RTD and contractors begin trial in $111 million case over commuter rail crossing issues


RTD and the contracting group that constructed three commuter rail traces traded blame over expensive delays and crossing-gate issues in courtroom Monday as they opened a prolonged trial.
At stake is whether or not the Regional Transportation District should reimburse Denver Transit Companions for $111 million in prices that included crossing guards on the A-Line and B-Line, in addition to delays and misplaced income for the G-Line. That line’s opening was pushed from late 2016 to April 2019, largely due to the identical points.
DTP posted flaggers at prepare crossings for greater than two years whereas it struggled to dial in new wi-fi crossing-gate expertise. That system was imagined to set off gates to shut about 30 seconds earlier than a prepare got here by way of, however gates typically closed minutes prematurely — although not less than as soon as, they didn’t shut till a prepare already had handed by way of.
DTP and RTD struggled to win closing sign-off from more and more impatient state and federal regulators  — and that’s the foundation for DTP’s lawsuit, filed two years in the past.
DTP’s advanced public-private partnership contract with RTD assigns duty for various sorts of unexpected prices. The contract says RTD should take in bills which might be because of surprising modifications within the regulation or purely unexpected circumstances — and the 2 sides are arguing about whether or not both provision was triggered by the crossing-gate fiasco.
The $2.2 billion, 34-year deal referred to as for DTP to construct and preserve three commuter rail traces anchored at Union Station after which function them for many years — the College of Colorado A-Line to the airport, the G-Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge, and the B-Line to Westminster.
The necessity for flaggers at crossings for thus lengthy resulted within the largest, most extended blowup thus far with the contracting group, even prompting RTD to threaten termination of the contract when the G-Line’s opening was delayed.
The trial started the identical day that RTD’s new N-Line to Thornton, its newest commuter rail line, opened for service. It was constructed by one other contracting group and likewise bumped into delays and issues, however RTD is working the N-Line itself slightly than outsourcing it.
The case is scheduled for 4 weeks in Denver District Courtroom, with the ultimate week probably delayed till mid-November due to a scheduling battle in Decide Andrew P. McCallin’s courtroom. It’s a bench trial, leaving the decision as much as the decide as a substitute of a jury.
The proceedings started with finger-pointing and conflicting interpretations of key occasions throughout either side’s opening assertion.
DTP legal professional Tiffanie Stasiak painted an image of overzealous regulators who utilized requirements for the brand new crossing expertise that went past current laws, singling out the A Line with necessities not confronted by different railroads. Whereas no regulation was modified, Stasiak argued that the laws had been utilized in such a haphazard style that they amounted to new authorized hurdles that weren’t envisioned on the time the contract was inked.
“The proof will present that it doesn’t require {that a} new regulation be enacted” for RTD to be on the hook, she mentioned.
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Jocelyn Knoll, RTD’s lead legal professional, mentioned the contracting group waived its proper to make claims for a number of the delays in 2016 agreements it signed, simply because the A-Line and B-Line had been opening. She mentioned DTP carried out most of its duties effectively, but it surely didn’t ship a crossing-gate system that carried out as designed — or inside laws.
“DTP’s makes an attempt to revise historical past can’t stand up to scrutiny,” Knoll mentioned.
On its aspect, RTD is looking for $27 million in damages for DTP’s missed deadlines and failures to satisfy venture necessities.


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