CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATING NEWS (update by every month)
Latest construction cost estimate for FasTracks: $7.8 billion
The latest construction-cost estimate for the Denver area's FasTracks transit project is out, and it's $7.8 billion, up from $6.9 billion in last year's estimate by the Regional Transportation District .
But there's no gap between FasTracks' estimated costs and projected revenues, which were presented to RTD board members Tuesday, because the estimate assumes that RTD in November will ask for - and voters will approve - a 0.4 percent tax increase to help pay the cost of FasTracks.
RTD is still modeling what the new gap between costs and revenues would be if voters reject a tax increase in November, RTD spokesman Scott Reed said.
A year ago, when costs were estimated at $6.9 billion, the gap between costs and revenues was $2.6 billion. RTD expects that number will rise under the new, higher cost estimates.
RTD's board has until August to decide whether or not to pursue a FasTracks tax increase on the November ballot. If voters don't approve a second tax increase, RTD officials have said FasTracks won't be finished until 2042.
RTD's board on Tuesday asked for more information on costs and revenue projections, and the gap between the two, before they finalize FasTracks' annual budget.
The annual FasTracks budget must be approved in March in order to send it to a review by the Denver Regional Council of Governments, as required by state law.
Voters in 2004 approved a 0.4 percent tax increase -- 4 pennies per $10 worth of good purchased -- to help pay for FasTracks. At the time, the massive project to build 122 miles of rail lines throughout the metro area was estimated to cost $4.7 billion.
But costs rose higher than forecast and the recession sapped sales tax revenues.
About 85 percent of the latest estimated cost increase stems from a near doubling in the projected cost of the Northwest FasTracks rail line compared to last year, Reed said.