and reliable rail project – but it still isn’t done,” RTD officials said.
“The final rail line — the G Line — is nearly two years behind schedule, DTP has already missed the final completion deadline for the entire project, and DTP’s commuter-rail trains continue to sound their horns when going through street crossings instead of operating under quiet zones as required by the contract,” they said.
The main issue is operation of the street crossing gates, according to RTD. The consortium has claimed that the Federal Railroad Administration and Colorado Public Utilities Commission have changed the rules or interpretation of the rules, which is why the final approvals have not been completed, transit district officials said.
“Instead of Fluor, John Laing, BBRI, Ames and their partners and subcontractors accepting their roles and responsibility for the project, they are looking to blame others,” they said.
RTD and DTP have been negotiating over the issues for the past several months. DTP broke off negotiations earlier this week and filed the lawsuit.
“It has taken DTP not just months, but years to optimize their system to the point where safety regulators are reasonably satisfied,” RTD officials said. “With all due respect, RTD thinks DTP should be looking within, rather than trying to blame safety regulators, for the challenges DTP has faced.”
RTD’s board is “extremely disappointed” that the situation has resulted in a lawsuit, said Chairman Doug Tisdale.
“The board fully understands and respects the legal process, and the right of parties to resort to that process,” he said. “While the board regrets DTP’s action, we are confident that RTD’s position will ultimately prevail.”
In the lawsuit, DTP accuses the transit district of breach of contract, violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and declaratory relief against the district’s refusal to accept change in law and unforeseeable circumstances that prevented DTP from fulfilling its contract during the design and building phase of the project, The Denver Post reported.
The public private partnership with RTD includes the financing, design, construction and long-term operation and maintenance of three new commuter-rail lines from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport (the A-Line), south Westminster (the B-Line) and Arvada and Wheat Ridge (the G-Line), among other construction commitments, the newspaper reported, citing the lawsuit.
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